California's governor took to a small stage outside the Universal Studios theme park in LA on Tuesday morning to celebrate the major pandemic milestone we've all been awaiting for months — and to announce the ten winners (or at least the counties they hail from) of the $1.5 million vaccine lottery prizes.
It was a cartoony pony show befitting our big and baffling state, and our showboat Governor Gavin Newsom was greeted as he arrived on stage by a weird voiceover of Optimus Prime saying "It is a privilege to be by your side." And there was a guy by the stage in a Jurassic Park safari outfit with a rubber T-Rex puppet, and several Minions and Trolls in their furry costumes, waving.
"We are here. June 15th. To turn the page to move beyond capacity limits, move beyond color coding, move beyond physical and social distancing... and move beyond masks!"
At least 30 politicians and members of the press were on hand to clap California on the back for a job well done, and Newsom went through the litany of state officials and support staff who have been helping him navigate the pandemic crisis.
He first introduced Hilda Solis, the former Biden Administration official who's now president of the LA County Board of Supervisors. Solis began by acknowledging the 23,000+ people who lost their lives to COVID in LA County — a far more devastating toll that many other places in the state, including San Francisco, where 550 lives have been lost to date.
"While we mourn them and pray for them and provide condolences to their families, we look forward to a better day," Solis said.
She also acknowledged that "We still have a ways to go" in terms of convincing communities of color to get vaccinated.
Newsom got back on stage and introduced two of the $50,000 winners from last week, handing them their giant checks. And then he brought on a healthcare worker, a nurse who was on the frontlines of the pandemic who said that she and her coworkers "saw way more death than we ever wanted to see in our careers."
The nurse and Access Hollywood's Scott Evans then did the honors with pulling the lotto balls out of the machine.
The winners of the big $1.5 million prizes hailed from Marin, Los Angeles (4), Riverside, Sacramento, Santa Barbara, Stanislaus, and Ventura counties. Not a lot of Bay Area luck this time, but let's just hope the Marin County winner isn't already rich.
The prizes don't end here, as Newsom announced Monday that there will be another drawing on July 1 for "dream vacation" winners — hoping that more incentives will get a few thousand more reluctant Californians to go get their shots. It's not yet clear whether this lottery thing has done a lot to encourage vaccinations.