Vaccine scholarships have better odds than a Rockies World Series

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DENVER (KDVR) — The odds of a million dollar vaccination draw might be lottery-like, but the odds of a vaccine scholarship are better than those on the Colorado Rockies winning the 2021 World Series.

The state has only opened vaccines to 12-17-year-olds recently. Gov. Jared Polis said the state has given a vaccine dose to about a quarter of that age group as of Wednesday.

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment does not say the number exactly, but state demography data gives an estimated population of 446,750 Coloradans aged 12 to 17. That means roughly 111,688 in that group are eligible for the scholarships as of June 1.

Currently, that makes the odds of winning a scholarship for those vaccinated children better than the odds than the Rockies winning the World Series, which are 1 in 5,000, according to this sports book.

With 25 $50,000 prizes, the odds of the currently vaccinated 12-17-year-olds winning are 1 in 4,468.

The kids are going to have a much easier time getting the prizes than Coloradans at large. The odds of winning a scholarship are 130 times better than winning the $1 million prizes.

There have been 3.03 million Coloradans vaccinated with at least one dose as of June 1. Of that number, 2.9 million of those vaccinated Coloradans are eligible for the drawing, as they are 18 years or older.

With five grand prizes, that makes odds of winning the vaccine $1 million around 1 in 580,000, which is over 500 times better than the odds of winning the Powerball jackpot.

At Metropolitan State University Denver, math professor Ben Dyhr said this is the only time in his life he may recommend someone play the lottery. 

“Indisputably, since you have to pay for a Powerball ticket, it’s a much better value than a Powerball ticket,” Dyhr said.

Using expected value, he said the average person can expect to lose a little over $1 with each Powerball ticket they buy. Using the same calculation, he said the average person will “gain” about $1.72 by playing Colorado Comeback Cash. 

“So this is almost $3 more valuable than a Powerball ticket if you look at it from that perspective,” he said

Dyhr said your best chance to win will be on the first drawing, with the odds lowering with each subsequent drawing as more Coloradans get vaccinated and enter the contest.

“Yeah, your odds are going down, so it’s a better idea not only to get in in the first place, but you have better odds in the first drawing,” he said. “Although you shouldn’t feel like, ‘Oh I blew it. I don’t have good odds,’ because they are very similar.”

In addition to the five $1 million drawings for all Coloradans over the age of 18 who have received at least one vaccine dose, the state of Colorado is giving away $50,000 scholarships to 25 young people aged 12-17.

The random drawing will put the money in a college investment account that can be used for four-year colleges and universities, trade schools, junior colleges or any other post-secondary education the winner chooses.

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