The names have been selected, and the contact calls are being made. Now, Manitobans must wait until Monday to learn who has won the $100,000 prizes through the province's first "Vax to Win" lottery.
On Aug. 9, Funding Change, a Manitoba technology company tasked with programming the draw, had its system pick the winners.
"We've never had as many participants in a single draw as we're having with this campaign — it's been quite extraordinary," said Nicholas Tenszen, co-founder of Funding Change.
Manitobans who received their first jab of a COVID-19 vaccine on or before Aug. 2 were automatically entered into the lottery draw.
Those who get a second dose on or before Sept. 6 will be entered into a second lottery (draw date to be announced).
Seven adult Manitobans will each be named winner of a $100,000 prize Monday: three Winnipeggers, and a person from each other regional health authority. Another seven will win the same amount during the second round in September.
Both draws will also award 10 $25,000 scholarships to youth ages 12 through 17, regardless of their health division residence.
The contest is meant to incentivize Manitobans to get their shots.
The province will announce the prize recipients at the Leila Avenue super site. However, winners are being notified now, according to a spokesperson from Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries Corp.
On Aug. 9, a group of officials — including the chief executives of the Liquor, Gaming and Cannabis Authority of Manitoba and MLL — watched the lottery unfold on a projector, in a series of codes and signatures. Members of KPMG, an auditing firm, also attended.
"In order to ensure the integrity of the whole thing, we stripped back all the veneer to show… the guts of the system," Tenszen said.
Funding Change has been operating since 2015. It’s hosted thousands of virtual raffles and draws, partnering with entities such as the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, CancerCare Manitoba Foundation, and Special Olympics Manitoba.
Tenszen said Funding Change didn’t have to alter its system to meet the provincewide contest’s needs.
"It’s something that our core system just does," he said.
The leaders viewing the lottery process, which happened at LGCA headquarters, did not see anyone’s name or health information, Tenszen said.
"When we do the draw, we won’t be able to see, like, ‘Jane Doe is the winner,’" Tenszen said. "That’s something that (Manitoba Health does) on their side. It’s completely anonymous for us."
Manitoba Health sent an encrypted file of vaccinated Manitobans to Funding Change.
"It doesn’t have any of the entrants’ personal information," Tenszen said. "We get representative information, and then we run through our process."
The tech company’s system performed the draw and sent encrypted files back to Manitoba Health, which the government body interpreted to identify the winners.
"All that sensitive information that the province manages on a day-to-day (basis), throughout the years — where that information is stored, that’s the only place where it was (kept), even during this campaign," Tenszen said.
Funding Change had been in talks with MLL since early June about partnering on Vax to Win.
"Given the magnitude of the lottery, it was important to work with an experienced, licensed provider," a MLL spokesperson said in a written statement.
"Funding Change was chosen, as they are a Manitoba-based digital lottery service provider, licensed by the LGCA to operate in Manitoba and equipped to securely deal with the unique circumstances of the Vax to Win lottery."
Funding Change employees, along with others working directly with the lottery and members of the legislative assembly, were not allowed entry in the draws.
Winners must be announced publicly, according to the rules. Folks who don’t want their names published will forfeit the money.
Gabby is a big fan of people, writing and learning. She graduated from Red River College’s Creative Communications program in the spring of 2020.