*Update below, NMDOH has since issued a statement

NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – The state is spending millions of dollars to encourage people to get vaccinated against COVID-19 that includes a big bucks sweepstakes for people who get the shot. However, the New Mexico Department of Health came out Thursday with a new message on social media suggesting people have almost no chance of winning the sweepstakes. Some people said the mixed messaging makes no sense and asked what the point of entering the sweepstakes is if you’re told you have no shot of winning it.

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The state has been encouraging people for more than a month to enter the Vax 2 the Max sweepstakes for the chance to win a grand prize of $5 million, giving people the incentive of cold hard cash to get vaccinated. “I want to win some money hopefully,” Albuquerque resident Debora Lucero said.

The department has been trying to reach people by putting prize wheels at vaccination sites, giveaways and more. “I have seen the billboards and thought it was kind of cool that you can win the money,” Kyle Hudson, who is visiting Albuquerque, said.

Thursday, NMDOH had a new message: You have a greater chance of getting struck by lightning than you do of winning the Vax 2 the Max sweepstakes. That is according to a new Tweet from the department Thursday afternoon. “What is the point of doing it then if you are basically telling me I have no shot at winning?” Hudson asked. “Why would I put myself in the position not to win?”

Screenshot of NMDOH tweet.

The Tweet read: “With the odds of winning the #Vax2TheMax sweepstakes steadily decreasing, getting struck by lightning seems increasingly likely.”

“The fact that they are saying they want you to do it, and oh, you can win $5 million, but you are probably getting struck by lightning first, to me that is just off-putting,” Hudson said. “It is going to make you not want to do it.”

KRQE News 13 reached out to NMDOH after seeing the Tweet and it was deleted less than an hour after it showed up. The department said they sometimes work with outside contractors to support outreach efforts, and they may have mistakenly posted something then corrected themselves. “I think they should be a little more positive about it,” Lucero said. “Maybe they would get more entries and more people would get the shot.”

Contradicting the Tweet, NMDOH went on to say the odds of winning these sweepstakes are actually “very, very good” compared to other lotteries and encouraged people to enter. “I still would,” Albuquerque resident Marisa Soto said. “I think there is a chance to get struck by lightning too. There is a chance for everything I think.”

Another strange part about NMDOH’s Tweet, according to the National Weather Service, the odds of getting struck by lightning in your lifetime are indeed better than winning the sweepstakes. However, the odds of getting struck in the next year are one in more than a million. Your chances with the sweepstakes are much better than that.

NMDOH responded Friday afternoon with the following statement:

“The contractor is Real Time Solutions (RTS), an Albuquerque-based company that has been at the center of the state’s efforts to fight the COVID-19 pandemic since the beginning (including testing, tracing, vaccinations, incentive campaigns, and more). RTS has developed many of DOH’s websites and has access to some of the state’s marketing channels, and the company has produced thousands of pieces of content since March of last year. RTS regrets this particular piece.

Leaders from the state and RTS have discussed the matter and taken steps to ensure that it will not happen again.”

Matt Bieber, Director of Communications for the New Mexico Department of Health