Amazon lottery offers vaccinated workers cars, $500k cash – summoning its inner Oprah – will offer cash prizes of as much as $500,000 (€425,000) as well as cars and vacation packages to frontline employees who can prove they have been vaccinated against Covid-19.

Unwilling so far to mandate vaccinations for its 1.3-million-strong workforce, the world’s largest online retailer is hoping a corporate lottery – called Max Your Vax – will persuade holdouts to get the jab.

The announcement, a copy of which was seen on Friday by Bloomberg, came the same day that Amazon said that starting 9 October workers would have to wear masks in its logistics facilities, regardless of vaccination status – a reflection of the severity of the spreading delta variant of the coronavirus. Vaccinated workers had been able to work at Amazon mask-free since late May.

Amazon had previously offered frontline workers as much as $80 if they were inoculated against the virus. The company is desperate for workers to keep up with elevated demand from online shoppers and staff dozens of new facilities coming online.

Some frontline Amazonians and their managers say the company is concerned mandates would send vaccine sceptics in their ranks in search of other jobs.

Amazon’s contest will offer a total of 18 prizes, which the company values at almost $2 million: two $500,000 cash awards, six $100,000 awards, five new vehicles and five vacation packages.

The company is not the first to hand out prizes to win over vaccine sceptics. Cash lotteries popped up in several US states during the initial rollout, Hong Kong offered gold bars and a diamond Rolex, and a Russian company raffled off a snowmobile.

Amazon’s contest is open to its frontline workers. That’s mostly people who work in warehouses and other logistics facilities, but also hourly workers at Whole Foods Market and Amazon Fresh grocery stores and in Amazon Web Services data centres.

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