Obama administration offering taxpayer-funded cash prizes for viral videos

by: Patrick Terpstra Updated:


WASHINGTON - Half a million YouTube viewers witnessed a man tumble backward off an exercise ball. More than a million people saw video of a jogger plunging off a treadmill.

Wince-worthy videos tend to go viral, which is a reality federal health officials are embracing to promote new insurance options for young people available this fall under the Affordable Care Act.

The Department of Health and Human Services and the group Young Invincibles have launched a contest asking for video skits of young people showing the importance of health care at any age.

The website advertising the competition shows a woman tumbling off a coffee table as an example.

People can also enter animated videos or songs about health care.

"This is designed to be fun," said Aaron Smith, executive director of Young Invincibles.

Taxpayers will pay for the $30,000 in prizes, including money for water bottles, T-shirts and first aid kits.

Leslie Paige, vice president of Citizens Against Government Waste, said public dollars should not be spent on prize money.

"It's a massive misuse of money," Paige said.

Smith said the competition will prove to be a cost-efficient way to reach millions of young people. Winners are expected to be announced Oct. 1.

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