As the son of a billionaire, Milwaukee Bucks executive Alex Lasry is used to jumping to the front of the line.
The 33-year-old New York native is even thinking of running as a Democrat for the U.S. Senate from Wisconsin, despite his lack of political experience.
But Lasry said Thursday that he didn’t receive any favoritism when he got a COVID-19 vaccination on Monday afternoon at Ovation Chai Point Senior Living on Milwaukee’s east side.
“I just got lucky,” Lasry said.
Lasry, the son of Bucks co-owner Marc Lasry, said his wife, Lauren, got a call on Monday from her uncle, who is rabbi at Chai Point, saying the senior living center had some extra, unused doses of the vaccine.
Because she is pregnant, Lasry said, his wife chose not to get a shot. So Lasry said he stepped forward so the medicine wouldn’t go to waste.
He said he didn’t receive special treatment because of his position with the Bucks, his political aspirations or his father’s riches. A hedge fund manager, Marc Lasry is chairman, chief executive officer and a co-founder of Avenue Capital Group.
Lasry said he has never donated to Chai Point.
“That has nothing to do with anything,” Lasry said. “Honestly, if I wasn’t married to Lauren, I don’t know that I would have gotten a call or known about it.”
So it was a matter of family connections, not money.
“The Jewish community (in Milwaukee) is a small community,” Lasry said.
But wouldn’t the Bucks exec been better off — with fans and voters — had he slotted in Giannis Antetokounmpo for the jab instead of taking it himself?
Except NBA officials have said repeatedly that they would not try to get first dibs on the vaccine for players or other personnel.
Vaccines, they say, should go first to people at the highest risk of getting coronavirus or for medical professionals and nursing-home workers who must have close contact with high-risk people.
That would not include people like Lasry, who is young and healthy.
“We won’t be jumping the line,” Dr. Leroy Sims, the NBA senior vice president of medical affairs, told The Undefeated this week. “As it relates to some of our coaches and older individuals, some of them are in categories that allow them to get vaccinated. But that will bear out the way that the local hospitals, departments of public health are rolling out the vaccine and setting up the prioritization.”
Wisconsin still lagging in vaccinations
Many in Wisconsin will likely be jealous of Lasry.
That’s because the state continues to lag its Midwest counterparts in getting its residents vaccinated against COVID-19 and has received fewer doses than other states of its size.
As of Wednesday, only 5.8% of the state’s population had gotten at least one anti-coronavirus shot, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. By comparison, North and South Dakota have given shots to roughly 10% of their residents.
This week the vaccine was made available to Wisconsinites 65 and older. The state has been receiving about 70,000 doses a week. Each person needs to receive two doses to be fully vaccinated.
Not even Gov. Tony Evers — a 69-year-old cancer survivor — has received his first vaccination, his office confirmed.
“It is going to take us a long time to get these vaccines in peoples’ arms,” he said at a news briefing earlier this month. “I know I’m towards the end of the line here — very close to it — and I don’t expect to get vaccinated till this summer.”
On Friday, the first-term Democratic governor said he didn’t know enough about Lasry’s situation to comment. He added: “I personally, and my wife, have not jumped the line.”
It’s not clear if there will be political repercussions for Lasry, whose official job title is senior vice president for the Milwaukee Bucks. He was also host committee chair for the 2020 Democratic National Convention.
He is one of a handful of Democrats considering whether to run for U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson’s seat in 2022.
Johnson, a Wisconsin Republican, vowed to serve only two terms but is weighing whether to break that promise. If he does seek another six-year term, the conservative firebrand will face a stiff challenge from the left.
On Tuesday, Lasry told radio talker Steve Scaffidi of WTMJ-AM (620) that he is seriously weighing a run.
“We need better people there,” Lasry said of Washington, D.C. “It frustrates me, more than anything, because these are supposed to be leaders and people looking out for the best interests of the country. Unfortunately, a lot of people you see in D.C. right now are looking out more for themselves.”
Couldn’t the same be said for Lasry with his decision to get a COVID-19 vaccine before 94% of the state’s population?
Not at all, Lasry said.
“I didn’t seek it out in any way,” he said.
Lasry noted the state’s deputy secretary of the Department of Health Services had urged vaccinators to give unused shots to anyone who is available if people in the eligible groups aren’t around. That’s what happened, he said, in his case.
He didn’t hide the fact of who he was when he went to Chai Point. He wore a Bucks hoodie and mask and talked to a number of people in the room.
“There was no one there who thought I shouldn’t be there or said anything to me,” Lasry said. “I wouldn’t have gone if I wasn’t told that all of the people who were living there had already gotten vaccinated — and if they didn’t do this soon, the shots would have been gone to waste.”
Just call him a lucky guy.
Contact Daniel Bice at (414) 313-6684 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @DanielBice or on Facebook at fb.me/daniel.bice.