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Andrew Yang says he will give $1,000 a month UBI to 10 more families

Democratic presidential hopeful Tech entrepreneur Andrew Yang gestures during the third Democratic primary debate of the 2020 presidential campaign season hosted by ABC News in partnership with Univision at Texas Southern University in Houston, Texas on September 12, 2019.

Robyn Beck | AFP | Getty Images

Presidential candidate Andrew Yang plans to give more Americans $1,000 a month as he broadens a test of his signature campaign proposal.

The entrepreneur will give 10 more randomly selected families the monthly sum, his announced during Thursday’s Democratic primary debate. Yang has already started to give out $1,000 a month payments to several recipients out of his own pocket.

As he announced the move on the debate stage Thursday, Yang called it “unprecedented.” He urged Americans who “believe that you can solve your own problems better than any politician” to enter the online raffle for the $1,000 monthly sum.

Yang’s announcement was met with cheers from the debate crowd – and laughter and disbelief among his rivals on stage.

“It’s original, I’ll give you that,” South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg quipped.

A proponent of so-called universal basic income, Yang wants to give all Americans $1,000 a month. He calls it a “freedom dividend” designed to counter the rising threat of automation to jobs.

He plans to use campaign funds to pay out the $120,000 total. The campaign said it “consulted with [its] counsel, and the Freedom Dividends are fully compliant with all FEC regulations.” CNBC reached out to campaign finance lawyers about whether the move is legal but did not immediately hear back.

Americans can enter an online raffle to potentially win the payment.

Yang, who started Venture for America, which helps to land startup jobs for recent graduates, entered the presidential race as a relative unknown in a crowded field of elected officials. However, he has firmly planted himself in the top half of the 20-person Democratic pack, in part due to a strong online following and a message focused on planning for job automation.

Yang currently sits sixth in the national RealClearPolitics primary polling average.

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