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Forget Mega Millions, Ohio Woman Wins State’s First $1 Million For Vax-A-Million


In an attempt to get more citizens vaccinated, Ohio Republican Governor Mike DeWine announced the Lottery program on May 12 to incentivize Ohioans to get vaccinated. Over 2.7 Million adults signed up for the chance to receive the $1 million prize, and more than 104,000 children ages 12 to 17 received vaccinations in order to enter the drawing for a college scholarship. The college scholarship includes room and board, tuition and books.

The Ohio Lottery conducted the very first Vax-a-Million drawing on Monday afternoon “at its draw studio in Cleveland using a random number generator to pick the winners ahead of time, and then confirmed the eligibility of the ultimate winner” reports the Associated Press. Monday’s lucky $1 million winner was Abbigail Bugenske of Silverton near Cincinnati. Joseph Costello was the first college scholarship winner.

Participants registered by phone or on the Vax-a-Million website. Four more winners in each of the two categories will be announced each Wednesday for the next four weeks. “We’re excited that this has inspired so many Ohioans to get vaccinated, and we’re thrilled to announce the winners of the first round of drawings,” said Governor DeWine.

When DeWine announced the lotto program he said, “I know that some may say, ‘DeWine, you’re crazy! This million-dollar drawing idea of yours is a waste of money,’” but with vaccine availability, the real waste “is a life lost to COVID-19.”

DeWine inspired similar incentives in Colorado, Maryland, New York and Oregon. Colorado’s Democratic Governor Jared Polis says the state will have a weekly lottery for five residents to win $1 million. The state set aside $5 million from its federal coronavirus relief funds that would have gone toward advertising in order to pay for the five residents to win $1 million each.