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First Ohio 'Vax-a-Million' lottery winners revealed

Washington Examiner logo Washington Examiner 5/27/2021 Jake Dima
Mike DeWine et al. posing for a photo © Provided by Washington Examiner

An Ohio adult and teenager are the first two winners of the state's "Vax-a-Million" lottery, which awards monetary sums to random residents who have received at least one COVID-19 shot.

Abbigail Bugenske of Silverton earned a $1 million check, while Joseph Costello of Englewood won a full scholarship to a state school, according to Ohio lottery officials. Ohio Gov. Mike Dewine, a Republican, posed for a picture with Costello on Wednesday.

The state's lottery is offering "five, four-year full-ride scholarships, including room-and-board tuition, and books to any Ohio state college or university" for teenagers between the ages of 12 and 17 in addition to five $1 million payouts to adults over the age of 18.

Subsequent winners will be revealed each Wednesday through June 23.


The competition, which is funded by federal coronavirus relief funds, has been the subject of pushback as a bipartisan group of legislators has argued it is a misuse of taxpayer funds. Dewine defended the program as a way "to generate excitement" for vaccinations.

"We needed something aspirational to generate excitement and motivate those on the fence to get vaccinated now. ... I was convinced that the excitement of people talking for weeks about who would be next to win a million dollars would significantly increase vaccinations," the governor wrote in an op-ed for the New York Times.

DeWine said the results have "exceeded [his] wildest expectations," with vaccination rates up 49% among those 16 and older, 36% among minorities, 65% among those living in rural areas, and 94% among 16- and 17-year-olds, according to the most recently available data.

"The publicity the lottery has generated has spread the word more cost effectively than a P.S.A. campaign would at this point, generating over $23 million worth of free ad equivalency dollars about vaccinations," he continued. "According to one estimate, preventing just 40 severe Covid-19 cases requiring hospitalization would pay for the entire program."


GOP state Rep. Jena Powell, who called Dewine's project "an insult to our hard working constituents", introduced House Bill 329, legislation that would redirect Vax-a-Million's funding. The bill had 29 cosponsors as of Tuesday.

A total of 39% of Ohio's population is fully vaccinated, while 45% have received at least one dose.

Tags: News, Ohio, Mike Dewine, Vaccination, Coronavirus, Lottery, College, Spending

Original Author: Jake Dima

Original Location: First Ohio 'Vax-a-Million' lottery winners revealed


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