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Ohio Vax-a-Million: Fourth of 5 vaccine lottery winners selected

WLWT Cincinnati logo WLWT Cincinnati 6/16/2021
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Ohio's fourth Vax-a-Million winners have now been drawn. But we'll have to wait until Wednesday night to find out who won.

Two additional winners have already been chosen — one adult will win $1 million, and one person aged 12 through 17 will win a full-ride scholarship.

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Both were chosen Monday afternoon via a random number generator, lottery officials said. But no one will know who won Ohio's vaccine lottery — not even the winners themselves — until Wednesday evening.

With more than 5.4 million Ohioans who have started the vaccination process, not all who are eligible have entered. Ohio Vax-a-Million is an opt-in program, meaning you are not automatically entered


The names of those winners will be announced at 7:29 p.m. Wednesday.

This is the fourth of five total drawings in Ohio, a COVID-19 vaccination incentive dreamed up by Gov. Mike DeWine.

Time is needed between the drawing and announcement for verification purposes, state officials said.

Both winners have to be vaccinated and Ohio residents. Up to 100 alternative names would be drawn if the winner cannot be verified as vaccinated.

Below are the first six winners of Ohio's Vax-a-Million program.

Mark Cline, of Richwood ($1 million)

A 64-year-old retiree is Ohio's third -- and latest -- $1 million Vax-a-Million winner.

Mark Cline, of Richwood, was announced as the third of five $1 million winners in Ohio's vaccine lottery.

Cline said he didn't receive a phone call from Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, which has been customary during the first two drawings.

Instead, Cline said the governor showed up at his doorstep to tell him -- in person -- that he was the latest winner in Ohio's vaccination incentive program.

“We were watching the television, the doorbell rang, and my wife looked on the Ring cam and said ‘there’s some guys out there in suits,’” Cline said through a massive smile in an interview with WBNS.

“I go to the door, I opened it up and I recognized Gov. DeWine standing out there," he said. “I shook his hand and he said, ‘Well, congratulations. You just won a million dollars.’”

The 64-year-old said he and his wife invited the governor and First Lady Fran DeWine into their living room, where they all watched the television broadcast of the vaccine lottery together.

Cline said he received his COVID-19 vaccine at the Union County Fair Ground long before the Vax-a-Million lottery was thought up. He said it's important for everyone to get their vaccine.

“I think it’s really important to get that vaccine. Everyone that doubts it, it was no big deal – two little pinches and it was done," he said.

Cline retired in 2016 after working for Marathon Petroleum for over 20 years. He moved from Findlay to Richwood to be closer to his children and grandchildren.

As to what Cline has planned for the money? He said he has very few plans for himself, but he hopes to spend the money on his family and, perhaps, charitable causes.

“My family is already making plans for a beach vacation. (I’ll use the money) to just help out family. I’m retired, so – you know – I’m not dying for money, but it certainly is a life-changer. It can help others who kind of need something,” he said.

“I really love that they were giving scholarships as part of this. So I might do something to put some money toward scholarships for kids.”

Cline said he has a rather large family and hopes to spend as much time with them as possible.

"I'm happy," he said. "I'm so happy!"

Sara Afaneh, of Sheffield Lake (Scholarship)

Sara Afaneh, of Sheffield Lake, was announced as Ohio's third full-ride-scholarship winner in the Vax-a-Million program. That scholarship also includes room, board and books. However, winning a scholarship does not guarantee admission.

The 13 going on 14-year-old said her mom was the one that told her she had won the scholarship lottery.

"It was very exciting, surreal for sure," Sara's mom, Summer, said in a press conference Thursday with DeWine.

The youngest winner so far, Sara said while she's thought about going to college but hasn't really looked into a university or area of study.

Her mother said while Sara's 17-year-old sister was a little envious, she told them that whatever helps Sara will help the whole family as well.

Summer said more than anything, they were grateful to be eligible for the vaccine and for the opportunity to enter. She said her husband and father-in-law came down with COVID-19 and were very sick so they did not hesitate to get the vaccine when it came out.

Video: Vax-a-Million: Will Ohio's $1M vaccination lottery be incentive enough? (WLWT Cincinnati)

Vax-a-Million: Will Ohio's $1M vaccination lottery be incentive enough?

"I'm a nurse, so I've seen the damage COVID has done," Summer said. "So for me, it was a no-brainer, as soon as they were eligible, we signed them up and took them in."

Jonathan Carlyle, of Toledo ($1 million)

An Amazon delivery driver is Ohio's second $1 million Vax-a-Million winner.

Jonathan Carlyle, of Toledo, is the second Ohioan to win the state's vaccination incentive grand prize.

Carlyle is an Amazon delivery driver. Carlyle said he was just getting off work around 7 p.m. when he received a call from Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine.

"I actually missed the call," Carlyle said. "I was checking out from work and had to call him back. But I was shaking when I talked to him when I heard his voicemail -- I knew what it was and about lost it."

The governor said he plans to make a habit of calling the state's Vax-a-Million winners ahead of each Wednesday's 7:29 p.m. drawing.

“It’s overwhelming. I don’t know what to do. I’m still dreaming," Carlyle said of that call.

The Toledo man said he doesn't have any big plans for his new money -- first pay off bills, then, perhaps, a house.

"I got a lot of bills to pay – so that’s the first thing that’s going to happen,” he said through a massive smile.

“Pay some bills and probably buy a house. I’m going to keep working. My girlfriend is going to keep working – it’s going to be a good bedrock for our family. It’s going to be awesome.”

Carlyle said the state's Vax-a-Million drawing actually inspired him to finally get the COVID-19 vaccine. After winning $1 million, he said it was well worth it.

"Get vaccinated! Do it! We need to!" he said.

Zoie Vincent, Mayfield Village (Scholarship)

Ohio's latest winner of the Vax-a-Million scholarship said she wasn't expecting the call Wednesday after signing up for the lottery while waiting to receive her second dose of the vaccine.

Zoie Vincent was announced as Ohio's full-ride scholarship winner. Vincent was out of town at the time of the drawing but found out about her luck via a FaceTime call from the governor.

"So you made a call to my dad and it was just kind of ... weird and he just kept saying your name and I was like, 'What's happening?' And he said I won the scholarship," Vincent said.

"It was really wild. It came out of nowhere. We weren't expecting it. It was a super big surprise. We were all so excited."

Vincent said she is interested in pursuing a career in medicine, specifically pre-med or a biology program. She said she has been looking at schools such as Ohio State University and Case Western Reserve University.

"I have been interested in medicine and science for as long as I can remember," Vincent said.

She said she has completed one year as a med tech at school and it helped solidify her passion for science. She said the scholarship will help her focus on her education in medicine and not student loans.

"I could see my career instead of me paying off my debt so it was a big relief in that sense," Vincent said.

Vincent said she did not hesitate once she was eligible for the vaccine, saying she got COVID-19 a while back and was very sick and wants to do what she can to prevent that from happening to others.

Abbigail Bugenske, Silverton ($1 million)

Abbigail Bugenske has won Ohio's first $1 million jackpot in the state's Vax-a-Million lottery.

A recent college graduate, the 22-year-old Bugenske lives in the Cincinnati area, residing in the small and quiet village of Silverton about 11 miles northeast of the city.

She works for GE Aviation, recently moving to the area for her job.

She's also an Ohio State University student pursuing a master's in aerospace engineering and graduated from Michigan State University in August of last year.

Speaking to the press for the first time, Bugenske said she has no plans to quit her current job — a job she loves — and plans to donate at least some of her winnings to charity.

“I was completely surprised when I got the call. I still can’t believe it. It was a crazy night," the 22-year-old said.

Bugenske received a personal call from Gov. Mike DeWine, shortly before the state's 7:29 p.m. drawing.

“Calling someone and telling them that they won a million dollars is a great thing," the governor said through a large smile, remembering Bugenske's reaction.

She was driving from the Cincinnati area to her parents' house in the Cleveland area, a bit oblivious that the drawing was currently happening.

“I was screaming enough that my parents thought I was crying and that something was wrong," she said. "And when I started yelling that I won $1 million and was going to be a millionaire, they told me to calm down and make sure it wasn’t a prank before I really started freaking out.”

The call was, in fact, real. Bugenske said her phone began to blow up with notes from friends and social media friend requests.

The 22-year-old said she received the COVID-19 vaccine long before the birth of the Vax-a-Million program, but added that if winning $1 million isn't an incentive enough, she doesn't know what is.

“I originally got vaccinated just to protect friends, family and everyone I came in contact with,” she said, adding that Vax-a-Million win was just a bonus.

Joseph Costello, Englewood (Scholarship)

He’s only 14, but can attend almost any college he wishes.

Joseph Costello, of Englewood, was announced as Ohio's first Vax-a-Million scholarship winner, awarded a full-ride scholarship at only 14 years old.

His mother is a chemical engineer and his father is a school teacher. But neither of them will need to figure out how to pay for Joseph's college.

“My first reaction was I thought maybe I was listening to your voice -- that it was a taped message," mother Colleen Costello told Ohio Gov. Mike Dewine. "The more we talked, the more I realized it was really live. I was really thankful that moment because there was a bench nearby. I needed to sit down and sort of ... ground myself a little to absorb the information you were sharing.”

Joseph had just finished the eighth grade. He just received his first shot on Saturday ahead of Wednesday evening's drawing.

His mother entered Joseph and her two other children in the lottery.

Now, he gets free college tuition. That scholarship also includes room, board and books. However, winning a scholarship does not guarantee admission.

In a big update, DeWine announced that the state will put money into a 529 Plan for the winner. The amount of money put in will be equal to the highest Ohio state university cost. That way, the winner can still go to a college of his or her choosing.

Joseph said he's still unsure what he wants to study, or which university he wishes to attend. But the 14-year-old still has time to think about that.

READ THE FULL STORY:Ohio Vax-a-Million: Fourth of 5 vaccine lottery winners selected

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