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A shot at a million: Ohio offers vaccinated a chance to win big bucks, college scholarships

POLITICO logo POLITICO 5/13/2021 By Maria Carrasco
a close up of Mike DeWine wearing glasses and looking at the camera: Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine gives an update on COVID-19 at MetroHealth Medical Center in Cleveland on Feb. 27, 2020. © AP Photo/Tony Dejak, File Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine gives an update on COVID-19 at MetroHealth Medical Center in Cleveland on Feb. 27, 2020.

Ohio will give away $1 million each to five vaccinated adults within the coming weeks as an incentive for residents to get the shot, Gov. Mike DeWine announced on Wednesday.

The first drawing will occur on May 26, with subsequent drawings occurring each Wednesday for a total of five weeks. To win, participants must be 18 or older, an Ohio resident and vaccinated with at least one Covid vaccine dose before the lottery takes place. The five winners will receive $1 million from existing federal coronavirus relief funds, DeWine said.

“I know that some may say, ‘DeWine, you’re crazy! This million-dollar drawing idea of yours is a waste of money,’” the governor wrote on Twitter. “But truly, the real waste at this point in the pandemic — when the vaccine is readily available to anyone who wants it — is a life lost to COVID-19.”

The drawing will be conducted by the Ohio Lottery and will gather residents’ names from the Ohio secretary of state’s voter registration database. DeWine added that the state would create a webpage for people to sign up, and would release more guidelines for the drawing this week.


Video: Meet Ohio student who won scholarship in vaccine lottery (TODAY)

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DeWine also announced a separate drawing for 12- to 17-year-old vaccinated Ohio residents. On May 18, the state will open an electronic portal for those who meet the criteria to register to win a four-year scholarship — including tuition, room and board and books — to an Ohio public university. The first winner will be announced on May 26, with the state announcing one new winner each week for a total of five weeks.

“Everyone has a stake in more Ohioans getting vaccinated,” DeWine said in an address on Wednesday evening. “And so tonight, I am asking businesses across Ohio to reach out and offer incentives to get more people vaccinated.”

The drawings come as the Biden administration grapples with vaccine strategy while demand for the vaccine slows down. Some incentives include paid time off and free Lyft and Uber rides to get the vaccine, as well as free food and drinks.

Former Rep. Jim Renacci of Ohio, a Republican, fired back at DeWine’s announcement, saying the governor was jumping on the “socialist ‘Free College’ bandwagon.”

“Offering a 4-year all expenses paid scholarship in an effort to get CHILDREN vaccinated is a pointless waste of tax dollars no true conservative would ever support,” Renacci tweeted. “Ohioans deserve better!”

Renacci’s tweet comes after Brad Parscale, former President Donald Trump’s campaign manager, announced on Wednesday that he is advising the former lawmaker to possibly challenge DeWine in the Ohio governor primary.

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