By Andrew Welsh-Huggins | Associated press
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) – A woman from southwestern Ohio won the state’s first million dollar Vax-a-Million Vaccine Incentive Award, while a teenager from The Dayton area received the first full college scholarship offered by the program, the state said on Wednesday night.
The winners, whose names were drawn from over 1.5 million entrants, were selected in a draw on Monday and their information was confirmed ahead of the official announcement at the end of the Cash Explosion TV show. the Ohio Lottery.
The lottery announced that Abbigail Bugenske of Silverton near Cincinnati was the million dollar winner, while Joseph Costello from Englewood near Dayton was the winner of the college scholarship.
“We are thrilled that this inspired so many people in Ohio to get vaccinated, and we are thrilled to announce the winners of the first set of drawings,” Governor Mike DeWine said.
Over 2.7 million adults registered for the $ 1 million prize and over 104,000 children ages 12 to 17 registered to draw for the college scholarship. Four more winners of $ 1 million and college scholarships will be announced every Wednesday for the next four weeks.
DeWine, a Republican, announced the program on May 12 to increase late vaccination rates. More than 2.7 million adults registered for the cash prize and more than 100,000 children aged 12 to 17 participated in the scholarship, which includes tuition, accommodation and board, and books.
Four more million dollar winners and a college scholarship will be announced every Wednesday for the next four weeks.
The Ohio Lottery conducted the first draw on Monday afternoon at its Cleveland raffle studio using a random number generator to choose winners in advance, then confirmed the final winner’s eligibility.
Participants must register to register by phone or through the Vax-a-Million website. Teens can register themselves, but parents or legal guardians must verify their eligibility. The names of the participants who do not win will be carried over from week to week. The deadline for new registrations is just before midnight on Sunday.
“I know some may say, ‘DeWine, you’re crazy! This million dollar drawing idea is a waste of money, ”the governor said in announcing the incentive. But with the vaccine now readily available, the real waste, “is a life lost to COVID-19,” the governor said.
The concept seemed to work, at least at first. The number of people aged 16 and over in Ohio who received their initial COVID-19 vaccine jumped 33% in the week after the state announced its million-dollar incentive lottery. dollars, according to an Associated Press analysis.
But the same review also found that vaccination rates are still well below the figures for April and March.
More than 5.2 million people in Ohio had at least started the vaccination process as of Monday, or about 45% of the state. About 4.6 million people have finished getting vaccinated, or 39% of the state. Nationally, more than 165 million Americans have started the immunization process, or nearly 50% of the population. More than 131 million are fully vaccinated, or nearly 40%.
Vax-a-Million is open to permanent residents of Ohio who have received the one-dose vaccine from Johnson & Johnson or their first part of the two-dose Pfizer or Moderna vaccination.
DeWine’s proposal inspired similar vaccination incentive lotteries in Colorado, Maryland, New York State and Oregon.
In Colorado, Democratic Governor Jared Polis said the state will hold a weekly lottery for five residents to win $ 1 million on Tuesday to encourage COVID-19 vaccinations. Colorado is setting aside $ 5 million in federal coronavirus relief funds that would have been used to advertise vaccines for five residents to earn $ 1 million each.