Ohio Hands Out First $1 Million Lottery Prize to Vaccinated Resident

Gif: Ohio Lottery/YouTube

The state of Ohio has announced the first winner of the state’s $1 million prizes for residents who received the covid-19 vaccine. Anyone 18 and older who gets vaccinated in the state can win, and there’s even a special college scholarship prize available for 12 to 17-year-olds who get the shot.

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Abbigail Bugenske of Silverton, Ohio was announced as the first $1 million Vax-a-Million winner on Wednesday night, in a drawing administered by representatives of the Ohio Lottery. Bugenske works for GE Aviation, according to local TV station WLWT, and reportedly got vaccinated before the lottery was announced.

Joseph Costello of Englewood, Ohio won Wednesday night’s college scholarship giveaway, which covers tuition, room and board, and also books. Costello just finished eighth grade, according to the Springfield News-Sun and Governor Mike DeWine posted a photo of himself with the Costello family on Twitter.

There are four more college scholarships available, just as there are four more $1 million prizes to be handed out in the coming weeks.

The next drawings in Ohio will be on June 2, June 9, June 16, and June 23. And, as the Ohio Lottery notes, once you’ve entered, your name is in for all remaining drawings.

Governor Mike DeWine, a Republican, acknowledged when the lottery plan was first announced that some people might think he was crazy. But he’s certainly received plenty of attention for his public health effort, even if some of it is negative from his own party.

There’s an effort led by Ohio state Rep. Jena Powell, a fellow Republican, to pass legislation stopping the untraditional state lottery. But the governor has said he’ll veto anything like that if the bill makes it to his desk.

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DeWine wrote a piece for the New York Times on Wednesday explaining how the idea for the lottery came about:

I remembered a quote from Bill Veeck, the former Cleveland Indians, St. Louis Browns and Chicago White Sox owner: “To give one can of beer to a thousand people is not nearly as much fun as to give 1,000 cans of beer to one guy.”

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Several states have followed Ohio’s lead and have rolled out a cash lottery as an incentive for people to get vaccinated against covid-19. Colorado is offering five $1 million prizes just like Ohio, and Oregon has announced a $1 million prize along with 36 smaller $10,000 prizes for people in the state who get vaccinated by June 27. New York state is offering free scratch lottery tickets that normally cost $20 to people at state-run vaccination sites on specific days.

While 50% of Americans are now fully vaccinated, there’s still some vaccine hesitancy among some groups in the country. But there’s debate about whether lotteries are the way to really encourage people to get the jab. Ohio saw a surge in vaccinations immediately after the lottery was announced, though it was largely in more rural areas of the state. That surge has now died off, according to the New York Times, and some people are skeptical that lotteries are the way to go.

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Whether your state has a vaccine lottery or not, it’s a great idea to get vaccinated as soon as possible. It’s really the only ticket back to normal life.

Matt Novak is a senior writer at Gizmodo and founder of Paleofuture.com. He's writing a book about the movies U.S. presidents watched at the White House, Camp David, and on Air Force One.

DISCUSSION

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Bronx Resident Benjamin White

I really hate that this is what it takes to get somebody to take a vaccine that could save their life and the lives of people around them.

Not the well-being of your fellow human, but fucking greed.