Ohio woman wins $1 million jackpot and teen wins full scholarship in vaccine lotteries


The first vaccinated Ohioans hit the jackpot in the state’s “Vax-a-Million” lottery on Wednesday. 

Abbigail Bugenske of southwestern Ohio took home $1 million after she entered the drawing along with more than 2.7 million other vaccinated Ohioans. 

Four more drawings will take place over the next month as more residents get vaccinated. 

Joseph Costello, a Dayton-area teenager, also won the first full-ride scholarship to any Ohio state college as part of the lottery for 12- to 17-year-olds who have been vaccinated. Four more scholarships will be given out over the coming weeks. 

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“We’re excited that this has inspired so many Ohioans to get vaccinated, and we’re thrilled to announce the winners of the first round of drawings,” Gov. Mike DeWine said Wednesday. 

Health officials nationwide have come up with creative ways to incentivize holdouts – including cash handouts, free beer, and doughnuts – but Ohio was the first state to set up prizes in the seven figures. 

Multiple other states have followed suit, including Colorado, New York, Oregon, and Maryland. 

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis announced a similar lottery to Ohio with five $1 million prizes. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that everyone who gets vaccinated will get a free $20 scratch-off with a grand prize of up to $5 million. 

Ohio’s plan appears to be working as the number of residents who received their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine jumped 33% in the week following the lottery announcement, according to an Associated Press analysis of state data. 

About 5.2 million Ohioans, or 44.74% of the state, have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, and 39.19% are fully vaccinated. 

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Nationwide, more than 165 million Americans have received at least one dose, which is nearly 50% of the population. 

President Joe Biden set a goal of vaccinating 70% of Americans by July 4. Pennsylvania became the 10th state in the nation to hit that threshold Wednesday, along with Vermont, Hawaii, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Maine, New Jersey, New Mexico, and Pennsylvania. 

Another 10 states are above 65%, according to White House senior adviser Andy Slavitt.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.  



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