The first winners in Ohio’s vaccine lottery were chosen Wednesday night.
“Abbigail Bugenske of southwestern Ohio took home $1 million after she entered the drawing along with more than 2.7 million other vaccinated Ohioans,” Fox News reported.
Joseph Costello, a teenager from the Dayton area, won a full scholarship to an Ohio state school after entering into the jackpot as a child between the ages of 12 and 17, who has been vaccinated.
As with the lottery jackpot, the state will give away four more scholarships to vaccinated children in the coming weeks.
The winners are part of Gov. Mike DeWine’s vaccination incentive plan called “Vax-a-Million,” which has, according to early results, encouraged more Ohioans to get vaccinated.
“From May 14 through May 19 as compared to May 7 through May 12, vaccinations in Ohio increased 94 percent among those 16 and 17 years old, 46 percent among those 18 and 19 years old, and 55 percent among those between 20 and 49 years old,” DeWine’s office claimed in a press release.
“In total, 2,758,470 individual Ohioans have registered for the $1 million Vax-a-Million drawing and 104,386 young Ohioans have registered for the scholarship drawings,” that release said.
Residents of the state can enter into the lottery if they have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
But the program hasn’t been implemented without pushback.
DeWine is facing criticism from state Rep. Jena Powell (R-80-Arcanum), a member of his own party, who says the lottery is a waste of money.
“This lottery is a waste of taxpayer dollars, and we know the money could be better spent in a multitude of areas,” Powell said in a statement. “For Governor DeWine to say that any vaccinated Ohioan can potentially receive $1 million through a lottery is an insult to our hard-working constituents.”
This week, she introduced House Bill 329, named the Taxpayer Protection Against the Frivolous Vaccine Lottery Act, which would redirect the lottery money to grants for small businesses that have suffered during the pandemic.
Her bill has 29 cosponsors, and would ban vaccine lotteries in the future.
Colorado has implemented a similar lottery system, and will also draw five $1 million winners, while New York is offering every vaccinated resident a free $20 scratch-off ticket, with a grand prize of $5 million.
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