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First Winner Of $1M Ohio Vaccine Lottery Announced: ‘I Cannot Believe It’
Falling Money (XXXL) - stock photo US Currencies, $100s, $20s, and $10s in various shape and angles. Image requested by buyers. Kativ via Getty Images
Kativ via Getty Images

The first recipients of Ohio’s vaccination incentive program were announced Wednesday night, including a lottery winner of $1 million and a teen who won a full scholarship to college.

As The Associated Press reported, “The winners were selected in a random drawing Monday and had their information confirmed before the formal announcement at the end of the Ohio Lottery’s Cash Explosion TV show.”

“The lottery announced that Abbigail Bugenske of Silverton near Cincinnati was the $1 million winner, while Joseph Costello of Englewood near Dayton was the college scholarship winner,” noted the AP.

“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,” said Republican Governor of Ohio Mike DeWine.

“A whirlwind,” Bugenske, 22, said Thursday morning during a press conference. “It absolutely has not processed yet. I am still digesting it — and I like to say that it feels like this is happening to a different person. I cannot believe it.”

“Very excited,” Costello said as he sat with his parents.

More states across the country have followed the example of Ohio, with Oregon, Colorado, Maryland, and New York state announcing that they will provide residents with the ability to receive prizes if they get vaccinated against COVID-19.

As The Daily Wire previously reported, “Maryland Governor Larry Hogan (R-MD) announced his state’s contest in a presser [earlier this month], while standing next to a man dressed in a lottery-ball suit, reports The New York Times. Beginning May 25, one Maryland resident will be selected to win $40,000 every day until the Fourth of July, at which point a final jackpot of $400,000 will be awarded.”

“All you have to do is get vaccinated for Covid-19 here in Maryland, be a Maryland resident, and be 18 or older,” said Republican Governor Larry Hogan, reports NBC News. “Anyone 18 years or older who has already been vaccinated for Covid-19 in Maryland is also eligible for these prizes and will automatically be entered to win.”

Governor Andrew Cuomo (D-NY) announced that ten vaccination locations across the state of New York will offer scratch-off tickets at no cost for the “Mega Multiplier” Lottery. “The tickets will be handed out to adults between May 24 and May 28, but the contest does not appear open to those who have been previously vaccinated,” The Daily Wire noted.

“The chances of winning something in this program is one in nine,” said Cuomo.

Earlier this month, Dewine announced the program in Ohio, stating that adults who are vaccinated against the coronavirus will be entered into a lottery to win $1 million, while children who get the COVID-19 vaccine will get the chance to will a full scholarship to go to Ohio state universities.

“The money will come from existing federal pandemic relief dollars, DeWine said, and the Ohio Lottery will conduct the drawings,” The Associated Press reported at the time.

“I know that some may say, ‘DeWine, you’re crazy! This million-dollar drawing idea of yours is a waste of money,’” DeWine said at the time. But the true waste, when the vaccine is now available, “is a life lost to COVID-19,” the governor reportedly said.

The idea appeared at first to boost motivation among Ohio residents to get vaccinated. According to the Ohio Department of Health, vaccinations among people ages 16 and older increased “by 28% for the same age group from May 14 to May 17, the weekend following the announcement of the Vax-a-Million drawings.”

Oregon and Colorado have also put forward similar programs to inspire people to get vaccinated.

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