Latest Vax-a-Million winners thought Governor’s phone call might be a scam

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COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Both of the latest Vax-a-Million winners were afraid the congratulatory phone calls they received from Governor Mike DeWine Wednesday evening were scams.

They spoke with the Governor Thursday via video link about winning Ohio’s Vax-A-Million lottery. 

Suzanne Ward, a marketing professor in Findlay, won the $1 million.

She said she definitely thought the Governor’s phone call was suspicious.

“I’m very cautious about answering the phone when I don’t recognize the number,” Ward said. She said she ignored two calls and a text from the Governor, then a member of the Governor’s staff showed up at her front door and handed her a phone.

“It’s still sinking in,” Ward said of her good luck. “I woke up and I wasn’t really sure whether I had a dream…it was just surreal.”

Ward said she’s going to enlist the help of a financial planner to decide how to best manage the money. But she did have a couple of ideas about how to spend it.

“The grandkids will have their college paid for. And we’ll look at what we’re passionate about in the community,” she said.

Sean Horning from Cincinnati is this week’s scholarship winner.

“My dad gave me a call; I thought it was a prank,” Horning said. “I called my mom and she was all jumping and crying. I pulled into a parking lot and gave you a call,” he told the Governor.

Horning said he just graduated from high school and the scholarship has opened up new options for him.

“I will definitely look at some good schools now that I have this exciting opportunity,” he said.

The Governor told Sean’s mom that she seemed the most excited of all about the family’s good fortune.

“I have no words,” she said. “I’m just so thankful — it’s a blessing.”

So far, Mark Cline, of Union CountyJonathan Carlyle, of Toledo, and Abbigail Bugenske, of Silverton, have won the first three of five $1 million prizes, while Sara Afaneh, of Sheffield LakeJoseph Costello, of Englewood, and Zoie Vincent, of Mayfield Village, have won full-ride scholarships to an Ohio-run university or college of their choice. 

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