COLUMBUS, Ohio (WJW) – The first winners of Ohio’s Vax-a-Million drawing were announced Wednesday.
Abbigail Bugenske, of Silverton, was picked as the first of five $1 million winners Wednesday, while Joseph Costello, of Englewood, won a full-ride scholarship to any of Ohio’s state universities.
Bugenske is a graduate of Shaker Heights High School, her mother Lisa Bugenske confirmed to WJW FOX 8. Abbigail currently is working as an engineer in Southern Ohio.
The family is overwhelmed with the winning announcement, Lisa said. Abbigail had reportedly gotten the vaccine before the drawing was announced, and her family wants to get the word out about the importance of vaccinations. At this time, Abbigail is not speaking with reporters.
Ohio is giving away $1 million to five adults and full-ride college scholarships to five children who have received the COVID-19 vaccine in order to boost vaccination rates in the state.
The winners were picked Monday, and the state verified the eligibility of the two winners by checking residency and vaccination status.
The drawing included 2,758,470 adult entries for $1 million. In addition, 104,386 young Ohioans have registered for the scholarship drawing.
It was conducted using a Random Number Generator and observed by a representative of the Ohio Auditor of State.
Registration for the lottery started last week and the deadline to sign up for this week’s drawing was Sunday at 11:50 p.m. The deadline for the May 31 drawing is May 30.
The Ohio Department of Health claims the Vax-a-Million is already responsible for a bump in vaccination rates. Vaccinations in ages 16 and older were up 28 percent from May 14 to May 7, which was the weekend following the vaccine lottery announcement.
The previous weekend, it was down 25%, according to the state health department.
Ohio’s Vax-a-Million is an opt-in program, meaning you are not automatically entered. Applicants can enter online at ohiovaxamillion.com. Those without internet access can also enter by phone at 1-833-4-ASK-ODH (1-833-427-5634).
All Ohio residents who have had at least one Pfizer, Moderna or Johnson & Johnson shot can register. Once you’ve registered, you are entered in all remaining drawings.