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Ohio announces first $1 million, scholarship winners in vaccine lottery that's boosted vaccinations

Number of Ohioans 16 and older who received their initial COVID-19 vaccine increased 33% in the week after vaccine announced.

Published: May 27, 2021 6:49am

Updated: May 27, 2021 7:48am

Ohio announced the first winner of its $1 million Vax-a-Million vaccination incentive prize, a program designed to get more people to vaccinate.

The state announced Abbigail Bugenske, of Silverton, near Cincinnati, was the $1 million winner Wednesday, according to the Associated Press.

"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.

Along with Bugenske, Joseph Costello, an Ohio resident, won the first full-ride college scholarship, another prize offered by the incentive. The scholarship award includes tuition, room and board, and book costs.

The winners were selected in a random drawing Monday. More than 2.7 million adults signed up for the $1 million prize, and more than 104,000 children and teens signed up for the scholarship prize. 

The concept seemed to be working in at least the short term. The number of people in Ohio age 16 and older who received their initial COVID-19 vaccine jumped 33% in the week after the state announced its million-dollar incentive lottery, according to an Associated Press analysis.

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