Ohio will announce its first $1 million winner on Wednesday for the state’s highly anticipated Vax-a-Million lottery, an initiative to push people in the state to get their Covid-19 inoculations.
The winner, one of 2,758,470 adult entries in the drawing, will be the first of five state residents who are expected to be randomly selected for the cash prize, according to the state.
In addition to the $1 million drawing, one of104,386 residents between 12 and 17 years old will be selected to win a college scholarship. Ohio is offering five teenagers full-ride scholarships to any of its state colleges and universities, providing full tuition, room and board for four years.
Winners will be revealed each Wednesday through June 23 at 7:29 p.m.
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine publicly announced the Vax-a-Million program two weeks ago, telling residents that those who were vaccinated will be automatically entered for the lottery, paid for by federal coronavirus funds.
DeWine acknowledged that some people might consider the idea “crazy” and a “waste of money” but the state saw a surge in vaccine sign-ups almost immediately following the announcement. Appointments for shots spiked two days after, with more than 25,400 doses administered on May 14.
Last week, the state said it saw a 28 percent increase in vaccinations over the weekend following DeWine’s announcement. Stephanie McCloud, director of the Ohio Department of Health, credited the lottery program with the “dramatic increase” on Thursday.
“We are grateful that the drawings are helping spur Ohioans to take this important measure to protect their health, their loved ones, and their community,” McCloud said. “Vaccines are our best tool to return to the lives we remember from before the pandemic.”
New York and Maryland have introduced their own versions of vaccine lotteries since Ohio’s program launched earlier this week. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the state has seen a significant decrease in vaccinations as the most eager to get their shots have already been fully vaccinated.
New York’s Vax-N-Scratch pilot program offers those who get their inoculations at 10 state-run sites a ticket that offers 13 tiers of prizes — the lowest win at $20 escalating all the way to the $5 million jackpot. The chances of winning some amount of money are 1 in 9, according to Cuomo.
Gov. Larry Hogan announced that the Maryland Lottery will offer a $40,000 prize every day to a randomly selected vaccinated resident from May 25 to July 3. Then, on July 4, the state will offer a jackpot of $400,000.