‘A tornado’: first Ohio vaccine lottery winner speaks

Columbus, Ohio – The first winner of Ohio’s first $ 1 million Wax-A-Million Vaccination Incentive Award was going to her family’s home in suburban Cleveland when she received a call about the good news – from Gov. Mike Devine.

A few minutes later Abigail Bugenske was screaming so loudly at her parents’ house that she felt she was crying.

“A tornado,” Bugenske, 22, said during a press conference Thursday morning. “It’s not fully processed yet. I’m still digesting it – and I like to say that it seems to be happening to a different person. I can’t believe it. “

Bugenske is a mechanical engineer working for GE Aviation in suburban Cincinnati, and has no plans to leave his job. She grew up in Shaker Heights near Cleveland and is a 2020 graduate from Michigan State University. She said she plans to donate to the charity and buy a car, but then invest most of it.

The winner of a full college scholarship was eighth grader Joseph Costello of Englewood, near Dayton.

“Very excited,” Costello said during a virtual news conference sitting between his parents, Coleen and Rich. While this is a long way to go, Joseph said he has thought about Ohio State or Ohio’s Miami for college.

Colleen Costello said she got a call from the governor after she left work on Wednesday. At first he thought it was a recording, then he realized that it was Devin himself.

“I was really grateful at the time that there was a bench nearby, because I needed to sit,” she said.

Following the announcement, on Wednesday, Devine toured in person with the Costello family along with his wife Fran Devine. He said that he did not know the names of the winners until shortly before making the call.

The governor said, “Calling someone and telling them that they have won million dollars is a very good thing, and calling a family and letting them know that they have a scholarship paid for four years,” also Is fun.

Bugenske said that she received the modern vaccine as soon as she was eligible, long before the lottery was announced. Costellos said he had already been vaccinated and planned to vaccinate his children by the end of the month, but the announcement of the lottery prompted him to pursue those appointments.

More than 2.7 million adults signed up for the $ 1 million prize and more than 104,000 children between the ages of 12 and 17 entered drawing for college scholarships, including tuition, room and board, and books. Four more $ 1 million and college scholarship winners will be announced each Wednesday for the next four weeks.

Devine, a Republican, announced the program on May 12 to boost lagging vaccination rates.

The Ohio Lottery held the first drawing Monday afternoon at its Draw Studio in Cleveland, using a random number generator to select the winners ahead of time, and then confirmed the eligibility for the final winner.

Participants must register to enter via phone or the Wax-a-Million website. Teens can register themselves, but parents or legal guardians must verify their eligibility. The names of the winning entrants will be extended week by week. The new registration deadline is just before midnight on Sunday.

“I know some people might say, ‘Divine, you’re crazy! This million-dollar drawing idea of ​​yours is a waste of money,'” the governor said when announcing the incentive. But now with the readily available vaccine , The real waste, “is the life lost from COVID-19,” the governor said.

At least initially the concept seemed to work. According to an Associated Press analysis, after the state announced its million-dollar incentive lottery, the number of people aged 16 and older in Ohio who received their initial COVID-19 vaccine jumped 33% in the week.

But in the same review, it was also found that the vaccination rate is still far below the earlier figures of April and March.

More than 5.2 million people in Ohio had started the vaccination process by at least Monday, or about 45% of the state had started the vaccination process. About 4.6 million people are being vaccinated, or 39% of the state. Nationally, more than 165 million Americans have begun the vaccination process, or about 50% of the population. More than 131 million have been fully vaccinated, or about 40%.

Wax-A-Million is open to permanent Ohio residents who have received either the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine or the two-dose Pfizer or the first part of the modern vaccination.

Devine’s proposal prompted similar vaccine-incentive lotteries in Colorado, Maryland, New York State, and Oregon.

In Colorado, Democratic Gov. Jared Polis says there will be a weekly lottery for five residents in the state that will win $ 1 million on Tuesday to encourage COVID-19 vaccinations. Colorado is setting aside $ 5 million of the federal coronavirus relief fund that went toward vaccine advertising to win $ 1 million for five residents.


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