Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? Ohio Lottery to Give Five People $1m Each in COVID-19 Vaccine Push

  • The Ohio Lottery will award five Ohio adults $1m over five weeks starting May 26
  • Gov. DeWine admitted some might call him “crazy” and his idea a “waste of money”
  • Another lottery will give five Ohio youngsters the chance to win full-ride scholarships
  • DeWine’s Ohio Vax-a-Million brainchild will be paid for by federal coronavirus relief funds
  • The promotion targets the 20% of Ohioans who are reluctant to get the COVID-19 vaccine
Ohio Lottery logo on a smartphone app
Following Kentucky’s COVID-19 shots gamification push, Ohio will give five adults the chance to win $1m each via the state lottery if they get vaccinated. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Total of $5m up for grabs

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine’s COVID-19 shots-promoting brainchild will offer vaccinated Ohioans the chance to win $1m through the state lottery. The Ohio Lottery will conduct the draws starting May 26 and will award $1m on five consecutive Wednesdays to an adult who has received at least one shot.

DeWine took to Twitter yesterday to announce the scheme, admitting some might call him “crazy” and his million-dollar lottery idea a “waste of money.”

DeWine, however, justified his brainchild. He said the true waste was losing a life to the virus when vaccines were at the ready. While the move comes in the face of a reduced demand for the vaccine in Ohio, the governor is going in guns blazing, targeting even the state’s younger population.

Children as young as 12 can now get vaccinated in the US, after the Food and Drug Administration on May 11 gave the nod for the Pfizer vaccine to be made available for those aged 12 to 15.

An additional weekly lottery for 17-year-olds and under will run during the same timeframe as the $5m headliner. Five Ohio youngsters in this bracket who get a vaccine will get a full-ride scholarship to an Ohio public university.

Using federal coronavirus relief funds

Dubbed by DeWine as “Ohio Vax-a-Million,” the lottery scheme, whose legality the New York Times said “could raise questions”, will be paid for by federal coronavirus relief funds. Ohio’s gamification of its state COVID-19 vaccination push follows hot on the heels of Kentucky’s own initiative. The Kentucky Lottery launched its shots drive on May 11, announcing a collaborative promotion in which residents taking the needle have a chance to win $225,000.

The Kentucky Lottery shared news of its Kroger and Walmart-partnered needle sweetener via Twitter:

Kentuckians aged 18 or over getting their first or second inoculation at participating outlets will get a coupon for a free Kentucky Cash Ball ticket, with the grand prize of $225,000.

Ohio gunning for the shot-shy

According to the NY Times, DeWine broke additional news Wednesday that Ohio would, on June 2, lift all the health mandates it imposed during the pandemic. Only nursing homes and assisted living facilities in the state will remain under COVID-19 health orders after June 2.

64.5% on record as having received at least one dose

Cuurently, around 36% of Ohio’s population have gotten fully vaccinated, with 64.5% on record as having received at least one dose. That rate, according to The Columbus Dispatch, belies the fact the bulk of those inoculated in Ohio were “eager to be vaccinated and snapped up early appointments to get their shots.”

According to a US Census Bureau survey published on May 5, over 20% of Ohioans aged 18 or over said they will “definitely not” or “probably not” receive the vaccine.

DeWine’s Ohio Vax-a-Million drive looks set to encourage more of the shot-shy to roll up their sleeves.