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Student wins $1MILLION in Ohio’s first ‘Vax-a-Million’ Covid jab lotto with four more jackpots up for grabs


A YOUNG college graduate has won $1million after being randomly selected from the Ohio Vax-a-Million vaccination incentive draw.  

Abbigail Bugenske, of Silverton, was announced as the first recipient of the coveted cash prize on Wednesday evening, after her name was selected from a random generator.

Abbigail graduated with a degree in mechanical engineering from Michigan State just last year

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Abbigail graduated with a degree in mechanical engineering from Michigan State just last yearCredit: Facebook
Abbigail was one of 2.7 million people that entered

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Abbigail was one of 2.7 million people that enteredCredit: Linkedin

More than 2.7 million Ohioans entered the competition.

The state also said a Dayton-area teen is the first winner of the program’s full-ride college scholarship. The names were announced Wednesday night at the end of the Ohio Lottery’s Cash Explosion TV show.

Four more winners of the $1m prize and four college scholarship winners will be announced each Wednesday for the next four weeks.

The state’s Republican governor, Mike DeWine, announced the program 12 May to boost lagging vaccination rates.

More than 2.7 million adults registered for the money prize and more than 100,000 children ages 12 to 17 entered for the scholarship, which includes tuition, room and board, and books.

The Ohio Lottery conducted the first drawing Monday afternoon at its draw studio in Cleveland using a random number generator to pick the winners ahead of time, and then confirmed the eligibility of the ultimate winner.

“I know that some may say, ‘DeWine, you’re crazy! This million-dollar drawing idea of yours is a waste of money,’” the governor said when he announced the incentive. But with the vaccine now readily available, the real waste, “is a life lost to Covid-19”, the governor said.

Abbigail’s grandmother told The Washington Post that she was in disbelief at the news. 

“I kept saying, ‘stop, this is a scam. It’s, what, a million? No, you don’t mean a million, you mean a thousand!” she giddily told the publication.  

Bugenske is an engineer at GE Aviation and a grad school student at The Ohio State University, according to her Facebook profile.

Abbigail was reportedly eager for herself and her family to get the vaccine

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Abbigail was reportedly eager for herself and her family to get the vaccineCredit: Facebook

She graduated with an undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering from Michigan State just last year.  

Bugenske was reportedly eager to receive her vaccine, and even pushed for her elderly grandmother to have her shots.

“She encouraged me all the time to get it,” Bungenske’s grandmother said adding that she has now had both her Moderna jabs. 

Meanwhile, Joseph Costello, of Englewood near Dayton, was announced Wednesday as the first winner of the full-ride college scholarship to entrants under the age of 18.

“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,” said Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine in a statement. 

DeWine, a Republican, posed for a photo with Costello and his family, which he posted to Facebook. 

The governor announced the vaccination incentive competition on May 12 in a bid to boost lagging vaccination rates.   

Joseph Costello, of Englewood near Dayton, was announced Wednesday as the first winner of the full-ride college scholarship. Here pictured front and center with Gov. Mike DeWine (second from left)

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Joseph Costello, of Englewood near Dayton, was announced Wednesday as the first winner of the full-ride college scholarship. Here pictured front and center with Gov. Mike DeWine (second from left)Credit: Mike De Wine/Facebook

The number of people in Ohio age 16 and older who received their initial Covid-19 vaccine jumped 33 percent in the week after the state announced the incentive lottery, according to an Associated Press analysis.

The governor announced the vaccination incentive competition on May 12 in a bid to boost lagging vaccination rates.   

The number of people in Ohio age 16 and older who received their initial Covid-19 vaccine jumped 33 percent in the week after the state announced the incentive lottery, according to an Associated Press analysis.

However, not everyone was impressed. 

Rep Jena Powell, an Ohio Republican in the state legislature, attempted to block the state’s lottery program, calling it a waste of resources. 

Powell referred to the lottery as a “grave misuse” of funds earlier this week. 

More than 5.2 million people in Ohio – or about 45 percent of the state – had at least started the vaccination process as of Monday. 

About 4.6 million people, or 39 percent of the state, have had both doses.

Nationally, more than 165 million Americans have started the vaccination process – almost half of the entire population. 

Vax-a-Million is open to permanent Ohio residents who have received either the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine or their first part of the two-dose Pfizer or Moderna vaccination. 

Participants must register to enter by phone or via the Vax-a-Million website. The deadline for new registrations is just before midnight on Sunday.





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