Vax-a-Million Lottery: Questions and Answeres (Q&A)
Vax-a-Million Lottery: Questions and Answeres (Q&A)

Ohioans who have begun or are finished with the vaccination process have until 11:59 p.m. Sunday night to register for a chance to win $1 million, while teenagers can win a full-ride scholarship to an Ohio public college or university.

Last week, Abbigail Bugenske from Silverton in Hamilton County won the first $1 million prize. Joseph Costello from Englewood in Montgomery County won the first student full-ride scholarship, including four years tuition, books, and room and board at an Ohio school.

ODH reports a weekly average increase of 77%, or 68,667 more shots per week since the lottery was announced May 12.

“This data showing significant increases in vaccination numbers during the two weeks since the contest was announced demonstrates it is working,” said Ohio Department of Health Director Stephanie McCloud. “Vaccines are our best tool to return to the lives we remember from before the pandemic.”

To enter, go to www.ohiovaxamillion.com or call 833-4-ASK-ODH (833-427-5634). If you registered for the first drawing, you do not need to register for any of the following drawings.

The winners will be announced at 7:29 p.m. Wednesday.

Here are Questions and Answers (Q&A) everything to know the Vax-a-Million Lottery:

WHAT ARE THE ODDS OF WINNING VAX - A -MILLION?

As of May 24, 2,758,470 Ohioans registered for the $1 million drawing. So for each drawing, your odds are about 1 in 2.7 million.

Additionally, 104,386 young Ohioans — ages 12 through 17 — registered for the scholarship drawing. The odds here are considerably better.

Those odds will almost certainly worsen over the next few weeks as more people receive a shot of the vaccine.

DO I HAVE TO REGISTER TO WIN?

Individuals can also opt-in for eligibility by calling 1-833-4-ASK-ODH.

Previously, Ohio residents didn't have to do anything to have a shot at the big money.

But upon reflection, those in charge of the Shot-ery Sweepstakes, so to speak, found the process would be too chancy and cumbersome.

Names from the state's voting database were to be included automatically. But the options to provide contact information were considered too varied.

"That could slow down our ability to locate them and obviously we want to move this as quickly as we can," explained Stephanie McCloud, director of the Ohio Health Department.

"And we want to be able to contact and verify them within that 48 hours."

WHO IS ELIGIBLE FOR THE LOTTERY?

Any Ohio resident 18 years of age or older on the day of the drawing who has received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine at any point before the day of the drawing is eligible for the $1 million lottery.

Any Ohio resident 17 years or younger who has received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine at any point before the day of the drawing is eligible for the college scholarship lottery.

WHAT COULD I WIN?

Five adults will win a $1 million prize (taxes will apply). Five adolescents age 12 to 17 will win a four-year full scholarship — tuition, room, board and books included — to any of Ohio’s state colleges and universities.

HOW CAN I WIN $1 MILLION?

Five vaccinated adults will be chosen at random in five separate weekly drawings to win $1 million.

That $1 million will be taxed.

To be eligible, you need to be an Ohio resident and at least 18 years old. Additionally, Ohioans must have at least one dose of a vaccine by 11:59 p.m. Sunday before that week's drawing.

If you were vaccinated in another state, you can still register as long as you are a permanent Ohio resident.

HOW CAN I WIN A FULL SCHOLARSHIP?

There are incentives for young people too. Five vaccinated Ohioans aged 12 to 17 will be chosen at random to win a full four-year scholarship.

That scholarship includes tuition, room and board and books at any Ohio university. The same rules apply. You must have at least one shot of the vaccine by the time of the drawing.

They can opt-in on their own -- at the same website — but should their name be drawn they would need a parent or legal guardian to verify their information.

WHEN WILL WINNERS BE ANNOUNCED?

The first of five winners announced May 26, with four consecutive winners announced each Wednesday that follows.

Winners will be announced at 7:29 p.m.

Read More: Meet Abbigail Bugenske, Ohio’s first $1 million Vax-a-Million winner

HOW DOES THE DRAWING WORK?

The Ohio Department of Health will be the sponsoring agency for the drawings, and the Ohio Lottery will conduct them.

Winners will need to verify their vaccination status and will be asked to provide their vaccine card.

Up to 100 alternative names would be drawn if the winner cannot be verified as vaccinated, which begs the question about a potential criminal penalty since we're talking about such a large lump sum payout once taxes are deducted.

"I don't think there'll be any penalty," stated Gov. Mike DeWine. "We're not interested in penalties. We're interested in incentivizing people, kind of giving them one more fun reason to be vaccinated."

The lottery will conduct the drawings and says it has the capacity for up to 10 million entries.

The drawings will be on the next five Mondays. The winners will be known on the following Wednesdays.

"We have beefed up everything," said Maureen Hall, CIO of the Ohio Lottery. "And we certainly have the security protocols in place to ensure minimal downtime if it happens."

WHAT ARE THE ODDS OF WINNING?

As of Thursday afternoon, nearly 5 million Ohioans, about 42% of the state population, has received at least one shot, according to the Ohio Department of Health website. So adult vaccine recipients will have about a one in a million chance unless vaccination rates significantly increase.

For context, odds of winning a $1 million Powerball prize are about one in 11,688,053.52.

About 175,000 Ohioans age 19 and younger have received a COVID vaccine. The state website does not release more specific age data.

It’s too early to calculate odds for winning the scholarship. Before Thursday, only Ohioans 16 and older could receive a coronavirus vaccine. After a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention panel this week recommended the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for adolescents ages 12 to 15, Ohio began offering the shot to them on Thursday.

CAN WINNERS REMAIN ANONYMOUS?

Were you to win the Ohio Lottery $468 million Mega-Millions drawing, you could set up a trust and remain anonymous.

Winners of Vax-a-Million will not be allowed to do that.

Their names will be public.

WHERE IS THE MONEY COMING FROM?

The money will come from existing federal coronavirus relief funds, the governor said.

DeWine said he expected criticism about his decision to use federal relief bill dollars.

But he brushed it off by saying "It has not been done before. It's unusual. But these are unusual times."

WHAT ABOUT THE CRITICISM?

An Ohio lawmaker is drafting a bill to end Ohio’s Vax-a-Million giveaway and others like it.

Rep. Jena Powell called the $1 million lottery for vaccination Ohioans a “frivolous use of taxpayer dollars.”

The Republican said funds should be used in other ways, such as addressing children’s mental health.

"We don't need Governor DeWine giving us an award for getting a shot like when we were kids. Ohioans are smart/wise people who make decisions for themselves. The vaccine lottery is a frivolous use of taxpayer dollars," Powell tweeted.

She said she plans to formally introduce her bill this week. It’s the latest legislative effort to limit Republican Gov. Mike DeWine’s authority throughout the pandemic.

DeWine cast aside questions about Powell’s bill on Monday afternoon, pointing to increasing vaccination numbers as proof his vaccine lottery idea is working.

“We’ve seen increases really across all demographic groups,” DeWine said. “That’s a very, very good thing.”

The biggest increase in vaccinations in the 16- to 17-year-old age group: a 94% increase. Among 18- 19-year-olds, there has been a 46% increase. From the 20-49 age group, there has been a 55% increase in vaccinations, the governor said.

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