State Watch

Ohio vaccine lottery winner thought governor was a ‘prank call’

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The winner of Ohio’s $1 million vaccine lottery initially thought the call from Gov. Mike Dewine (R) announcing her victory was a prank, according to The New York Times

During an interview with the Times, Abbigail Bugenske, an engineer from Cincinnati, said she found out she won the lottery while driving to her parents’ house in Cleveland. When she received the call from the governor, she told the newspaper, “I thought it was a prank call initially.”

May 12, DeWine announced that the state would hold five lottery drawings for those who have received the coronavirus vaccine. Each drawing would give contestants a chance to win $1 million. 

The initiative was announced as a way to incentivize Ohioans to get the jab amid a declining number of vaccinations nationwide. 

Bugenske told the newspaper she received a flood of messages from friends and family about her drawing. She told the Times that she walked into her parents’ house in disbelief, shouting. 

“I was screaming enough that my parents thought that I was crying and that something was wrong,” Bugenske said. “I started yelling that I won a million dollars and I was going to be a millionaire.”

Bugenske is the first winner of Ohio’s $1 million Vax-a-Million campaign.  

Those who enter the lottery for the $1 million prize must be 18 or older. Those between the ages of 12-17 can receive a full-ride college scholarship if they get one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. 

DeWine on Thursday shared that Joseph Costello, 14, won a college scholarship. 

Bugenske said that she has no plans to quit her engineering job and plans to donate and invest her winnings, according to the Times.

Following the announcement of the incentive campaign, Ohio health officials said that the vaccination rate in the state jumped 28 percent. 

Tags Cleveland Lottery winner Mike DeWine Ohio
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