Ohio to Give Five COVID-19 Vaccinated Residents $1M Each Through Special Lottery

Posted on: May 13, 2021, 01:56h. 

Last updated on: May 13, 2021, 02:56h.

The state of Ohio will turn five residents into millionaires starting in two weeks, and their shot at a $1 million prize is just that — a COVID-19 vaccination shot.

Ohio COVID lottery
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine receives his second dose of a COVID vaccine in February. On Wednesday, he announced that any Ohio adult who has had at least one dose of a vaccine would be eligible for five weekly drawings for $1 million each. (Image: Gov. Mike DeWine/Twitter)

Gov. Mike DeWine (R) made the stunning announcement Wednesday night. Starting on May 26 and every Wednesday after that for the next five weeks, the Ohio Lottery will conduct a drawing of adult residents of the Buckeye State who have received at least one dose of a vaccine. 

And, yes, the person whose name is drawn – provided they were vaccinated before the drawing took place – will receive $1 million.

“Now, I know that some of you are now shaking your heads and saying, ‘That Mike DeWine, he’s crazy! This million-dollar drawing idea of yours is a waste of money,’” DeWine said during his COVID-19 briefing. “But truly, the real waste at this point in the pandemic — when the vaccine is readily available to anyone who wants it… is a life that is lost now to COVID-19.”

The money for the “Ohio Vax-a-Million” drawings will come from federal funds given to the state from COVID-19 relief packages.

Additional details will come out starting on Thursday, the governor added.

COVID-19 Vaccination Rates Dropping

As the rate of COVID-19 vaccinations has dropped in the past month, states have looked for creative ways to entice the holdouts to get a shot. 

In Kentucky earlier this week, Gov. Andy Beshear (D) announced adults who get a shot at a participating Kroger or Walmart would get a free play for a Kentucky Lottery Cash Ball 225 drawing.

Ohio, according to data from the Johns Hopkins University of Medicine Coronavirus Research Center, has seen its seven-day average daily vaccinations go from 140,532 on April 11 to just 52,205 on Wednesday.

Across Ohio, nearly 9.2 million doses of vaccines have been administered, and nearly 4 million people are completely vaccinated. That equates to roughly 34 percent of the state.

Roughly, that means about 5.2 million Ohio residents have received a shot. Some of those are children, as the Pfizer vaccine has been approved for kids as young as 12 years old.

DeWine, though, isn’t keeping the kids out of the fun. While they cannot win a $1 million prize, the governor said kids who have received at least one dose will be entered into a separate drawing. Over a five-week span, the state will award five full-ride scholarships to a state university.

The state will create an electronic portal that will allow eligible kids to register for the drawings.

Ohio Vax-A-Million Draws Variety of Viewpoints

DeWine’s COVID-19 lottery plan drew a mixed response on social media.

Some, like Josh Mandel, Ohio’s former state treasurer, and a fellow Republican, used a popular Oprah meme to chide DeWine.


Others said the state could spend $5 million in taxpayer funds in better ways. For example, the money could go toward helping small businesses affected by COVID-19 shutdowns and restrictions. Or, Ohio could provide aid to a lot more individuals.

However, there were several who saw the idea as a creative way to encourage more people to get a vaccine. Even if felt like something out of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.