Ohio’s ‘golden tickets:’ Everything we know about the $1 million vaccine sweepstakes

Five vaccinated Ohioans are about to get rich.
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Updated: May. 13, 2021 at 8:21 AM CDT
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COLUMBUS, Ohio (FOX19) - Ohio is giving out five separate million-dollar prizes to vaccinated adults in the state.

The sweepstakes, a national first, is intended as an incentive to get the COVID-19 vaccine, which Gov. Mike DeWine on Wednesday described as an “invisible shield” and a “proven weapon.”

DeWine made the announcement during a statewide address in which he also said Ohio’s health orders will end June 2.

Vaccinated teens, adults have chance to win scholarship or $1 million

The contest for adults aged 18 and over will begin May 26. The state will conduct random drawings for five successive Wednesdays. The winner each week will receive $1 million, sourced from unused federal coronavirus relief funds.

Ohio adults aged 18 and older will be entered into the weekly drawing, according to a release from DeWine’s office. All registered voters will automatically be included.

At least one vaccine dose is required to win. Once selected, officials will reach out to ask permission to call the resident’s medical provider to confirm the vaccination. Officials will also ask to see the vaccination card as proof.

If the drawing’s winner is not vaccinated, officials will move on to the second name and, if needed, the third. Officials are confident they won’t need to go much farther than that based on the percentage of Ohio’s adult population that is vaccinated.

Winners will not be able to remain anonymous.

Further details and contest rules will be announced by the Ohio Department of Health and the Ohio Lottery Commission next week during a briefing to news media.

A separate contest for Ohio teens aged 12-17, also beginning May 26, will offer five full four-year scholarships to any state university in Ohio. The scholarships will include tuition, room and board and books. An online portal will open for young people to register May 18.

The million-dollar sweepstakes is not without its critics, including Ohio House Minority Leader Emilia Sykes (D-Akron), who decried the use of federal relief funds.

“As elected leaders, we’re obligated to take seriously our duty to be good stewards of taxpayer dollars,” Sykes said in a statement. “Using millions of dollars in relief funds in a drawing is a grave misuse of money that could be going to respond to this ongoing crisis. Ohioans deserve better than this. I do hope people continue to get the vaccine and help our state reach herd immunity so our economy and way of life can thrive again.”

“Over the past year, Ohio has been overtaken and riddled with extremist, anti-science ideologies that dominate the state legislature. It is no coincidence that we are now facing significant vaccine hesitancy in our communities,” Ohio State Rep. Jessica Miranda (D-Forest Park) said. “While I’m supportive of educational scholarships, this is not a solution to our public health or educational shortfalls in Ohio, and I find it troubling that relief dollars are now being used on this stunt.”

“A vaccine lottery of $5 million in federal money is a reckless use of taxpayer funds. Convincing minors to get vaccinated with full-ride college scholarships is irresponsible. Ohioans should make healthcare decisions with their healthcare provider, not government incentives funded by the taxpayers.” Ohio State Rep. Jennifer Gross (R-West Chester) said.

However, Ohio State Senator Cecil Thomas (D-Cincinnati) disagrees.

“I think it’s thinking outside of the box. I think any area that we can entice our young folks to get the vaccine, that goes a long way to reaching a goal that we’re attempting to obtain,” Thomas said.

Ohio State Rep. Bill Seitz (R) also said he is on board with the plan.

“I think his ideas of incentivizing both young and older people to take the vaccine without mandating that they do so is a great idea, and I hope I win the million dollars,” Seitz said.

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