Winner of Ohio vaccine lottery says $1 million prize ‘pushed me over the edge’ to get a COVID shot

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‘When the Vax-a-Million thing started I immediately went down there and got it.’

Getting vaccinated against COVID-19 can really pay off.  

Ohio resident Jonathan Carlyle is the second winner of the state’s Vax-a-Million lottery, an incentive designed to give the state’s vaccination rate a boost by offering multiple million-dollar prizes and full scholarships to adults and teens, respectively, who get the Pfizer
PFE,
+0.46%,
Moderna
MRNA,
+5.56%
or Johnson & Johnson
JNJ,
-0.04%
jabs. 

And a shot at a million bucks is what finally convinced Carlyle, a 40-year-old father and Amazon
AMZN,
+0.60%
delivery driver living in Toledo, to get his COVID shot. His sister had been pushing him to get vaccinated after she and her husband contracted the coronavirus and his brother-in-law’s father died from COVID-19. So while Carlyle was leaning toward getting the vaccine, he kept putting it off.

“I kept hemming and hawing about it, and I work all the time,” he told the Toledo Blade. “And when the Vax-a-Million thing started I immediately went down there and got it. It pushed me over the edge.” 

Indeed, Ohio saw its COVID-19 vaccination rate jump 28% in the days following the lottery announcement last month. The Buckeye State also recorded a 45% spike in vaccinations between May 14 and 19 as compared with the prior week, thanks in part to the state’s Vax-a-Million lottery, Gov. Mike DeWine told reporters.

The vaccination rate has since leveled off, however. About 40% of Ohioans were fully vaccinated as of Wednesday, and 45.5% had received at least one dose of a COVID vaccine, which is below the national average. 

Read more: Ohio sees COVID vaccination rate soar 45% since announcing Vax-A-Million lottery

So how does the lottery work? Over five weeks, adult Ohioans who have received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose are being entered into a random drawing to win a million dollars. And younger vaccinated Ohio residents between the ages of 12 and 17 are part of a weekly random drawing to win a four-year scholarship to a public university in the state, which will include tuition, room, board and books. There will be five winners for each prize selected through June 23, and the winners are announced each Wednesday evening. 

More than 3.2 million Ohio residents have entered the drawing to win the $1 million prize, the Ohio Department of Health and the Ohio Lottery reported, and almost 133,000 Ohioans ages 12 to 17 have entered the college scholarship drawing. 

Carlye called his new millionaire status “overwhelming.” 

“I don’t know what to do. I’m still dreaming,” he said.

Carlyle expects that he and his girlfriend will continue working, and that they’ll use this extra money as a foundation for their family. He plans to pay off bills, and hopes to use some of the windfall to buy a house. “It’s going to be a good bedrock for our family,” he said. 

Several states including California, New York, West Virginia and Maryland are trying their luck at vaccine lotteries to get more people vaccinated. 

Read more: Babydog the bulldog is begging people to enter West Virginia’s vaccine lottery

Companies like Anheuser-Busch
BUD,
+0.59%
and Krispy Kreme
DNUT,

are offering freebies for customers with COVID-19 vaccination cards. And President Joe Biden has set a goal of getting 70% of Americans fully vaccinated by the Fourth of July,



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