Ohio lottery to offer 5 people $1 million each for vaccination

·3 min read

“I know that some may say, “DeWine, you’re crazy! This million-dollar drawing idea of yours is a waste of money,” DeWine said on Twitter. “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 lost to COVID-19.”

Ohio is taking a bold step to incentivize COVID-19 vaccinations. On Wednesday, Gov. Mike DeWine announced that the state will give $1 million to five vaccinated Ohio residents through a lottery program starting on May 26th.

“I know that some may say, “DeWine, you’re crazy! This million-dollar drawing idea of yours is a waste of money,” DeWine said on Twitter. “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 lost to COVID-19.”

Ohio Gov. Mike Mike DeWine
(Credit: Gov. Mike DeWine)

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DeWine confirmed that the lottery will be paid for with federal Coronavirus Relief Funds, which has garnered both criticism and applause.

“Getting the COVID-19 vaccine is a personal choice. Let me be clear: I do not support Governor Mike DeWine’s decision to offer taxpayer funded incentives in an effort to get more Ohioans vaccinated before he lifts his health orders,” said Ohio House member Haraz Ghanbari.

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Others considered the lottery to be a savvy move for its appeals to human behavior and reaching communities that may be less receptive to the vaccines.

“Money is a universal motivator. The lottery decouples getting vaccinated from the specific vaccine-related benefits and reaches people who don’t respond to the usual approaches,” said Dr. Zoë McLaren, an associate professor of public policy at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.

“The Ohio lottery is innovative! No one has tried this before so there is a chance it won’t work very well. But if it succeeds it creates a blueprint for others to try a similar approach.”

Read More: Biden races toward new COVID-19 vaccine goal before variants undo U.S. progress

Kent State University student Marz Anderson (AP Photo/Phil Long)
Kent State University student Marz Anderson (AP Photo/Phil Long)

Ohio’s lottery is one of the boldest strategies put forth to get more people vaccinated as demand for them has slowed down. An estimated 36 percent of Ohio’s population has been fully vaccinated and 20,000 of its residents have died from COVID-19, the New York Times reports. Almost 36 percent of Americans are fully vaccinated and 46 percent have received at least one dose, according to the CDC’s Covid Data tracker.

Other states across the country are also rolling out creative offers for vaccinated residents. In early May, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that newly vaccinated people would receive free Mets tickets and in April, Connecticut started enticing residents with free beer.

“Two weeks from tonight on May 26th, we will announce a winner of a separate drawing for adults who have received at least their first dose of the vaccine,” said DeWine. “This announcement will occur each Wednesday for five weeks, and the winner each Wednesday will receive one million dollars.”

In addition to the lottery, DeWine also announced that five vaccinated Ohio teenagers will receive full-ride scholarships to state schools. The state’s first $1 million winner will be announced on May 26th.

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