Ohio vaccine lottery: How to sign up for $1 million prizes, scholarships

Midwest

A medical staff member prepares the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at Tudor Ranch in Mecca, Calif., Thursday, Jan. 21, 2021. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

COLUMBUS, Ohio (NewsNation Now) — You could win $1 million or receive a full-ride scholarship by getting the coronavirus vaccine in Ohio.

Beginning May 26, the Ohio lottery will provide a $1 million prize each Wednesday for five weeks. Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine made the announcement earlier this month but more details were disclosed Monday.

Adults at least 18-years-old who have received at least the first dose of the vaccine can register for a $1 million drawing. Five winners will be chosen in late May. Vaccinated teens can also apply for five full-ride scholarships to public universities in the state.

Ohioans age 18 and older who have received at least one dose of the vaccine can get into the drawing one of two ways. Those who are registered voters in the Secretary of State’s database will be entered automatically. A website will be available Tuesday for people to enter if they’re not in the elections system. Residents can also opt in by calling the state Department of Health at 833-4ASKODH. A person will only need to enter once for all of the vaccination drawings.

Each week, names of potential winners will be drawn and their eligibility verified, including whether they’ve been vaccinated, DeWine spokesman Dan Tierney said. Then their names will be announced during the Ohio Lottery Wednesday evening broadcast, he said. The winners will not have the option of remaining anonymous.

Vaccinated Ohioans under 18 will be entered into a similar drawing for full college scholarships, including tuition and room and board.

Those 17-years-old and under will be able to register for a drawing for a full four-year scholarship to a State of Ohio university. This includes tuition, room and board, and books.

The state Health Department will administer the drawings with help from the Ohio Lottery Commission. Winners will pay taxes.

The money will come from the Health Department’s unspent coronavirus relief funds. Ohio already distributed $5.9 billion in federal pandemic funds, and is now in line to receive nearly $5.4 billion in aid from Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package, amounts dwarfing the lottery payouts.

This comes as DeWine announced that statewide health orders will be lifted June 2.

DeWine said statewide health orders will be lifted in three weeks, June 2.

In the past year, DeWine faced intense criticism from members of his own party over Ohio’s continued health orders. While they welcomed the tandem news Wednesday that the state’s mask mandate and other orders would end June 2, they also expressed skepticism at the lottery announcement.

“I do not support using gameshow gimmicks with our federal tax dollars,” said Rep. Jon Cross, a Republican from Kenton in northern Ohio.

On the other side of the aisle, Rep. Emilia Sykes of Akron, the top House Democrat, questioned the use of federal funds for the lottery.

“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,” she said.

In Washington, Biden press secretary Jen Psaki said: “The Department of Treasury has comprehensive guidelines, but does not typically opine on each individual program or creative approach by different states.”

NewsNation affiliate WCMH and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

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