In an effort to boost COVID-19 vaccinations in his state, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine has announced a new program to incentivize Ohioans to get their shots — a lottery, with the chance to win either $1 million or free college tuition.
DeWine, a Republican, made the announcement on Wednesday. He said that beginning May 26, the state would be holding two weekly lotteries for five consecutive weeks — one for kids aged 12 to 17, and one for adults older than 18.
For those aged 12 to 17, those eligible for the lottery must be vaccinated. The five winners will receive a full, four-year scholarship to any Ohio state college, including tuition, room and board and books.
DeWine said teens who have been vaccinated can begin signing up for the lottery online beginning on May 18.
On Wednesday, May 26th, we will announce the winner of a drawing of all those 17 years old and under who have been vaccinated, and the winner will receive a full, four-year scholarship to our State of Ohio universities. This will include tuition, room and board, and books.— Governor Mike DeWine (@GovMikeDeWine) May 12, 2021
For the adult lottery, DeWine said that all adult Ohioans who have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine are eligible. Each week, the state will select one person to receive $1 million.
He added that the pool of names for the lottery will be “derived from the Ohio Secretary of State’s publicly available voter registration database,” and added that the state will also launch a webpage later so those not registered to vote can still sign up.
DeWine said the funds for the lottery will be pulled from the federal COVID-19 relief stimulus.
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. This announcement will occur each Wednesday for five weeks, and the winner each Wednesday will receive one million dollars.— Governor Mike DeWine (@GovMikeDeWine) May 12, 2021
“I know that some may say, 'DeWine, you’re crazy! This million-dollar drawing idea of yours is a waste of money.' 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,” DeWine tweeted in announcing the lotteries.
According to Bloomberg, Ohio is lagging slightly behind the national average when it comes to vaccine distribution. The U.S. has administered enough doses to cover 41% of the population, while Ohio has distributed enough doses to cover about 40% of its population.
Ohio is following in the footsteps to its neighbor to the southeast, West Virginia, who is also offering a financial incentive to its citizens to get vaccinated. Last month, West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice announced the state would provide any citizen who got vaccinated with a $100 savings bond.
Despite the incentive, West Virginia is still lagging behind the U.S. in vaccine distribution — the state has administered enough vaccine to cover 35% of the population.