Ohio citizens who commit to getting a COVID-19 vaccination shot in the coming weeks could also get a shot at $1 million for their efforts.
Gov. Mike DeWine has announced what is being described as a “novel incentive program” to ensure Ohioans keep getting vaccinated, protecting as many of its diverse populations against COVID-19 as possible before summer begins.
For the next five weeks, people in the state who can prove that they have been vaccinated will be eligible for a $1 million lottery-style cash prize.
Dareh Gregorian of NBC News has reported that “DeWine, a Republican, said only people who have gotten the vaccine will be eligible to win the prize, which will be paid for by federal coronavirus funds.”
In a series of tweets announcing the competition, DeWine wrote, “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.”
DeWine also specified the stipulations of the lottery, saying, “to be eligible to win, you must be at least 18 years of age or older on the day of the drawing. You must be an Ohio resident. And, you must be vaccinated before the drawing.”
While some critics of the Governor called the announcement financially irresponsible, DeWine said he disagrees.
“I know that some may say, ‘DeWine, you’re crazy! This million-dollar drawing idea of yours is a waste of money,’” DeWine wrote. “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.”
According to Gregorian, “while the cash is for Ohioans 18 and older, [DeWine] also added an incentive for younger residents — they’ll be entered into a drawing ‘for a four-year full scholarship to any of Ohio’s state colleges and universities, including full tuition, room and board.’”
DeWine’s lottery announcement coincides with news that Ohio plans to lift most pandemic health orders on June 2.
“It’s been a year. You’ve followed the protocols. You’ve done what we’ve asked. You’ve bravely fought this virus,” DeWine said.
Ohio isn’t the only state attempting to encourage and incentivize its citizens to get vaccinated through the promise of freebies, but it is certainly the most generous. In West Virginia, people between the ages of 16 and 35 who got vaccinated were offered a $100 savings bond. New York City handed out free subway MetroCards for people who got vaccinated in a subway vaccination site. And in New Jersey, Gov. Phil Murphy set up a system to give out free beer to state residents who got vaccinated throughout May.