DeWine visits Englewood teen who wins Vax-a-Million scholarship

Gov. Mike DeWine and first lady Fran DeWine visited with Joseph Costello, center, who won the first of five full-ride scholarships May 26, 2021, as part of the Ohio Vax-a-Million lottery.
Gov. Mike DeWine and first lady Fran DeWine visited with Joseph Costello, center, who won the first of five full-ride scholarships May 26, 2021, as part of the Ohio Vax-a-Million lottery.

Suburban Cincinnati woman is winner of $1M prize.

An Englewood teen and a Silverton woman were announced Wednesday night on live television as the first winners of the Ohio Vax-a-Million campaign.

Joseph Costello is the recipient of the first of five full-ride college scholarships, and Abbigail Bugenske won the first of five $1 million prizes that go to Ohioans who have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Gov. Mike DeWine and first lady Fran DeWine visited Costello and his family, and posted a picture of them together on Wednesday night on his personal Twitter page. It was not clear when the photo was taken.

“Congrats, Joseph! You just won a full-ride college scholarship!,” the governor tweeted.

Costello just finished the eighth grade at Northmont Middle School, Northmont schools spokeswoman Jenny Wood confirmed.

“We’re very excited for him. He’s a good kid and very deserving,” she said.

More than 2.75 million adults registered for the cash prize, and nearly 105,000 youths entered the drawing for the scholarship. The Ohio Lottery drew the winners Monday in Cleveland. Ohio Department of Health staff then had time to verify vaccination status and prize eligibility.

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DeWine announced the lottery as a way to increase awareness and encourage residents to get inoculated amid falling vaccination rates,

“The vaccinations that we’ve received after we announced the Vax-a-Million have exceeded my wildest expectations,” DeWine said Monday during a press briefing. “I can’t tell you how happy I am about it.”

The scholarship Costello won, for youths 12 to 17, covers room and board, tuition and materials for four years at any state-run college, university, technical or trade school. However, winning the scholarship does not guarantee admission to any school.

Winners of the $1 million prize will be responsible for paying any taxes.

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The winners of the next drawings will be announced over the next four consecutive Wednesdays, on June 2, June 9, June 16 and June 23.

Ohio is using federal CARES Act money to fund the cash and scholarship prizes.

Here’s what else you should know about the campaign:

Who is eligible?

A person must be a U.S. citizen and permanent Ohio resident who has received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine.

The two-dose Pfizer vaccine is the only one authorized for ages 12 and older. The two-dose Moderna and one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccines are authorized for ages 18 and older.

Ohioans ages 12-17 are eligible for the college scholarship and those 18 and older are eligible for $1 million.

Entrants must sign up for the drawings at https://www.ohiovaxamillion.com/.

Entrants do not need to have been vaccinated in Ohio to be eligible, however, the ODH will ask for proof of vaccination.

To get a coronavirus vaccine, visit https://gettheshot.coronavirus.ohio.gov/ to make an appointment. Many vaccine providers are accepting walk-ins and no longer require an appointment.

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How do you sign up?

To sign up for the drawings, visit https://ohiovaxamillion.com/index.html and select “Adult Registration” for the $1 million drawing or “12-17 Year Old Registration” for the college scholarship drawing.

Another way to register is to call the Ohio Department of Health at 1-833-4-ASK-ODH between 9 a.m. and 8 p.m.

To be eligible to win, entrants must be a permanent Ohio resident and U.S. citizen with who has received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine the Sunday prior to the drawing date. Participants must be 12 or older.

Entrants must sign up the day before the drawing to be considered for that drawing.

Eligible residents can only enter once. If you are not selected, your entry will automatically carry over to the next drawing.

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When is the next drawing?

The next drawing is scheduled for Memorial Day, May 31. The entry period for the next drawing ends at 11:59 p.m. May 30.

The Ohio Lottery is using a random number generator, which is a computer that randomly picks a winner and alternates for each drawing.

The public isn’t able to view the drawings, but a representative from the Ohio Auditor’s Office will be present.

Before each drawing, the state will remove any duplicate entries.

Once the random number generator selects a winning number, it’s entered into the database to reveal the winner.

The lottery draw staff member and representative from the auditor’s office both sign off on the drawing.

If a winner isn’t eligible or turns down the prize, the state will move on to the first alternate and so on until a winner is found.

The final three drawings are scheduled for June 7, June 14 and June 21.

Staff Writer Kristen Spicker contributed to this report.

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