Ohio’s Vax-A-Million lottery sign-ups now open; all entrants must opt-in

Ohioans interested in a chance at winning $1 million or a full scholarship at public state university or college must opt in to be eligible to win and can start registering today.

Previously, the state was going to use the Ohio voter registration rolls for the $1 million vaccination incentive drawings.

To sign up, people can visit https://www.ohiovaxamillion.com/ anytime or call 1-833-4-ASK-ODH between 9 a.m. and 8 p.m. starting Tuesday, May 18.

The drawing will last for five weeks, with one $1 million prize per week for Ohioans aged 18 and up, and a four-year, full-ride scholarship to any Ohio state college or university, including room and board, tuition and books for Ohioans aged 12-17.

To be eligible for the drawings, entrants must be an Ohio resident and have received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine.

It does not matter if an entrant received the vaccine in December or May, or in between, ODH Director Stephanie McCloud said, they are all eligible. People who received the vaccine out of state are also eligible, as long as they are a permanent Ohio resident. Entrants do not have to be a registered voter.

Ohioans ages 12-17 can opt in without their parent, but a parent or guardian must verify their information if they win.

People who are incarcerated, have a felony conviction or are an employee of the Ohio Lottery Commission, Ohio Department of Health, Ohio Governor’s Office or a blood relative or spouse of any such employee are not eligible to win.

Entrants must register by the end of the Sunday before the drawing to be eligible. Once a person signs up for the drawing, they will be eligible for all drawings.

The first drawings will take place on Monday, May 24, and the winners will be announced Wednesday, May 26, at 7:29 p.m. on TV and at www.ohiovaxamillion.com.

The two-day delay in announcing the winner will allow the Ohio Department of Health to verify winners, McCloud said.

By opting in, entrants are authorizing the state health department to verify their vaccination record. Winners may be asked to provide their COVID vaccination card, McCloud added.

The state switched to an opt-in system to decrease the time spent verifying winners. By signing up, entrants will provide contact information that may be optional on voter rolls. It also will decrease the chances of the state drawing the name of someone who is ineligible for the prize, McCloud said.

Unlike with the Ohio Lottery, winners will not be able to remain anonymous.

Winners of the $1 million drawing will be held responsible for any taxes on the prize, McCloud said.

The winners of the college scholarships will be able to select which Ohio public university they attend. However, winning the scholarship does not guarantee admission to the college.

During the drawings, a computer generator will select a winning number. Alternates will also be selected in case the winner is not eligible, Pat McDonald, director of the Ohio Lottery, said. People will not be able to view the actual drawing, but the Ohio State Auditor’s Office will be present for additional transparency.

Once a person wins a prize, they will be taken out of the running for the following weeks, McCloud added. Alternates will be placed back into the pool.

The goal of the drawings is to increase interest in uptake in the vaccine, McCloud said. In recent weeks Ohio has seen a decrease in the number of people getting vaccinated.

By creating a drawing, people who were on the fence or may have been waiting to get vaccinated are now reaching out to their healthcare provider for more information and are researching the vaccines.

“This is something that is just a bold initiative to raise awareness,” McCloud said.

Gov. Mike DeWine said the state is already seeing signs that the lottery and recent expansion of the vaccine to 12- to 15-year-olds could be encouraging more people to get vaccinated.

“We’re getting anecdotal reports back from health departments that we’re seeing an increase,” he said. “Last Friday, May 14, was the highest day of shots administered in the last three weeks.”

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