First Vax-A-Million winners drawn as legislator seeks to halt lotteries

Ohio News

COLUMBUS (WCMH) – The state’s Vax-A-Million drawing has put a national spotlight on Ohio and its vaccination efforts.

On Monday, the Ohio Lottery drew the names of two lucky winners, one winning a full-ride scholarship, the other $1 million.

“At the lottery, we’ll be doing the drawing with what’s called a random number generator and that’s basically a computer program,” said Danielle Frizzi-Babb with the Ohio Lottery. “It will assign a number to each of the individual entrants and then it will give us our winner. We’ll select one winner plus up to 100 alternates.”

The Ohio Lottery and Department of Health has some work to do before revealing the winners Wednesday.

“That information will be turned over to Department of Health and then they will have to verify that the winner has had their vaccinations,” Frizzi-Babb said.

If the first name on the list is determined to be ineligible for some reason, the lottery will move to verify the next name on the list and so on until an eligible winner is selected.

Unlike other $1 million draw games, a winner is guaranteed to be selected, improving the odds for Ohioans who entered.

“A Powerball or Mega Millions, those odds are astronomical,” Frizzi-Babb said. “This drawing, you’ve have a great shot at winning. We’re excited to see how this is all going to play out and who our million dollar winners are going to be.”

But several state lawmakers are not as excited about the campaign.

House Representative Jena Powell (R-Arcanum) said she will be introducing legislation this week to stop the drawings.

“The Vax-A-Million lottery is a gross misuse of taxpayer dollars for Governor Mike DeWine,” she said. “Ohioans deserve better and they deserve us to use their tax dollars wisely and the Vax-A-Million lottery does not do that.”

On Monday, DeWine announced the counties that have seen an increase in vaccinations since the drawing was announced.

Miami County, part of Powell’s district, saw a 129% increase in vaccination rates.

“Correlation is not always causation,” Powell said. “There has been an increase, but there’s many factors that are at play. The vaccine is more widely, readily available. There’s more age groups that are able to get the vaccine. And it’s more common. There’s been a lot of talk around the nation now for a little while about the vaccine. So there’s many contributing factors to the increase in vaccines in our state.”

Powell’s bill is expected to be introduced sometime this week, not in time to stop the drawing Monday and likely after the announcement on Wednesday.

It’s unclear what would happen if that bill passes after a winner or winners have been announced.

In the meantime, at least 2.7 million Ohioans are waiting for that phone call or email telling them they’re Ohio’s newest millionaire.

The Ohio Lottery is also warning of scams related to the Vax-A-Million hotline.

The lottery wants Ohioans to remember that there only two ways to enter – the Vax-A-Million website and the ODH hotline.

On top of that, the entry form does not require your social security number, credit card, or banking information. If you see something or receive a call asking for that information, it’s a scam.

Also, be on the lookout for misspelled words and incorrect grammar.

The Ohio Lottery said if your name isn’t announced Wednesday, you’re still entered in the next four drawings. Anything asking for your information again is also a scam.

“You only have to enter one time,” Frizzi-Babb said. “One entry is all you need. Once you’re in, you don’t have to worry about going back to the website or calling a number. Just keep an eye out for those drawings that will be on your local tv station.”

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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