Abbigail Bugenske, right, is the first of five winners of Ohio’s $1million lottery for people who got the coronavirus vaccine (Pictures: AP)
A 22-year-old recent college graduate was driving to her parents’ house when Ohio’s governor called her about the state’s $1million coronavirus vaccine lottery. Abbigail Bugenske had almost forgotten that she entered the drawing to become a millionaire for getting the Covid-19 jab – so she could hardly believe she won.
‘I thought it was a prank call initially,’ said Bugenske about hearing from Governor Mike DeWine on Wednesday night.
Her phone began blowing up with messages as her friends heard she won the first of several drawings for vaccinated Ohioans, The New York Times reported on Thursday.
‘I was screaming enough that my parents thought that I was crying and that something was wrong,’ Bugenske said about walking into their home. ‘I started yelling that I won a million dollars and I was going to be a millionaire.’
Bugenske got vaccinated as soon as her age group became eligible, which was before Ohio announced that five residents would be randomly selected and given $1million for getting at least one shot. She put her name in for the lottery afterward.
More than 2.7million Ohioans entered the lottery and the remaining four drawings will happen in the coming weeks. The state also offered a full college scholarship to residents 12 to 17 years old.
Despite becoming Ohio’s next millionaire, Bugenske said she does not plan to quit her job. She intends to donate some of the jackpot and invest the rest. And she still plans to look for a used car.
Ohio’s vaccine lottery drew praise as well as scrutiny, with some critics saying that it would not move the needle on convincing those who do not want to get inoculated to do so. Other states have since followed suit, including California which announced on Thursday that two vaccinated residents would be randomly chosen for $1.5million prizes. Earlier this month, New York announced free lottery scratch off tickets for a $5million jackpot for people getting the jab at certain state sites.
Bugenske said she encourages ‘anyone to get the vaccine’.
‘If winning a million dollars isn’t incentive enough,’ she said, ‘I don’t really know what would be.’
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