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22-year-old wins $1 million in Ohio’s vaccine lottery

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Ohio’s first $1 million vaccine lottery winner has been announced – Abbigail Bugenske, a 22-year-old from Shaker Heights. Governor Mike DeWine announced the first winners of the state’s Vax-a-Million lottery during a press conference on Thursday. 

“It absolutely have not processed yet. I am still digesting it — and I like to say that it feels like this is happening to a different person. I cannot believe it,” Bugenske said during the news conference. 

The 2020 graduate of Michigan State University started her master’s degree in aerospace engineering last fall. She works as a mechanical engineer for GE Aviation. “I’m definitely not quitting my job. I love it at GE, I love the people I work with,” she said. “And as for future plans, I’m probably going to invest most of it.”

Bugenske said it was a “pretty easy decision to go and get the vaccine at the first chance that I could.” Still, she thought it was a “prank call” when she found out she won the lottery. “It was a Wednesday night that I’m never going to forget,” she said.

She was driving from Cincinnati to Cleveland to look at used cars when she got the call. “I think buying a used car is still in my future,” she said. 

Ohioans 18 or older who received their first vaccine can sign up to win the Vax-a-Million lottery. Anyone 17 or under who received a vaccine also had a chance to win something – one of five, four-year full-ride college scholarships. 

The first winner of the college scholarship was eighth-grader Joseph Costello, who said he was “very excited.” His mom, Colleen Costello, said she received a call from the governor on Wednesday and thought it was a recording – before realizing it was actually DeWine. 

“I was really thankful at that moment that there was a bench nearby because I needed to sit down,” she said.

Costello said he has thought about attending Ohio State or Miami of Ohio when it’s time for college. 

The next Vax-a-Million drawing will take place next week. Since the introduction of the lottery, vaccines increased 94% for 16 to 17-year-olds, 46% for 18 to 19-year-olds and 55% for 20 to 49-year-olds, DeWine said.

Following in Ohio’s footsteps New York, Maryland and Oregon announced lottery promotions tied to receiving COVID-19 vaccines last week.



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