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Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine holds press conference with final Vax-a-Million winners

The million-dollar winner and the scholarship winner and her family all spoke to the media.

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine held a press conference on Thursday morning with the final winners of the state's Vax-a-Million lottery.

RELATED: More coronavirus coverage from WKYC

Esperanza Diaz of Cincinnati won the million-dollar prize on Wednesday, while Sydney Daum of Brecksville took home the full-ride scholarship, including four years tuition, books, and room and board at an Ohio public university or college. Wednesday marked the fifth and final Vax-a-Million drawing, which was eligible to those in the state that have received the coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine.

“Of course, it was super exciting. I’m excited! I couldn’t sleep last night!” said Diaz, about finding out she was the million-dollar winner. 

Diaz, a dental assistant in the Cincinnati area, said she got her vaccination fairly early on, after some initial hesitation. She said she has food allergies, so she was concerned she may have a reaction to the COVID vaccine. But in the end, she said her concern over actually getting COVID outweighed any possible risk.

Diaz says, she has plans for her winnings.

“Pay bills, help my family. I’m still trying to get a grasp of this. I just don’t know! I’m sure I will have plenty to spend!" she said.

“The Vax-a-Million promotion was a resounding success for Ohio, with major increases in vaccinations in the first two weeks of the promotion,” said Governor Mike DeWine in a statement. “The even better news is we have more Ohioans protected from COVID through the power of the vaccine. I continue to urge Ohioans to get vaccinated to protect themselves and their loved ones from this deadly virus.”

Sydney Daum and her parents spoke with the media and Gov. DeWine Thursday morning. They said they are excited about winning, and always planned on getting Sydney vaccinated.

“We were always planning to get her vaccinated but we were going to wait until later in the summer,” said Jennifer Daum. The family then decided to do it earlier when the contest was announced.

Daum is a student at Brecksville-Broadview Heights Middle School. She says she enjoys synchronized swimming at her local rec center. Her family told the governor that she's always planned to go to college, and this will make it easier for her family to pay. Sydney is not sure yet where she wants to attend.

The entire Daum family said they didn't have any side effects from their vaccinations and they urge all Ohioans to get vaccinated.

DeWine first announced the Vax-a-Million program in May, allowing anyone who had received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine to sign up. More than 5.5 million Ohioans have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, with more than 565,000 Ohioans beginning the vaccination process since the day after DeWine’s announcement of the Vax-a-Million.

The effort was designed as an incentive to help boost declining coronavirus vaccination numbers, and while it did work in the initial days and weeks, those statistics have since tapered off again.

Wednesday's winners were selected in the drawing conducted by the Ohio Lottery and overseen by the Ohio Auditor of State on Monday, June 21, 2021.

According to the state, 3,469,542 Ohioans entered the drawing to win $1 million prize, and 154,889 Ohioans age 12 to 17 entered to the drawing for a college scholarship. The number of entries in both groups increased from the previous week with 41,028 additional adult entries and 4,702 additional student entries.

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