COLUMBUS, Ohio — Editor's note: Video in the player above was originally published on May 13, 2021.
What would you do with $1 million? Five lucky people will soon find out as Ohio launches its "Vax-a-Million" contest, which is a lottery-style incentive for getting a COVID-19 vaccine.
HOW TO ENTER
A few days ahead of the first drawing, state officials revealed a "notable" update to the way the $1 million drawings will be held. Instead of using voter rolls, which was previously announced, all Ohioans who want to be considered for the $1 million prize MUST enter the contest in one of the following ways:
- Enter online by visiting www.OhioVaxAMillion.com.
- Call the Ohio Department of Health call center at 1-833-4-ASK-ODH (1-833-427-5634). The call center is open seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.
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You only need to enter once to be considered for all five drawings. Duplicate entries will be removed.
The deadline to enter for the first drawing was Sunday, May 23. If you missed the first deadline, you can still register at any time to be considered for the future drawings. The cutoff for each week, however, is the Sunday prior to the scheduled drawing.
NOTE: Scroll down to the bottom of this story to review a document featuring the contest's complete rules.
WHAT ABOUT THE FREE COLLEGE CONTEST FOR OHIOANS AGES 12-17?
Vax-a-Million also includes a weekly drawing for those ages 12-17 who can win a four-year, full-ride scholarship with room and board, tuition and books to any Ohio state college or university. This contest is also opt-in only by using the same methods listed above.
WHEN ARE THE DRAWINGS?
Starting May 26, the $1 million winners will be revealed every Wednesday night at 7:29 p.m. during the Ohio Lottery's traditional drawing. The drawings will take place on the following dates:
WKYC.com will post the winning names each week, so be sure to check our site to see if you're one of the lucky winners.
AM I ELIGIBLE?
The $1 million contest is open to all Ohio residents ages 18 and older -- regardless of where they were vaccinated. So if you are a permanent Ohio resident and received your vaccine in Florida, you ARE eligible to enter the contest. To win the $1 million you must prove you've received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. Here's the full list of eligibility requirements:
- Must be a living citizen of the United States and a permanent resident of the state of Ohio.
- Must be at least 12 years of age for the college contest. Must be at least 18 for the $1 million contest.
- Must not be incarcerated (in prison or jail) for a felony conviction under the laws of this state, another state or the United States.
- Must not be an employee or officer of the Ohio Lottery Commission, the Ohio Department of Health or the Ohio Governor's Office, or any blood relative or spouse of such an employee or officer living as a member of the employee or officer's household.
- Must have received at least the first COVID-19 vaccination if receiving the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine or one dose if receiving the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, prior to the drawing date.
"By submitting an entry for Vax-a-Million, you agree to allow the Ohio Department of Health to access your vaccination records to verify that you have received a vaccination," state officials said. "You may also be asked to provide your vaccination card for verification."
WHAT IF I WIN?
You will be contacted by state officials after your name is announced. The $1 million prize will be paid out as a lump sum. Winning names will be announced publicly -- but since it's an opt-in contest only, those concerned about privacy are not required to enter.
"Vaccination records will be verified for winners," state officials said.
All winners will also be responsible to pay any taxes associated with the prize.
HOW WILL THE DRAWINGS WORK?
Each person who enters will be assigned a unique number. A computer will then randomly pick one of those numbers as the winner, according to Pat McDonald, who is the Ohio Lottery's director.
“We will select one winner, and we will have alternates," McDonald explained. "As we submit those names to the Department of Health, they will go and review all of the eligibility and ensure the individual is vaccinated.”
WHY DO I HAVE TO REGISTER?
Stephanie McCloud, Director of the Ohio Department of Health, said using the opt-in method gives ODH the ability to verify the eligibility and vaccination of participants more quickly.
"In the opt-in, we’re asking participants to provide contact information that for the Secretary of State may be optional for voter registration and they may not have provided it," she said. "That could slow down our ability to locate them, and obviously we want to move this as quickly as we can. We want to be able to contact and verify them within that 48 hours."
IS THIS CONTEST BRIBERY TO GET VACCINATED?
Some have questioned this incentive as a method of bribery to get more people vaccinated. McCloud, however, disagrees.
"We’re not paying people," she said. "You are not guaranteed to win anything. We are not meeting you at the vaccine site, slipping you a $20 or a C-note to get the vaccine."
She added that it's a "bold initiative" to raise vaccine awareness.
WHERE IS THE MONEY COMING FROM?
"The Ohio Department of Health is using federally funded Coronavirus Relief Funds to fund this innovative, public outreach campaign and initiative," according to a press release from ODH. "The Ohio Department of Health is using a portion of its Coronavirus Relief Funds to fund this innovative public outreach campaign and initiative. The U.S. Treasury, under the direction of Presidents Trump and Biden, have authorized funds for broad COVID-19 response purposes. Ohio is using a portion of its unspent funds to share information about the availability and efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines, and to encourage additional Ohioans to become vaccinated to stop the disease and boost our public health and continued economic recovery."
The update to Ohio's vaccination lottery was revealed during a Monday morning press conference, which we streamed live in the player below:
COMPLETE VAX-A-MILLION OFFICIAL CONTEST RULES:
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS FOR OHIO'S VAX-A-MILLION: