Meet the first winners of Ohio’s Vax-A-Million lottery

Updated: May. 27, 2021 at 8:44 AM EDT
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COLUMBUS, Ohio (FOX19) - The first winners of Ohio’s Vax-a-Million drawing talked about their good fortune with Gov. Mike DeWine Thursday.

22-year-old Abbigail Bugenske of Silverton won $1 million, and 14-year-old Joseph Costello of Englewood, near Dayton, will receive a four-year scholarship to a state university or college.

According to GE Aviation spokesperson Cole Massie, Bugenske is a member of GE Aviation’s Edison Engineering Development Program. It’s a full-time rotational program for college graduates.

“We’re very happy for Abbey and glad to see the State of Ohio making such a concerted effort to increase the vaccination rate through this program,” he said.

Bugenski graduated from Shaker Heights High School in 2016.

She said she moved to Cincinnati this year for her job at GE.

Bugenski said she was driving to her parent’s house when she received the call.

“I was on my way from Cincinnati to Cleveland when I got the call, which I thought was a prank call initially,” said Bugenski. “That is a Wednesday night that I’m never going to forget. I was screaming enough that my parents thought that I was crying and that’s something and when I started yelling that I want a million dollars and I was going to be a millionaire.”

Bugenske says she is still processing what happened, but definitely will not quit her mechanical engineering job.

“I love my job and the people I work with. As far as future plans - I’m probably going to invest it,” she said.

Costello says his dad kept the news a surprise until he got home. He says he’s very excited he won the scholarship.

“I don’t really know what I want to study. I know I’d like to go to Miami University or Ohio State University,” he said.

They did not know they won until their names were called Wednesday night.

While visiting Cleveland to discuss the economy Thursday, President Joe Biden commented on the lottery.

“Who would have thunk it? A million bucks for getting a vaccine. But it’s working,” he said.

Winners will be announced every Wednesday for the next month.

The final drawing will be on June 23.

Once a person is registered, they do not have to register again.

According to DeWine, so far, 2,758,470 have registered for a $1 million prize and 104,386 have registered for the scholarship.

Officials say that winners will be removed from the list to win in the following week’s drawing.

Winners will have to provide vaccination records.

They also are responsible for the taxes and will not be able to remain anonymous.

They will receive a lump sum payment from the Ohio Department of Health.

If you didn’t opt-in for the first drawing, you can still enter ahead of the other drawings.

You can enter online or by phone at 1-833-4-ASK-ODH (1-833-427-5634).

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