Meet the final Vax-a-Million winners

Published: Jun. 23, 2021 at 10:20 AM EDT|Updated: Jun. 24, 2021 at 9:35 AM EDT
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CINCINNATI (WXIX) - The fifth and final Vax-a-Million winner is from Greater Cincinnati.

Esperanza Diaz from Butler County won the fifth and final $1 million prize.

Diaz says she knew something was up when a man from Gov. Mike DeWine’s office showed up at her front door, with the Governor on FaceTime.

“I recognize your face and I said, ‘Oh my,’ I said to myself, ‘Oh my goodness, I think I’m the winner,’” recalled Diaz.

Diaz is the second prize winner to reside in Greater Cincinnati at the time of the drawing. Abbigail Bugenske, 22, of Silverton, won the first drawing.

Diaz told the governor she was a little hesitant early on to get the shots because of food allergies she has, but now recommends people get it.

“I got the Pfizer vaccine, and I didn’t have any side effects, I was completely OK,” said Diaz. I would recommend it to everyone. I think it can save a lot of lives.”

The other $1 million winners are from Toledo, Richwood, and Findlay.

DeWine says Esperanza is a dental assistant.

A neighbor of hers spoke to FOX19 NOW on Wednesday night after the drawing.

“I thought it was wonderful,” Janice Mehallic said. “Especially somebody that we know. She deserves it, really. She’s such a nice person.”

When the governor asked Diaz how she was going to spend the money, she said she would pay some bills and help out family members.

[Meet the Week 1, Week 2, Week 3, and Week 4 winners of the Vax-a-Million drawings.]

Sydney Daum from Brecksville in Cuyahoga County won the fifth student full-ride scholarship including four years tuition, books, and room and board at an Ohio public university or college.

“We were always planning to get her vaccinated, but we were going to wait later in the summer to have her fully vaccinated by the time school started,” said Jennifer Daum, Sydney’s mother. “When (Governor DeWine) announced Vax-a-Million we thought this would be a good time to do it now, and we did, and we can’t believe it paid off.”

Some 3,469,542 Ohioans entered the drawing to win $1 million prize, and 154,889 Ohioans age 12-17 entered to the drawing for a college scholarship, according to the Ohio Department of Health.

“The Vax-a-Million promotion was a resounding success for Ohio, with major increases in vaccinations in the first two weeks of the promotion,” Gov. DeWine said. “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.”

DoorDash, Kroger, and Giant Eagle will offer a new vaccine incentive program from Friday, June 25 through Wednesday, June 30. Ohioans vaccinated at the select grocery stores located below will receive a $25 DoorDash gift card.

  • Kroger, 7132 Hamilton Ave., Cincinnati
  • Kroger, 8421 Winton Rd., Cincinnati
  • Kroger, 1 W Corry St., Cincinnati
  • Kroger, 6165 Glenway Ave., Cincinnati
  • Kroger, 3491 Northbend Rd., Cincinnati
  • Kroger, 2310 Ferguson Rd., Cincinnati

>> Ohio ends incentive lottery with mixed vaccination results

DeWine first announced the Vax-a-Million program in May as an incentive to help boost COVID-19 vaccination numbers.

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 May 13, the day following Governor DeWine’s announcement of Ohio Vax-a-Million during a statewide address.

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