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Ohio $1M Vaccine Lottery Winner: "I Still Can't Believe It"

Abbey Bugenske, the winner of Ohio's first vaccine lottery drawing, was on a trip to get a used car when she found out she won $1 million. She says she hopes the lottery will encourage other people to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

Bugenske, 22, is a mechanical engineer with GE Aviation living in the Cincinnati area. She was driving to the Cleveland area, where she graduated from Shaker Heights High School, to visit her parents and try to get that used car when she got a call from Gov. Mike DeWine.

So when she eventually reached her parent's house, she came in screaming.

"I was screaming enough that my parents thought I was crying and thought that something was wrong. And when I started yelling that I won a million dollars and I was going to be a millionaire they told me to calm down and make sure that it wasn't a prank before I really started freaking out," says Bugenske. 

Bugenske says she already had the shot before the lottery was created, but hopes it encourages more people to get vaccinated. 

DeWine personally visited Joseph Costello, 14, of Englewood to let him know he had won the full-ride college scholarship.

On Thursday, DeWine announced that Costello and the four future scholarship winners can use the money to go to any college. However, the state will provide enough to cover full tuition for any Ohio public university.

The state will hold four more drawings for the "Ohio Vax-A-Million" sweepstakes. The deadline for new entrants is May 30, 11:59pm. Those who already signed up for the lottery will remain in the system for future drawings.

Copyright 2021 The Statehouse News Bureau

Andy Chow is a general assignment state government reporter who focuses on environmental, energy, agriculture, and education-related issues. He started his journalism career as an associate producer with ABC 6/FOX 28 in Columbus before becoming a producer with WBNS 10TV.