The push to get people vaccinated for COVID-19 has caused some states — like Alabama bringing in big gun Nick Saban — to be creative with marketing plans to get people vaccinated. Wednesday night, Ohio governor Mike DeWine decided it was time to take a blowtorch to marketing plans and announce Ohio would begin a five-week vaccinated resident lottery that will give away $1 million to one vaccinated person each week over a five-week period.
That’s right, people who are vaccinated will be entered to win $1 million. Married couples are sitting on two entries a week for five weeks. Ohio is even branding the event as the ‘Vax-a-Million.’ Odds of winning are sitting around 1 in 944,067. The typical odds to win the Powerball are around 1 in 11,688,053.52. Residents must be 18 to win.
This is insane. Ohio gov Mike DeWine is using $5 million in federal COVID funds to run a lottery for people who take the free vaccine because stopping a worldwide pandemic apparently isn't a good enough reason.
Another cost that comes from misinformation. pic.twitter.com/MaUvwRbFFY
— Josh Jordan (@NumbersMuncher) May 12, 2021
But is this bribery? Is it even legal? It’s not just the usual suspects asking the question. Even the New York Times went into overdrive to see if this can actually be done. The money will come from federal corona relief funds.
“I know that some may say, ‘DeWine, you’re crazy!’ ” DeWine said about his plan. “‘This million-dollar drawing idea of yours is a waste of money.’ But truly, the real waste at this point in the pandemic — when the vaccine is readily available to anyone who wants it — is a life lost to COVID-19.”
It wasn’t just Republicans pouncing on this news. Ohio state representative Emilia Sykes wasn’t amused by the Vax-a-Million plan.
“As elected leaders, we’re obligated to take seriously our duty to be good stewards of taxpayer dollars. Using millions of dollars in relief funds in a drawing is a grave misuse of money that could be going to respond to this ongoing crisis. Ohioans deserve better than this,” Sykes said of the plan.
Imagine that, an Ohio Democratic representative agreeing with Jim Jordan. That’s what Governor DeWine is up against right now. Take note of where you are right now as you see politicians who hate each other agreeing on a subject.
Then there’s Ohio state representative Bill Seitz (R) who is jumping on the Vax-a-Million plan. “I think his ideas of incentivizing both young and older people to take the vaccine without mandating that they do so is a great idea, and I hope I win the million dollars,” Seitz said.
How this will work:
• Ohio will pull names out of the voter registration database
• At least one vaccine dose is required to win
• If your name is pulled and you haven’t been vaccinated, the state will pull another name until they have a winner for that week
• State officials will need to see a vaccination card to verify proof of vaccination
• Winners will not be able to remain anonymous
DeWine also announced Wednesday that Ohio will lift nearly all COVID-related health orders on June 2. The only mandates remaining after that date will focus on nursing homes and assisted living facilities. The state also announced they will leave mask requirements up to businesses and school districts to decide how they will operate.