Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine on Wednesday announced a novel incentive program for people in his state to get vaccinated — a $1 million lottery.
DeWine, a Republican, said only people who've gotten the vaccine will be eligible to win the prize, which will be paid for by federal coronavirus funds.
"Two weeks from tonight on May 26th, we will announce a winner of a separate drawing for adults who have received at least their first dose of the vaccine. This announcement will occur each Wednesday for five weeks, and the winner each Wednesday will receive one million dollars,"DeWine said in a series of tweets.
"To be eligible to win, you must be at least 18 years of age or older on the day of the drawing. You must be an Ohio resident. And, you must be vaccinated before the drawing," he added.
Other states have promoted incentives for residents to get vaccinated — including West Virginia offering $100 saving bonds to people between the ages of 16 and 35, New Jersey offering free beers, and New York offering free MetroCards for anyone who gets a shot at a subway vaccination site — but Ohio would provide the biggest payout by far.
DeWine acknowledged the incentive might strike some people as a waste of money, but he said he disagreed.
"I know that some may say, 'DeWine, you’re crazy! 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," he wrote.
While the cash is for Ohioans 18 and older, he also added an incentive for younger residents — they'll be entered into a drawing "for a four-year full scholarship to any of Ohio's state colleges and universities, including full tuition, room, and board," he announced.
DeWine revealed the incentives alongside the news that he's asked the Ohio Department of Health to lift most pandemic health orders on June 2.
“It is time to end the health orders. It’s been a year. You’ve followed the protocols. You’ve done what we’ve asked. You’ve bravely fought this virus," he said in a statement.
The announcement comes as DeWine is facing the possibility of a primary challenge from former Rep. Jim Renacci, who's argued that DeWine’s stay-at-home orders and restrictions on businesses have hampered Ohio’s economic recovery.
While DeWine's early and aggressive response to the coronavirus pandemic drew bipartisan praise, the Republican-controlled Legislature limited the governor's abilities to issue public health orders in March.