For anyone who needs a little push to get the COVID-19 vaccine, there’s plenty of incentives out there—Krispy Kreme donuts, tickets to baseball games, free weed, beer, and French fries. And now comes a big one in Ohio that might be enough to convince hordes of people to get the jab: a shot at winning a million bucks.
Gov. Mike DeWine announced Wednesday that beginning on May 26, the state will use its federal coronavirus relief funds to do a lottery drawing for people who’ve received at least one dose of the vaccine. The lottery will run every Wednesday for five weeks, DeWine said.
Not everyone thinks it’s a great idea. Ohio state Rep. Emilia Sykes, the Democratic minority leader, told the AP that the lottery was a “grave misuse of money,” while right-wing U.S. Rep Jim Jordan, who represents an Ohio district in Congress, responded to the news: “Give me a break.”
“I know that some may say, ‘DeWine, you’re crazy! This million-dollar drawing idea of yours is a waste of money,’” DeWine, a Republican, said in another tweet. “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.”
So far more than 154 million people in the U.S.—46 percent of the country—have received at least one shot of the COVID vaccine, according to the New York Times. Ohio’s vaccination rate of those who’ve received at least one dose is below the national average, but the state’s rate of fully vaccinated people is above the national average, according to the Times. More than 9 million shots have been administered so far in Ohio, which has a population of more than 11 million people.
Separately, Ohio is running a drawing for kids between the ages of 12 and 17, also each week for five weeks, for a full ride to a public university in Ohio, DeWine announced. The Food and Drug Administration authorized Pfizer’s vaccine earlier this week for use in kids between the ages of 12-15, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended Wednesday that kids get the vaccine.
The inoculations have contributed to a cratering of COVID-19 cases in recent weeks, as the fewer than 40,000 cases per day is the lowest it’s been since last September, and a fraction from the January peak of more than 300,000 cases in one day. But vaccination has slowed considerably in recent weeks from a high of nearly 3.4 million shots given per day a month ago to fewer than 2.2 million per day now.
Ohio is the first state to run a lottery, but other states and local governments have begun offering financial incentives to get people vaccinated. West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice announced last month that people under the age of 35 who get vaccinated would get a $100 savings bond, while the city of Acworth, Georgia, said in January that it would give city employees who get the vaccine $200 Walmart gift cards.