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Who won Vax-a-million: Ohio’s first COVID vaccine lottery winners



COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio’s first Vax-a-million COVID vaccine lottery winners will be formally introduced during a 10 a.m. press conference with Governor Mike DeWine today. We will stream the press conference live inside this story, which you can also watch on our Facebook or YouTube pages.

“I was completely surprised when I got the call,” said 22-year-old Abbigail Bugenske of Silverton in Hamilton County after winning $1 million. “I still can’t believe it. It was a crazy night.”

Bugenske said she can sum up the entire experience with one word: Whirlwind.

“It absolutely has not processed yet,” she said. “I’m still digesting it, and I like to say that it feels like this is happening to a different person. I cannot believe it.”

RELATED: ENTER NOW | Ohio’s COVID vaccine lottery registration: How to enter the $1 million Vax-a-Million drawings

She also explained how her parents reacted to the news.

“I was screaming enough that my parents thought that I was crying and that something was wrong. When I started yelling that I won a million dollars and that I was going to be a millionaire, they told me to calm down and make sure it wasn’t a prank before I really started freaking out.”

So what is her plan for the $1 million? She doesn’t really have a plan yet.

“I haven’t thought a ton about it. I know I will be donating to some charities, but I don’t really know the specifics yet. Further than that, I have not really thought it through. I did come up to Cleveland from Cincinnati to look at used car. I think buying a used car is still in my future, so that’s about as far as I’ve gotten.”

Bugenske said she was vaccinated before the Vax-a-Million contest was even announced.

8th grader Joseph Costello, the first winner of the Vax-a-Million drawing for children ages 12-17, will also appear in the press conference to talk about winning a full-ride college scholarship.

RELATED: Shaker Heights native is first winner of Ohio’s $1 million Vax-a-Million lottery

Joseph, of Englewood in Montgomery County, was featured during the 9 a.m. hour of NBC’s Today on Thursday morning.

“I was very happy about it and surprised,” he said. “Ecstatic.”

Although he still has plenty of time to make his decision on which college to attend, Joseph told Today he’s currently considering Miami University or Ohio State.

His mom said they were planning to get all of their children vaccinated, but the contest “accelerated their decision.”

Joseph also had a visit from Gov. DeWine himself. He shared this picture on Twitter to congratulate the young winner:

Both winners were revealed in the first Vax-a-Million drawing Wednesday night. There will be four more winners in each contest each Wednesday now through June 23.


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