In his Richwood living room, Mark Cline, left, reacts to the official announcement of his Vax-a-Million win Wednesday while Gov. Mike DeWine and First Lady Fran DeWine look on. (Photo submitted)
By Mac Cordell and Kayleen Petrovia
Named as weekly winner in Vax-a-Million campaign
A local man is a million dollars richer this morning.
“It’s a wonderful morning,” Mark Cline, of Richwood, said this morning in an interview with the Journal-Tribune.
Cline was announced as Ohio’s third Vax-a-Million drawing winner Wednesday evening.
Ohio Governor Mike DeWine posted the announcement on his Twitter page. DeWine and his wife actually watched the live television announcement with Cline at his home.
“Congratulations, Mark!” DeWine posted. “You just won a million dollars! Thanks for getting vaccinated at the Union County Fairgrounds!”
Cline said his morning has been busy with media interviews and preparing for a statewide press conference to be held today.
He said DeWine came to his home shortly before the official announcement and gave him the news personally.
Cline said he heard his dog start to bark and his wife, Cheryl, checked the video doorbell. She told him there were vehicles and men in suits in the driveway. Cline went to the door to talk with them, and that’s when the governor told him he won.
Cline told reporters he is retired so doesn’t need much money. He said he would likely use the money to help his family pay for an already planned beach vacation. He also said he was inspired by the state’s scholarship giveaway for vaccinated students and wants to, “put some money toward scholarships for kids.”
“There are only two more drawings left, so I urge Ohioans to get the shot and then enter for a shot to win a million dollars or, for those aged 12-17 a chance to a four-year, full-ride scholarship including room, board, tuition and books at an Ohio public college or university,” DeWine said in a statement Wednesday night.
Cline is also urging others to get the COVID-19 shot.
“Get vaccinated, get registered if you want to win,” he told reporters Wednesday evening.
Cline told reporters he took the vaccination as soon as he was eligible, weeks before the Vax-a-Million lottery was introduced. He also said he hopes to see vaccination numbers rise across Ohio, telling reporters, ‘it was no big deal — two little pinches and it was done.”
Though the Vax-a-Million program was widely debated, local officials said it apparently affected local vaccine uptake.
In the week following the governor’s announcement of Vax-a-Million, Union County Health Commissioner Jason Orcena said “we saw a surge” in residents getting the shot.
The health department planned to administer 40 vaccines May 13, the day after DeWine announced the $1 million lottery, but actually gave 120 shots. Likewise, the vaccinations jumped to 260 the next Tuesday, compared to only 120-140 planned.
Following a spike in mid-May, daily vaccination numbers have again slumped in Union County, according to data from the Ohio Department of Health.
The local trends mirror statewide data, as well.
According to the Ohio Department of Health (ODH), eligible age groups saw a sizeable increase in vaccinations immediately following DeWine’s announcement.
From May 14 through May 19, compared to the week prior, vaccinations increased 94% among 16- and 17-year-olds, 46% among those 18- and 19-years-old and 55% among those between 20- and 49-years-old.
ODH representatives said Monday that 3,362,203 adults entered this week’s for $1 million drawing, and 143,604 Ohioans age 12 to 17 entered in the drawing for a college scholarship.
Officials said that is an increase of 136,414 adult entries and 10,701 scholarship entries from last week.
Cline joins other new millionaires Abbigail Bugenske, of Silverton, who won the first drawing, and Jonathan Carlyle, of Toledo, who won the second drawing, both winning $1 million.
While in Richwood, DeWine called Sara Afaneh, of Sheffield Lake in Lorain County, to tell her she has won this week’s scholarship.
“Congratulations, Sara – our Vax-a-Million scholarship winner!” the governor posted. “Thanks for getting vaccinated!”
To win, entrants must register by Sunday evening. Participants only need to enter once as the registration is good for all the drawings. Winning names are drawn each Monday.
The Ohio Lottery Commission uses a random number generator to draw a winner and up to 100 alternates. The names are turned over to the Department of Health to verify vaccination status. If the winner does not meet the eligibility requirements, the next name on the list is checked until a winner is verified.
All Ohio residents who have had at least one Pfizer, Moderna or Johnson & Johnson shot are urged to register at www.ohiovaxamillion.com or by calling 1-833-4-ASK-ODH (1-833-427-5634).
Those who are interested in receiving the vaccine locally can still do so.
The Union County Health Department is hosting COVID-19 vaccination clinics from 2-7 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays at their offices, 940 London Avenue. Walk-ins are welcome, but appointments can be made at www.uchdclinic.org.
Union County is currently outpacing the statewide level of vaccinations.
Among Union County residents, 49.07% have received at least one shot, while 46.28% of all Ohioans have started the vaccine.