Who Wants To Be A COVID Millionaire?
On Wednesday, Ohio's Republican Governor Mike Dewine announced that he would be giving away a million dollars a week for the next five weeks to a lucky vaccinated Ohioan, as well as five full-ride scholarships to a state school (which should be free anyway, but let's not get into that now), and five thrilling tours of the American Whistle Factory in Columbus — which of course may culminate in the eccentric owner of America's only metal whistle factory giving away said factory to a scrappy young whistle enthusiast and his terrible grandfather.
That last one I made up, but the other two are true. One million dollars just for getting a vaccine! A thing that is already a reward in and of itself for those of us who believe COVID-19 is real and would prefer not to die of it!
The pool of names for the drawing will be derived from the Ohio Secretary of State’s publicly available voter regis… https://t.co/XtyOYioPi3— Governor Mike DeWine (@Governor Mike DeWine)1620856093.0
On Twitter, DeWine said:
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.
The pool of names for the drawing will be derived from the Ohio Secretary of State's publicly available voter registration database. Further, we will make available a webpage for people to sign up for the drawings if they are not in a database we are using.
The Ohio Department of Health will be the sponsoring agency for the drawings, and the Ohio Lottery will conduct them. The money will come from existing federal Coronavirus Relief Funds.
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. We will have further, specific details tomorrow and in the days ahead.
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.
DeWine also announced that he would be lifting all public health rules re: COVID-19 on June 2. And as of yesterday, the CDC says that fully vaccinated adults can go anywhere except doctors offices and hospitals maskless (while still following local rules and business's decisions about their own properties). This would be a whole lot more exciting if we could all be sure that unvaccinated people would still be wearing theirs, but you know that's not going to happen. The Venn diagram of anti-vaxxers and anti-maskers is a circle.
There's a lot to be conflicted about with this idea.
On the one hand, we all obviously want people to get vaccinated. On the other, Ohioans certainly have a right to be upset about this use of their state's coronavirus relief fund and feel that there may be better uses for that money. Also ... there is absolutely something galling about the idea of having to bribe asshole Americans with the potential of winning a million dollars to get a free vaccine when countries like India are recording 4,000 deaths a day from COVID and can't get them.
Still, on that first hand, we really, really need people to get vaccinated. And according to a recent Morning Consult poll, bribery does work. The poll found that "57% of unvaccinated adults said a $1,000 savings bond would sway them to get a COVID-19 shot, while 43% said as much about a smaller $50 reward." Although that does suggest that there could have been a much cheaper way to do this than spending $5 million on a COVID lotto.
Perhaps it would have been a better idea, though, to pull from the state's actual lottery. The current Mega-Millions jackpot in Ohio is $430 million, and perhaps "doing a good thing that keeps people healthy" would be an even nicer way for people to gamble than to just guess at numbers. Don't ask me how that would work or if it would be legal, but it would probably feel less icky than dipping into the state's coronavirus relief funds for this.
Then again, it's probably a better and more effective use of that money than an ad campaign directed at getting people to get the vaccine or anything else meant to convince people to get the vaccine, because people usually just make fun of PSAs telling them to do a thing they don't want to do anyway. So hey, it's probably worth a shot. Or a jab.
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Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse