Vax-a-Million winners join DeWine to speak about their 'whirlwind' win

Silverton woman won $1M; Dayton teen won full ride scholarship
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Posted at 10:02 AM, May 27, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-27 12:21:09-04

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Speaking during a press conference with Gov. Mike DeWine, the two winners of Ohio's first Vax-a-Million drawing discussed their "whirlwind" win Thursday.

Abbey Bugenske, 22 of Silverton, was announced as the $1 million prize winner Wednesday night, and 14-year-old Joseph Costello, of Dayton, won a four-year full ride scholarship to any Ohio state college or university.

MORE: Silverton woman, Dayton teen first Vax-a-Million winners

Bugenske, who moved to the Cincinnati area earlier this year, said she got her COVID-19 vaccine the first week she was eligible, a decision she made to protect her friends and relatives.

She described the hours since she learned she won the $1 million prize as a “whirlwind.”

“I think it was a great idea,” she said of the vaccine lottery. “Just hearing the numbers of how many people signed up just because of this Vax-A-Million idea, it’s clearly working, and I think that’s great.”

Costello said he too was surprised to learn he won a Vax-a-Million scholarship prize.

"My dad was driving me home from youth group, and he didn't want to tell me so he kept it as a surprise when I got home," he said. "People from the governor's office I guess told me that I had won the lottery scholarship."

While Joseph still has ample time to decide his field of study, he mentioned his interest in attending Miami University or the Ohio State University using his scholarship.

Both of his parents were vaccinated in April, and they said their goal was to get their children immunized by the end of May. They ended up pulling the date forward to make the deadline for the lottery.

"I was really thankful at that moment that there was a bench nearby because I needed to sit down and ground myself," said Joseph's mother, Colleen, of the moment she learned about her son's big win.

Bugenske, who works at GE Aviation and is pursuing a master's degree in aerospace engineering, urged all Ohioans to get their COVID-19 vaccine.

"I would encourage anyone to get the vaccine," Bugenske said. "If $1 million isn’t incentive enough, I don’t know what would be."

Four drawings are left, and the next drawing will take place Monday, May 31. Winners will be announced Wednesday, June 2 at 7:29 p.m.

Interested? If you've received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine, you can enter your own name at or by calling 1-833-427-5634.