Ohio is having a 'vaccine lottery' giving $1 million prizes to 5 people who simply do the right thing

In an attempt to get more residents to get vaccinated against COVID-19, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine has announced a truly unexpected incentive program.

"Two weeks from tonight on May 26th," DeWine wrote on Twitter yesterday, "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."

That's right. Five people in Ohio who have received at least their first vaccine dose will receive $1 million.


DeWine explained that the names will be drawn from Ohio's voter registration base, and people can also sign up for the drawings on a website to be made available soon. The drawings will be conducted by the Ohio Lottery.

The governor also noted that the $5 million would come from federal Coronavirus Relief Funds that the state has on hand.

A few rules apply: You have to be 18 years or older, an Ohio resident, and have gotten your first vaccine dose before the drawing.

"I know that some may say, 'DeWine, you're crazy! This million-dollar drawing idea of yours is a waste of money,'" the governor wrote. "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."

The reactions to the news were predictably all over the place. Some people are hardcore anti-vaccination and won't be swayed by such an incentive, but for those on the fence or who just haven't gotten around to making an appointment, perhaps the notion of winning a million dollars will push them to do it. If nothing else, it's a pretty sweet reward for those who are participating in this important public health measure to end the pandemic.

Some people are questioning whether or not a lottery with big prizes for a handful of people is really the most efficient use of COVID relief funds. Certainly it seems like it could be more effective than putting up posters or making public service announcements, but is it better than using the money to provide easier access to communities where access is more limited? Time will tell.

Some have pointed out that the odds of winning this lottery are much better than the odds of winning the normal state lottery, without even having to buy a lottery ticket. Those odds might incentivize people to get to the clinic—which is a little ironic considering the folks who are afraid to get vaccinated but aren't afraid of COVID may not have the best understanding of odds in the first place.


It also might help that the push is coming from Ohio's GOP governor, since the largest demographic of vaccine hesitancy is particularly high among people with conservative leanings. The fact that a conservative politician is willing to spend money to spend taxpayer funds to incentivize getting vaccinated sends a message about how important it is.

Polling backs up the idea as well. A survey from Morning Consult found that 3 out of 5 unvaccinated adults say a big financial incentive would sway them to get the COVID-19 shot. Hard to say if a chance of a big payout would do the same, but considering people's penchant for playing the lottery, it's worth a shot.

We'll see if the gamble pays off in the coming weeks, but kudos to Ohio leadership for doing something creative to try to increase vaccination rates. The more people we get immunized, the closer we will be to ending the pandemic and returning to some semblance of normalcy.

True

When Sue Hoppin was in college, she met the man she was going to marry. "I was attending the University of Denver, and he was at the Air Force Academy," she says. "My dad had also attended the University of Denver and warned me not to date those flyboys from the Springs."

"He didn't say anything about marrying one of them," she says. And so began her life as a military spouse.

The life brings some real advantages, like opportunities to live abroad — her family got to live all around the US, Japan, and Germany — but it also comes with some downsides, like having to put your spouse's career over your own goals.

"Though we choose to marry someone in the military, we had career goals before we got married, and those didn't just disappear."

Career aspirations become more difficult to achieve, and progress comes with lots of starts and stops. After experiencing these unique challenges firsthand, Sue founded an organization to help other military spouses in similar situations.

Sue had gotten a degree in international relations because she wanted to pursue a career in diplomacy, but for fourteen years she wasn't able to make any headway — not until they moved back to the DC area. "Eighteen months later, many rejections later, it became apparent that this was going to be more challenging than I could ever imagine," she says.

Eighteen months is halfway through a typical assignment, and by then, most spouses are looking for their next assignment. "If I couldn't find a job in my own 'hometown' with multiple degrees and a great network, this didn't bode well for other military spouses," she says.

She's not wrong. Military spouses spend most of their lives moving with their partners, which means they're often far from family and other support networks. When they do find a job, they often make less than their civilian counterparts — and they're more likely to experience underemployment or unemployment. In fact, on some deployments, spouses are not even allowed to work.

Before the pandemic, military spouse unemployment was 22%. Since the pandemic, it's expected to rise to 35%.

Sue eventually found a job working at a military-focused nonprofit, and it helped her get the experience she needed to create her own dedicated military spouse program. She wrote a book and started saving up enough money to start the National Military Spouse Network (NMSN), which she founded in 2010 as the first organization of its kind.

"I founded the NMSN to help professional military spouses develop flexible careers they could perform from any location."

"Over the years, the program has expanded to include a free digital magazine, professional development events, drafting annual White Papers and organizing national and local advocacy to address the issues of most concern to the professional military spouse community," she says.

Not only was NMSN's mission important to Sue on a personal level she also saw it as part of something bigger than herself.

"Gone are the days when families can thrive on one salary. Like everyone else, most military families rely on two salaries to make ends meet. If a military spouse wants or needs to work, they should be able to," she says.

"When less than one percent of our population serves in the military," she continues, "we need to be able to not only recruit the best and the brightest but also retain them."

"We lose out as a nation when service members leave the force because their spouse is unable to find employment. We see it as a national security issue."

"The NMSN team has worked tirelessly to jumpstart the discussion and keep the challenges affecting military spouses top of mind. We have elevated the conversation to Congress and the White House," she continues. "I'm so proud of the fact that corporations, the government, and the general public are increasingly interested in the issues affecting military spouses and recognizing the employment roadblocks they unfairly have faced."

"We have collectively made other people care, and in doing so, we elevated the issues of military spouse unemployment to a national and global level," she adds. "In the process, we've also empowered military spouses to advocate for themselves and our community so that military spouse employment issues can continue to remain at the forefront."

Not only has NMSN become a sought-after leader in the military spouse employment space, but Sue has also seen the career she dreamed of materializing for herself. She was recently invited to participate in the public re-launch of Joining Forces, a White House initiative supporting military and veteran families, with First Lady Dr. Jill Biden.

She has also had two of her recommendations for practical solutions introduced into legislation just this year. She was the first in the Air Force community to show leadership the power of social media to reach both their airmen and their military families.

That is why Sue is one of Tory Burch's "Empowered Women" this year. The $5,000 donation will be going to The Madeira School, a school that Sue herself attended when she was in high school because, she says, "the lessons I learned there as a student pretty much set the tone for my personal and professional life. It's so meaningful to know that the donation will go towards making a Madeira education more accessible to those who may not otherwise be able to afford it and providing them with a life-changing opportunity."

Most military children will move one to three times during high school so having a continuous four-year experience at one high school can be an important gift. After traveling for much of her formative years, Sue attended Madeira and found herself "in an environment that fostered confidence and empowerment. As young women, we were expected to have a voice and advocate not just for ourselves, but for those around us."

To learn more about Tory Burch and Upworthy's Empowered Women program visit https://www.toryburch.com/empoweredwomen/. Nominate an inspiring woman in your community today!

Screenshots via @castrowas95/Twitter

In the Pacific Northwest, orca sightings are a fairly common occurrence. Still, tourists and locals alike marvel when a pod of "sea pandas" swim by, whipping out their phones to capture some of nature's most beautiful and intelligent creatures in their natural habitat.

While orcas aren't a threat to humans, there's a reason they're called "killer whales." To their prey, which includes just about everything that swims except humans, they are terrifying apex predators who hunt in packs and will even coordinate to attack whales several times their own size.

So if you're a human alone on a little platform boat, and a sea lion that a group of orcas was eyeing for lunch jumps onto your boat, you might feel a little wary. Especially when those orcas don't just swim on by, but surround you head-on.

Watch exactly that scenario play out (language warning, if you've got wee ones you don't want f-bombed):

Keep Reading Show less