Jonathan Carlyle had just missed a call Wednesday evening while wrapping up a long shift as an Amazon delivery driver. When he saw that the call was from Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, he had an idea what it was about — he won $1 million.
“I listened to the voicemail and I pretty much almost lost it inside the van,” the Toledo resident said during a press briefing with DeWine on Thursday. “I was overcome. Nothing like this ever happened to me.”
Carlyle is the second person to win $1 million in Ohio’s COVID-19 vaccine lottery, and one of more than 3.2 million Ohioans who have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine to enter the drawing. Three more drawings will be held weekly, with $5 million in total given out to help boost vaccination rates in the state.
Carlyle said he wanted to get the vaccine, he just hadn’t found the time yet. His sister was also on him to get it after her father-in-law passed away from COVID-19, he said. Two days after DeWine announced the lottery last month, he went out and got the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, he said.
“As soon as I heard that, I was like, ‘yes, I need to go do this now,'” he said.
With a 5-month-old baby at home, Carlyle said the money will be a “good foundation” for his family and help take off some pressure to “help raise him right.”
“I could tell you I did not sleep very much last night,” Carlyle said Thursday. “I was dreaming a lot about the future. I know that me and my family, we want to find our forever, permanent home, hopefully sometime in the near future. Beyond that, I just want to have somebody help me make this last.”
Carlyle wasn’t the only big winner Wednesday. Zoie Vincent, of Mayfield Village, is the second student in the lottery to win a full scholarship, including tuition for four years, books and room and board, at an Ohio public university or college. Five scholarships will ultimately be awarded.
Nearly 133,000 Ohioans ages 12 to 17 entered the scholarship drawing. Vincent, a senior at Mayfield High School, plans to study pre-med and go to medical school.
“I felt like a weight off my shoulders,” Vincent said during the press briefing of finding out she won. “I could really see my career ahead of me, instead of seeing a time of me paying off my debt.”
“It was a big relief in that sense,” said Vincent, who is interested in Case Western Reserve University and Ohio State University, among others.
Vincent said she personally has had COVID-19, which encouraged her to get the vaccine.
“I feel like it was honestly the most sick I’ve ever been,” she said. “If I can somehow guarantee that I’ll never feel this way again, or my family won’t have to feel this way again, I feel like I would definitely take it.”
Ohio’s lottery has been credited with inspiring cash drawings in other states, including California and West Virginia.
DeWine said it has been “phenomenally” successful in Ohio, with fewer counties seeing high transmission rates.
A week after the promotion was announced, vaccinations went up 53% week-over-week, the state’s health department said.
So far, 45.5% of the state has received at least one dose. More than half — 53% — ages 12 and up have.
“The way we move forward, the way we assure that we get back to normal, is for more and more of us to get vaccinated,” DeWine said Thursday. “Every day when we get more people vaccinated, we’re making it harder for this virus to spread.”
The governor said the state is considering additional incentives to “make this a little more enticing” and reach people who are waiting to get the vaccine, but didn’t have anything official to announce.
“One of our goals was really to speed people up,” he said. “I think that we’ve succeeded and got a lot of people vaccinated quicker than they would of.”