OHIO — Esperanza Diaz of Cincinnati couldn't sleep Wednesday night after finding out she was the last winner of the $1 million prize in Ohio's Vax-a-Million lottery.
"I was thinking to myself, 'Oh my goodness, God, let it be me. Let it be me,'" she said in the days leading up to the announcement.
During a press conference Thursday with Gov. Mike DeWine, Diaz said she still has to wrap her head around it all.
"Pay bills, help my family and I’m still trying to grasp this. I just don’t know. I’m sure I will have plenty to spend on," she said laughing after DeWine asked her what she plans to do with the money.
As for getting the vaccine, she said she was slightly hesitant — not because of whether it would work, but because of allergies.
"I got it early. I was hesitant a little bit because sometimes I have some food allergies, and I decided that the risk of getting COVID was bigger than the risk of the vaccine," Diaz said. "I think it’s better to get it."
Congratulations, Esperanza! You are our final Vax-a-Million - $1 million winner! Thanks for doing your part and getting vaccinated. (Photo by Kathleen Perez) pic.twitter.com/O70OEll66h— Mike DeWine (@MikeDeWine) June 23, 2021
As for the last full-ride scholarship winner, Sydney Daum of Brecksville, she had to wait a little bit longer to get the vaccine.
In early May, Ohio authorized 12 to 17 year olds to get the COVID-19 vaccine after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Pfizer's vaccine for the age group.
Sydney, 13, got the first dose of the vaccine on May 22. When her mom, Jennifer, received the call Sydney had won, she felt a wave of emotions.
"I couldn’t believe it. It was a shock. I had kind of forgotten about it," Jennifer said laughing. She said she told her husband, Jeremy, but he didn't believe her until he saw DeWine's face over videochat.
As for college, Sydney has a long way to go until then. While she's excited, where and what she will want to study is still being taken under consideration.
The lottery was a state effort to increase vaccination rates. As of Wednesday, more than 47% of the state's population has received the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine and 43% are fully vaccinated, according to state data.
DeWine said during the first week of the announcement, 187,238 first doses were given out. The week before, more than 92,000 received the jabs.
More than 39,000 first doses were given out last week, according to state data.
Ohio is No. 7 in the nation for total doses administered, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
More than 3.4 million Ohioans 18 and older entered the drawing last week for the $1 million prize, and more than 150,000 residents ages 12 to 17 entered for the full-ride scholarship.