Meet Abbigail Bugenske, Ohio’s first $1 million Vax-a-Million winner

Abbigail Bugenske become the first $1 million jackpot winner in Ohio's Vax-a-Million lottory
[ – 2021.05.27] Abbigail Bugenske has won Ohio’s first $1 million jackpot in the state’s Vax-a-Million lottery.

A recent college graduate, the 22-year-old Bugenske lives in the Cincinnati area, residing in the small and quiet village of Silverton about 11 miles northeast of the city.

She works for GE Aviation, recently moving to the area for her job.

She’s also an Ohio State University student pursuing a master’s in aerospace engineering, and graduated from Michigan State University in August of last year.

Speaking to the press for the first time Thursday, Bugenske said she has no plans to quit her current job — a job she loves — and plans to donate at least some of her winnings to charity.

“I was completely surprised when I got the call. I still can’t believe it. It was a crazy night,” the 22-year-old said.

Bugenske received a personal call from Gov. Mike DeWine Wednesday evening, shortly before the state’s 7:29 p.m. drawing.

“Calling someone and telling them that they won a million dollars is a great thing,” the governor said through a large smile, remembering Bugenske’s reaction.

“I was screaming enough that my parents thought I was crying and that something was wrong,” she said. “And when I started yelling that I won $1 million and was going to be a millionaire, they told me to calm down and make sure it wasn’t a prank before I really started freaking out.”

The call was, in fact, real. Bugenske said her phone began to blow up with notes from friends and social media friend requests.

The 22-year-old said she received the COVID-19 vaccine long before the birth of the Vax-a-Million program, but added that if winning $1 million isn’t an incentive enough, she doesn’t know what is.

More than 2.7 million adults signed up for the $1 million prize and more than 104,000 children ages 12 to 17 entered the drawing for the college scholarship, which includes tuition, room and board, and books.

Joseph Costello, 14, of Englewood, won the first lottery for a full-ride scholarship.

Four more $1 million and college scholarship winners will be announced each Wednesday for the next four weeks.