Two Story County men turned a leisurely Sunday afternoon into a winning experience.


Clinton Weeks and Shawn Birdsall of Slater claimed a $36,983.15 jackpot in the “Cherry Twist Progressive” InstaPlay game. They bought their winning ticket at the Nite Hawk Bar & Grill, 105 Greene St. in Slater, and picked up their winnings on April 30 at lottery headquarters in Clive.


The friends said they had been watching the game’s jackpot, the largest since the game began on Nov. 13, 2016. The Cherry Twist Progressive jackpot starts at $2,000 and grows with each ticket sold statewide until someone wins it.


“We saw ‘Cherries’ were super high, so we threw $20 each in at one point (and) lost it,” Birdsall, 34, said. “About an hour later, (we) decided to do it again and won.”


As they purchased their second batch of tickets, they realized the jackpot amount was reset.


“We were bummed and thought we’d missed it,” Weeks said. “We got partway through our stack of tickets and realized there was still the jackpot on some of them.”


They quickly scoured the rest of the stack and uncovered the winner.


“We were stunned, really,” Weeks said. “There wasn’t much said. We high-fived and bought a few beers for our friends who were sitting there with us and went on with our day.”


Weeks, 34, told lottery officials he “might buy a toy” with his winnings. Birdsall’s prize money is going toward his upcoming wedding. Both plan to continue playing Cherry Twist.


“It’s always exciting,” Birdsall said.


InstaPlay combines features from instant-scratch and lotto games and gives players a new option with no numbers to pick, playslips to fill out or wait for a drawing. InstaPlay tickets are “scratchless” because they have no security coating that needs to be removed to determine the prize won. And rather than having supplies of tickets printed in advance like those in traditional scratch and pull-tab games, InstaPlay tickets are printed on demand from the lottery terminal, as lotto games like Powerball® and Mega Millions® are. But the play style of InstaPlay tickets is similar to that of scratch tickets, with symbols and numbers that need to match in order to win a prize.


InstaPlay games range in price from $1 to $5, with a $10 game beginning next month. More details about how to play these games, and the number of prizes still up for grabs in them, can be found on the Iowa Lottery’s website, ialottery.com.