Dan Kirkeby
Dan Kirkeby
After not having the best luck on a few scratch games, Dan Kirkeby of Decorah decided to try playing the lottery's "Jingle Bell Jackpot" instant-scratch game and won a top prize of $30,000.

Kirkeby, 48, said he could tell he was going to have a winner, but he had no idea just how much he'd won.

"I scratched the first eight numbers and I hit 'em all and I'm going, 'Huh, I'm gonna have a decent winner here,'" Kirkeby said. "And then, got down to the end and got the two bonuses and yeah, it was pretty cool. It was unbelievable, really."

Kirkeby took his ticket back to the clerk at Nordic Express, 1101 Montgomery St. in Decorah where he'd purchased the ticket to have it validated.

"She said, 'Congratulations.' I know her, so it was kind of nice," he said.

Kirkeby, who is a maintenance supervisor, told his family about his big news first. He waited until his wife, Regina, got home from work to tell her what had happened.

"I held up the little slip of paper that said the amount of money and she said, 'No way!'" Kirkeby said.

Kirkeby is looking forward to using his winnings to become debt-free. He claimed his prize Dec. 27 at the Iowa Lottery's regional office in Mason City.

Jingle Bell Jackpot is a $3 scratch game. Players scratch 18 of "your numbers" and two "bonus your numbers," and then scratch the matching "jingle bell numbers." If seven or more of "your numbers" or "bonus your numbers" match the "jingle bell numbers" players win a prize. Players may win only once per ticket. The overall odds of winning a prize in the game are 1 in 3.66.

Four top prizes of $30,000 are still up for grabs in Jingle Bell Jackpot, as well as five prizes of $5,000, 10 prizes of $1,000, six prizes of $300 and 160 prizes of $100.