Since the ads for our Family of Games tickets began airing last week, we’ve been getting questions from folks wondering who the men are in the spots. They’re the SwitchBack quartet, and all four members of the group are from eastern Iowa.
SwitchBack's members are (left to right in the picture above): Lee Thomsen from Marion, Erik Sherard from Cedar Rapids, John Hayden from Blairstown, and in front, holding a lottery ticket, is Terry Blessing from Iowa City.
All four have collegiate singing experience, three are members of the Harmony Hawks Barbershop Chorus in Cedar Rapids, and two are music educators in school districts in Linn and Benton counties.
The group was formed in late fall 2012 when Hayden, Thomsen and Sherard needed a substitute to complete their quartet. Blessing joined the group, the other men switched parts to accommodate the new voice and that’s how the name "SwitchBack" was born. Thomsen says SwitchBack is a reference to switching around their parts in the group.
SwitchBack was chosen for the lottery commercials by a selection committee that reviewed video and audio files of quartets from across the state. The lottery spots are the group’s first commercial appearance. Hayden told us they now can officially call themselves studio recording artists!
Thomsen, 31, sings bass in the lottery production. He’s a music teacher at Starry Elementary School in the Marion Independent School District and is an assistant director of the Harmony Hawks. Sherard, also 31, is the baritone voice in the lottery ads. Hayden, 43, sings lead in the lottery's production. He teaches choral music in the Benton Community School District and directs the Harmony Hawks Barbershop Chorus. And Blessing, 30, sings tenor in the lottery spots.
The lottery's new Make My Day™, Make My Week™, Make My Month™ and Make My Year™ scratch games hit the market last Monday, the same day that the SwitchBack commercials started airing across the state. The group of tickets has a similar look, feel and gameplay, but the price point and top prize increase with the length of time indicated in the games’ names. For example, you can win up to $5,000 playing the $1 Make My Day game, but you can win up to $100,000 playing the $10 Make My Year game.