The contests aren’t unusual: Taking place during time outs or halftime of basketball games, someone gets a chance for a big payday by doing something improbable.
It happened last week at the University of Northern Iowa when Dalton Hinsch, a sophomore who graduated from Mankato West, won a $10,000 prize for hitting a series of shots that culminated with him swishing a half-court heave.
It wasn’t that easy.
During a time out, Hinsch made a lay-up, a free throw and a three-pointer before hitting the half-court shot.
But the cheers turned into boos when contest officials announced that Hinsch didn’t make all of the shots within the required 24 seconds. A video showed that it took him closer to 27, but there wasn’t a clock running anywhere in the arena for fans to watch the countdown for themselves.
Hinsch took to Twitter to let his situation be known.
As a compromise, the school and the contest sponsor first decided to award him $2,000 and tickets to the Missouri Valley Conference postseason tournament in St. Louis.
That satisfied some people, but not others.
And it was big news in Iowa.
On Friday, the university and the contest sponsor, a seed company, decided to give Hinsch the full prize. Northern Iowa athletic director David Harris told the Des Moines Register: “It’s just been fielding feedback from fans and people who were at the game and seeing the stories and having some conversations about, 'OK, we’re in a position where we feel like we want to resolve it in the best way possible.' And so having conversations, we arrived at a conclusion we felt comfortable with and we felt was the right thing to do."
Hinsch liked the outcome, too.
The school has two more games, and the contest will be held. The school is considering installing a portable shot clock – the actual one can’t be used during the game – so that a situation like this won’t occur again.
Now, the athletic director and Northern Iowa fans can get back to the bigger issue: Whether the Panthers, one of the nation’s elite mid-major teams, can get to the NCAA tournament.
"We want to keep the focus where it should be," Harris told the Register. "So being able to resolve this and move forward is important for all of us."