NYC C-Store Offers Free Food for Math Solutions

Customers who solve a simple equation get five seconds to grab merchandise.

February 14, 2020

NEW YORK—If you know what 5 x 5 =, chances are, you can win the math game devised by Ahmed Alwan, a cashier at the Lucky Candy, CNN reports. The clerk gives customers a simple math equation such as 9 x 9 - 5, and if they solve it correctly, they have five seconds to grab anything in the store and keep it for free. Well, anything except for his cat (and yes, someone did pick the feline).

“All I wanted to do was to help people,” he said. “But I wanted to make it fun. So I made a TikTok and chose a challenge, asking them a math question. It's a way to entertain and educate people in need while putting a smile on their face, too.”

The son of the store’s owner, Alwan pays for the “free” merchandise out of his own pocket, and posts videos of the game on TikTok and Instagram. The videos went viral, and he has more than 300,000 TikTok followers and 17,000 Instagram followers.

He said he wanted to help low-income community members, and devised the game to do so in a fun way. “It's great to see him do good and help out the community, and most importantly represent Islam,” said owner Saleh Aobad. “It's impacting the business in a positive way, bringing awareness and attention to the store as well as spreading positivity throughout the community.”

Alwan recently started a GoFundMe for donations to allow him to help more people through the game. “This changed our relationship with the community big time,” he said. “They're all showing me so much love and lining up at the store just for a chance to play. We have so many visitors coming to take pictures and say hi. But it's not about me. It's about the community.”