A convenience store in New York City has gained national attention for offering free items to customers who can flex their mathematical muscles.
Ahmed Alwan, a 20-year-old student attending Bronx Community College, began learning the family business when he was 13.
Alwan’s father, Saleh Aobad, owns the small convenience store named Lucky Candy, located in the Bronx.
In late January, Alwan, who knows many of the store’s customers by name, came up with a game that has gone viral in a matter of weeks thanks to video sharing platform TikTok.
“I’ve always helped out people in the neighborhood. They’ve known me since I was a little kid. I know half of them by name and, ya know, sometimes they need credit,” Alwan told Today.
“This neighborhood has a lot of poor people. I see people — some of whom are close customers — sleeping on the train. I used to give them buttered rolls, coffee and banana for free in the morning.”
Alwan’s game is simple: he gives customers a math problem to solve and if the lucky contestant answers correctly, he or she has five seconds to grab as many items from the store as possible and take them for free.
With a high-energy game show host vibe, Alwan loudly counts down the seconds from five to zero, filming the happy scenes and posting them on TikTok.
His videos quickly became popular, amassing over 5 million views in roughly one week.
“It kind of shocked me,” Alwan said of the response.
He told Today that he hopes posting the videos on TikTok will show children watching that good things come from staying in school and receiving an education.
Alwan added that he pays for the items out of his own pocket and that the game has not had any negative financial implications on the family business.
Aobad agreed, telling CNN he was “very proud” of his son for bringing the community together in this way.
“It’s impacting the business in a positive way, bringing awareness and attention to the store as well as spreading positivity throughout the community,” Aobad said.
Alwan told CNN the math challenge has been a great way to help people in a challenge that is fun.
“It’s a way to entertain and educate people in need while putting a smile on their face, too,” he said.
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