Ahmed Alwan has come up with a challenge that lets customers take free items for answering a simple math problem.
A can of soda, a sandwich, or perhaps a bar of your favorite chocolate, these are just a few things you could stand a chance to gain by solving a simple math problem in this New York deli. Yes, there's more to it. Customers at Lucky Candy, a deli in the Bronx, are used to this experience and then some more, courtesy of its young and cheerful cashier Ahmed Alwan, whose popularity soared after he started playing a game with his shoppers.
The rules are quite simple: If you solve a simple math problem, you will be given five seconds to grab any item you can from the store and have it for free. Although, as some have already tried, it doesn't apply to one precious item, Alwan's cat.
Speaking to CNN, the 20-year-old college student said: "All I wanted to do was to help people. 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."
Two weeks and over a dozen videos later, Alwan has, in fact, become a phenomenon on TikTok and Instagram, having gained 300,000 and 17,000 followers on the two platforms respectively. His posts have gained over a million views on Instagram alone while receiving media coverage from several media outlets too.
Some of Alwan's questions went like: "What's 10 times 10 minus 50?" or "What's 9 times 9 minus 5?" or "What's 8 times 8?"
Once the customers answer the question correctly, they can scramble to get whatever they can grab hold of as Alwan counts down from five to one. You could walk away with taking candy, crackers, chips, cookies, and even hookah pots like one of the participants did. Do you know what the cost of whatever you grab? $0!
Young Alwan pays for everything by himself too and says his main concern isn't the money but to help low-income groups save for more important expenses such as rent and utilities. Saleh Aobad, Alwan's father and owner of the store, says he's proud of his son for doing this.
"It's great to see him do good and help out the community, and most importantly represent Islam. 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, an immigrant from Yemen, said.
Alwan, who's studying to be a pharmacist at Bronx Community College, also has a history of being charitable, the CNN report says. "This changed our relationship with the community big time," Alwan explained. "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."
He has even set up a GoFundMe page to help keep the game going as more people pile up at his store's doors to take part in the experience. "The money will be going towards products and food that would be used for the challenges and even simple donations for customers in need," said Alwan, while also noting that the goal is to "inspire others to always be kindhearted."