This Viral Math Problem Will Make You Hate Yourself When You Figure It Out

Let’s kick off the weekend with a little brainteaser: This math problem has gone viral since it showed up on Facebook last week; the numbers game has racked up 59,000 “likes” and has been shared more than 380,000 times. The fact that it’s struck a nerve with Facebook users isn’t really surprising — because this is the kind of riddle that will absolutely have you kicking yourself when you finally figure it out. You may go into it thinking you’re a smartypants, but afterwards you may find yourself seriously questioning your own intelligence.

Antley Lamont Staten posted the brainsteaser on May 18 with the caption, “Ok i don't get it?” If the post’s comments are anything to go by, Staten’s not alone; although many commenters declare the right answer, others seem more than a little confused by the puzzle, which shows people a grid of numbers and instructs them to “Share when you find the mitsake.”

Ready to see what all the hullabaloo is about? If you don’t want the puzzle spoiled, skip this next bit and go straight to the image below.

Are you back? Did you figure it out?

Need a hint? Here ya go: This math problem isn’t actually a math problem at all.

Like many riddles, this one works through misdirection. It’s natural to see the grid of numbers and assume that the mistake has to do with some kind of hidden equation, but the solution is much, much simpler than that: “Mitsake.” “Mitsake” is not a word. HA.


Some commenters were led astray trying to figure out a mathematical solution. One person wrote, “It' s 4 and 5. 3 +6=9. 2+5=7 not 8 and 1+4=5 not 7. That' s how I looked at it.” Another commented, “Omg. took me a while because I was concentrating on the #'s lol.” The lesson? Always look for the simple answer.

Looking to while away the time until your weekend starts? Check out these other brainteasers: Here’s one with pandas! And one with a school bus! And here’s a money problem that — truth time — I’ve been staring at for 10 minutes and I still don’t understand. Don't judge.

Images: Yair Haklai/Wikimedia; Antley Lamont Staten/Facebook; Giphy