The Hundred Thousand Dollar Puzzle by David Dobrik

January 27th, 2021

Unlike your mother, YouTuber-turned-TikTok star David Dobrik may actually be made of money. With the help of his sponsors, he’s given away a lot of it. But the problem with giving away money is that eventually everyone is going to want some.

“One of the most common comments I see is you guys asking me for money,” the 24-year-old Slovakian-born “Dreamer” said in a TikTok video last month.

“I’ve finally figured out a way to get all of you guys money,” he continued. “I sound like a scam but this isn’t a scam. Listen, I made this puzzle. It’s called the Hundred Thousand Dollar Puzzle by David Dobrik.”

Once completed, the puzzle reveals a QR code that you scan with your phone to find out what you’ve won, “anywhere from 25 cents to $100,000,” Dobrik says.

This type of stunt may seem like nothing new for Dobrik. He’s received plaudits for his perceived generosity, from gifting a homeless man a car to handing out money to strangers on the street to paying a friend’s college tuition. For the last election, he used a Tesla giveaway to encourage people to register to vote (as a DACA recipient or “Dreamer,” Dobrik cannot vote himself).

But this latest endeavor appears to be nothing more than a cash grab.

There are two things about the “giveaway” that Dobrik leaves out of his TikTok pitch: First, in order to “get” the puzzle, as Dobrik puts it, you need to pay $30, which is a lot for a puzzle and also may not include the cost of shipping. Second, according to a breakdown of the prizes in the official rules of the game on 100kpuzzle.com, your chances of winning enough to recoup the price of the puzzle and any shipping costs are less than one percent.

The most likely outcome, at around 95 percent, is that your QR code reveals a prize of 25 cents. Only one person wins the $100,000 grand prize. Meanwhile, as some who have done the math have noted, Dobrik walks away a much richer man.

The rules also state that you can enter the contest by requesting a QR code through the mail (“alternative entry by mail”), meaning consumers don’t even have to piece together the puzzle to get a QR code, making it seem more like gambling than harmless fun. (Of note, while the rules say you have to be 18 or older to be eligible to win, nearly a third of TikTok users in the U.S. are between the ages of 10 and 19.)

It’s unclear whether the game has run out of QR codes. The puzzle’s website says the product is sold out but to enter an email address “to know when we restock.” According to the rules, the game ends on March 31 or when the 101,151 QR codes that were created for the contest are depleted.

The puzzles were scheduled to ship earlier this week. After they arrive and are put together and scanned, Dobrik may end up regretting his last words in the TikTok video: “Do me a favor: Record your reaction because you’re going to win anywhere from 25 cents to $100,000.”

TINA.org reached out for comment through the puzzle’s website. Check back for updates.

Find more of our coverage on the gamification of gambling here.

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