the two million dollar puzzle A.I. art

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Have you ever thought to yourself, “Puzzles are fun, but how come I can’t gamble while I do them?” If so, you are the target demographic for the Two Million Dollar Puzzle by MSCHF, a Brooklyn-based art collective. 

The 500-piece jigsaw puzzle, which is in the shape of a QR code, is the solution to your problem. You buy a puzzle for $30 and put it together. Once finished, you are to scan the puzzle like an actual QR code, leading you to a landing page that lets you know how much money you’ve won. The top prize is a million bucks.

two million dollar puzzle boxPhoto credit: Wilder Shaw / Cheapism

How Does the Prize Money Break Down? 

Now you might be having yet another thought: "If it's a $2-million puzzle, why is the top prize only $1 million?" Yeah, same here. Here's how the prizes break down. (And yes, none of this will make it make sense.)

  • Two puzzles out there scan for the $1,000,000
  • One puzzle scans for $500,000
  • Two for $250,000
  • Five for $100,000
  • 20 people will receive $10,000
  • 50 will get $2,500
  • 200 will get a grand
  • 2,000 people will win $100
  • The remaining players (roughly 600,000 puzzles) will get a dollar.

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Has Anyone Won the Two Million Dollar Puzzle?

Not yet. Sorry to spoil the end of my tale.

pieces of the two million dollar puzzlePhoto credit: Wilder Shaw / Cheapism

How to Solve the Two Million Dollar Puzzle

Like all puzzles, I recommend starting with the border. This is both easy and hard at the same time. It's easy because the border is blue and uncomplicated to group together. The hard part comes when you realize that a ton of these pieces fit so convincingly with incorrect mates, that you might have a lot of rearranging to do. I sure did.

There are two “types” of pieces, I noticed. Some are kind of like the shape of an “H” and others are long and short. Separating these from each other was immensely helpful for me. From there, I just did my best to match up colors. 

Or, honestly, just Google what the design looks like, scan it, and enter your code. That’s a whole lot easier.

Related: Gifts for People Who Love Jigsaw Puzzles

the two million dollar puzzlePhoto credit: Wilder Shaw / Cheapism

What Happens to One’s Mind While Attempting the Two Million Dollar Puzzle?

MSCHF claims that this puzzle is a 5/10 on the difficulty scale. That’s disheartening to hear because as far as I’m concerned, this was a 10. With no reference photo, I was pretty much lost at sea and it turned me into a lunatic.

This took me about three weeks. The puzzle is a multicolored enigma; a black QR code with a rainbow shadow effect. It is not uncommon for a single piece to contain jagged edges of red, black, green, orange, yellow, and blue. There’s so much going on.

The pieces are tiny, too. I thought I dropped or lost them constantly. I regularly found myself slowly scanning the ground, doubled over like a little boy with a stomach ache, searching for any evidence of missing pieces. This usually wasn't even because I thought I lost a specific one; rather, because I was nervous I might have.

Eventually, I began seeing the world in jigsaw pieces. There were invisible, jigsaw-style outlines of everything I looked at, and I couldn't stop imagining how to rearrange them to fit seamlessly into their surroundings. 

I dreamt of the puzzle. I thought about the puzzle while I was watching TV. It was the center of my universe, and I was going down a dark road. Luckily, it was around this time I finally solved the damn thing and my suffering came to an end. 

Oh, and I won a dollar. Congratulations to me.

Will the Puzzle Still Scan Even If You’re Missing Some Pieces?

According to the website FAQ, yes, the puzzle will still scan. Really wish I knew that before I spent all that time on the ground.

When Does the Contest End?

Feeling lucky? You’ve got until January 10th to buy it. 

Or, you could always just skip it and tell yourself you won $30. Choice is yours.

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