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University of Tennessee, Chattanooga professor goes viral after putting clues to cash prize in syllabus, remains unclaimed all semester

Kenyon Wilson, the Associate Head of Performing Arts at UTC, thought he'd make the syllabus "fun" for a change.
Credit: Kenyon Wilson

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. — A professor at the University of Tennessee, Chattanooga has gone viral after putting clues to a prize for students in the syllabus.

Kenyon Wilson put a locker number and the combination in the middle of the syllabus, and if you went to that locker you would have found a note and fifty dollars. No one claimed it throughout the semester.

"It's kind of an old academic trope that students don't read the syllabus,” Wilson said. 

Wilson is currently the Associate Head of Performing Arts at UTC.

Wilson thought he'd make the syllabus "fun" for a change. Wilson typically teaches the same students throughout their four years and usually doesn't change the syllabus much. But, he gave his students, seventy-one in this class, a warning this time around.

"I pointed out the first week of class saying hey these are the three parts of the syllabus that have changed, make sure you take a look at them,” Wilson said.

Either the students missed this part or didn't read it at all because he put the clue to the prize in there. No riddle or complex puzzle. Just in plain text.

"It was simply in the middle of a paragraph, middle of the sentence actually, I just open parenthesis said 'free to the first who claims; locker one hundred forty-seven; combination fifteen, twenty-five, thirty-five' close parenthesis and then continued with the sentence,” Wilson said. 

My semester-long experiment has come to an end. At the start of the term, I placed $50 in one of our lockers and...

Posted by Kenyon Wilson on Wednesday, December 8, 2021

It was right in the middle of a COVID-19 policy. He gave students until the last day of the semester to claim the money and no one did.

Wilson posted on Facebook a picture of the locker with the fifty dollars and note still in there. It's captured people's attention nationwide.

"It's just been interesting to sit back and watch the reaction and watch how things go viral," Wilson said.

Students in the class are not surprised that Wilson did something like this. They say he's a funny, light-hearted teacher who gets along great with all his students. They are bummed they missed out on an easy fifty bucks though.

"Right in the middle of the text, just a comma, and then he put the message. It was quite funny,” student Timothy Hawn said. 

Wilson enjoys doing stuff like this and will probably do something fun again for future classes.

This story was originally reported by WRCBtv in Chattanooga.