Where in the world was the golden nugget buried, and how do the clues reveal its location? 


There were three types of clues hidden in the 2017 New Year’s Resolution Challenge videos: hidden letters, clusters of numbers, and several strange images. When combined, these clues also revealed a mysterious Vigenere key, as well as a secret mathematical equation that pointed right to the buried treasure. Here’s how it worked.  



Hidden Lettersletters

Each episode concealed several hidden letters. Using the first number clue (see below), we learn that these letters can be decoded by using a Vigenere code – a cipher which requires you to “shift” the alphabet to find the solution. The only thing missing in this case is the Vigenere “key,” which indicates how far the alphabet needs to be shifted for each set of clues. When a Vigenere code is missing its key, the only way to solve it is by trial and error. The first episode’s clue was straightforward – the letters simply spelled out “Rosebud” with no shifting required. The way a Vigenere cipher works, the key for that cluster was the letter “A.” In the next episode, the alphabet needed to be shifted 18 spaces to reveal the new word, meaning the key was the letter “S.” Here are the decoded letters from each episode, as well as the Vigenere key which emerged (with punctuation added):

  • A: “Rosebud.”
  • S: “Bond. James Bond.”
  • K: “Play it, Sam.”
  • T: “Bigger boat.”
  • H: “I’ll be back.”
  • E: “I see dead people.”
  • I: “Well, nobody’s perfect.”
  • M: “It’s alive! It’s alive!”
  • D: “Yo, Adrian!”
  • B: “My precious.”

In case you haven’t noticed, the decoded letter clues spell out famous movie quotes from classic films. Which films? The pictures offer additional clues…




pictureHidden Pictures

The images in each episode served to reinforce the cinema clue given by the encoded movie quotes. Here are the hidden images from each episode, along with the implied film title:

  • Sled –> Citizen Kane (1941)
  • Gun –> Dr. No (1962)
  • Grand piano –> Casablanca (1942)
  • Shark –> Jaws (1975)
  • Sunglasses –> The Terminator (1984)
  • Ghost –> The Sixth Sense (1999)
  • Saxophone –> Some Like it Hot (1959)
  • Lightening –> Frankenstein (1931)
  • Boxing glove –> Rocky (1976)
  • Ring –> The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002)





Clusters of Numbersnumbers

Several of the episodes (but not all of them) contained hidden clusters of numbers and other symbols. These numbers required a simple substitution cipher to decode (0=A, 1=B, 2=C, and so on…). When deciphered, these clues hinted at how to solve the puzzle, and also contained the equation necessary to calculate the treasure’s resting place.

  • “Vigenere” –> implies that a Vigenere cipher will come in handy with the letter clues (see above)
  • “12 _____ A Slave” –> the title of a recent film. The missing word? YEARS
  • “______ Pointe Blank” –> another film title. Missing word: GROSSE (note – there’s also a US flag hiding next to this clue, which is very significant)
  • “___ Of All Fears” –> yet another film title. The missing word? SUM
  • “14√ (14th root)” –> a calculation will be necessary
  • “Minus Outapi” –> You’ll need to locate Outapi on a map and find its coordinates
  • “Antipode” –> (look it up)




The Equation: Putting Everything Together

Time to do some math. In order to locate a precise location on a map, you’ll need two coordinates: the latitude and the longitude. These can each be derived using the following steps:

  1. Find the YEAR of each film’s release
  2. Use each film’s US box-office GROSS (remember the US flag?)
  3. (How to find each film’s release date and box office gross? Check the Vigenere key that emerged during trial-and-error decoding: “ASK THE IMDB“)
  4. Take the SUM of each number (sum of release years = 19671; sum of box office grosses = 971,851,430)
  5. Take the 14th root of each number (years = 2.02629; grosses = 4.38502)
  6. Find the latitude and longitude of Outapi, Namibia (-17.5101, 14.98855)
  7. Subtract these coordinates from your numbers (2.02629 – (-17.5101)) = 19.53641 / (4.38502 – 14.98855) = -10.6035
  8. Almost there! These coordinates lead to the polar opposite spot on the planet earth. Now find the ANTIPODE (try using this tool!): (-19.5364, 169.3965)


Here’s the solution in chart form:






Tate Grayson’s golden nugget was buried near a volcano on the island of Tanna, in Vanuatu, an island nation in the South Pacific. Congratulations to our winners! In a matter of weeks, they’ll be on their way to a tropical paradise to dig up their prize – a real golden nugget.

vanuatu map






What do you think? Were you close? What was it that threw you off? Let us know by emailing

There’s more adventure where this came from. Register today for the next Brain Chase program, and you could be the next treasure hunter traveling around the world to dig up a real treasure. 




Good luck!


Dad and Co-founder

Team Brain Chase