College student Kenyon Lee is the latest TikTok star to rapidly grow an audience for his talent; he's able to guess a person's height with just a few markers and his impressive handle on math.
The 18-year-old from Memphis has been challenged by fellow TikTokers to put his skills to the test, with thousands of tags and calls to duet coming in daily.
Kenyon told BuzzFeed News, "[It's] an interesting concept. Everybody just challenges me."
"I'm a one-man army, so it does get overwhelming sometimes. I'm getting mentioned like thousands of times a day, but I definitely think it'll keep going until, like, this fad kind of dies off," he said.
In his TikToks, Kenyon accepts the challenge to guess a user’s height and proceeds to work it out in an entertaining way. This might include using a Dunkin' cup to work out the diameter of a hand, or using a microwave to confirm the width of a chest, followed by a series of mathematical equations that give a pretty accurate number.
Explaining his evolving methodology, Kenyon shared that his starting point was originally Leonardo da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man, which states ratios that "pretty much the average human body follows."
“Really, it all boils down to what kind of evidence I can find on their page," he said. "So I can find different objects in their room that just kind of help me gauge, guess their height. I try not to even take into account how the object looks in comparison with the person, but I more so like to look at the dimensions and just see if the math lines up. So most of the time, I'm actually really accurate.”
Kenyon put his accuracy at around 80%–85%, but he is consistently improving this percentage the more he takes on the challenge and refines his methods.
“I've missed, like, three or four when I was really pulling together my theory, so I was kind of theory crafting. And so I'm testing different methods, but I guess the main thing I really needed was to gather enough data," he said. "But by the point where I was able to really formulate an equation, that's when I was just starting to get in, get the heights right just back to back.”
Since his first viral video, Kenyon’s TikTok has amassed more than 2 million followers. Beyond TikTok, the math whiz, who is majoring in engineering, is also using this moment to explore his future career options. His popularity on the platform has caught the attention of STEM professionals who have offered insight.
“I'm really looking into computer science," he said. "I've been talking with a lot of other engineers who've connected with me through my page, and they've just been talking to me about things that I might like, such as digital forensics, data science. I think it's really interesting and stuff that I would look into.”
As his audience grows, so do opportunities to monetize his page, but the teenager says that he isn’t keen to leverage his newfound popularity into full-fledged influencer status.
“It's definitely amazing. A lot of people have just been reaching out to me for sponsorship reasons, promotional things — but I don't really make money from my TikTok, because I just don't feel like it would really align with my content,” Kenyon said.
He is, however, happy to be an ambassador for members of the young STEM community, many of whom have commended him for popularizing math on TikTok.
The math enthusiast knows of simpler ways the equations could be done to get the same answer — but for Kenyon, the impact is in creating a moment of engagement with math where the audience is entertained throughout.
“To me, it wouldn't really have the same effect. It wouldn't be as entertaining. I'm aware of all the practical methods that you can use, but, you know, I was just trying to show people that there is a more creative way to go about solving problems,” he said.