Restaurant bill brainteaser to find the ‘missing pound’ is really confusing people

A frustrating brainteaser challenging people to find the ‘missing pound’ has resurfaced and it’s leaving people baffled.

We’ve all been sat a restaurant table trying to figure out how to split a complicated bill between everyone.

Compared to that, a riddle of three friends each throwing in an equal amount to settle a bill sounds pretty simple, right?

But a video shared on TikTok has racked up thousands of comments from users left scratching their heads at the conundrum.

The video begins with the person sat with a pen and paper attempting to solve the brainteaser, with the voiceover saying: “Okay someone explain this to me, because I just don’t get it.”

The riddle
Three friends go out for dinner at a restaurant and they split the bill, each throwing in £10, making a total of £30.

The meal only came to £25 so the waiter has to give them £5 in change.

Unsure of how to split it equally between the three customers, he gives them each £1 back, and he keeps £2 for himself.

After the friends are given £1 back, they have now only paid £9 each instead. That makes £27, plus the £2 the waiter kept, making £29.

So where has the extra pound gone?

It confused others, as one replied: “NO. That pound actually disappeared.”

Another said: “Too much math for me.”

A third commented: “The only thing I can think is that when we invented maths we got it wrong.”

But solving it all comes down to looking at it a different way – and it’s incredibly simple.

The answer
The pound is not missing at all, and the riddle is an example of informal fallacy, meaning the error lies in the reasoning.

It becomes clear when you set out the sums in a different format. If you add up the £25 cost of the meal, the £1 given to each of the friends, and the £2 the waiter keeps, the total is £30.

The trick comes in the wording of the riddle, where it suggests adding the £2 the waiter kept to the £27 the friends have paid.

The £2 for the waiter has already been included in the £27 total, as the bill was originally only £25. Then add on the £3 given to each of the friends to the total of £27 and it all starts to make a lot more sense.

£25 + £1 + £1 + £1 + £2 = £30.