The USA Memory Championship and Lumosity Team Up with Penn State, MIT to Host the 22nd Annual Memory Competition

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Since its inception, the USA Memory Championships event has attracted top memory athletes throughout the country. Past champions include 2019 winner Lance Tschirhart, 2018 champion John Graham, 4x champion Nelson Dellis, 2x champion Ron White, Chester Santos and Moonwalking with Einstein author Josh Foer. Competitors from around the US will compete for a $9,000 cash prize and to be named 2020’s USA Memory Champion.

On April 18, 2020, the qualifying round for its 22nd Annual Memory Championship and high school team competition will be held at Penn State Harrisburg, in Middletown, PA. Mental athletes compete in challenges that require them to memorize 135 names and faces, an unpublished poem, a series of random numbers and a shuffled deck of cards.

Twelve individuals will advance from the qualifying round to the finals held at Kresge Auditorium at MIT(October TBD) in Cambridge, MA. Finalists will compete head-to-head on stage in front of a live audience in four events – Words to Remember (competitors are given 15 minutes to memorize 300 words); Three Strikes You’re Out (competitors meet six people and learn 40 bits of personal information about them); It’s Been A Long Time (Mental Athletes are tested on 3,500 bits of information provided 30 days before the competition); and Double Deck Or Bust (competitors have three minutes to memorize the order of two full decks ofcards — 104 cards total).

“The 22nd championship will be the largest event in our history,” says Tony Dottino, Founder of the USA Memory Championship. “We are delighted to be returning to Penn State Harrisburg and the McGovern Institute for Brain Research at MIT.” Dottino said, “Memory is a skill that anyone can improve if they have the belief that they can improve, combined with the willingness to learn and practice. All our champions began with what they defined as “ordinary” memory ability. I encourage everyone to add 15 minutes of memory exercise to their daily habits.

”Over its 22-year run, the competition has expanded beyond the academic community and gained the attention of a larger audience. In 2019, Netflix released the Memory Games documentary, which gave viewers a front row seat into the lives of four mental athletes.

This year’s event, sponsored by Lumosity, is projected to attract over 500 spectators. Dr. Bob Schafer, Chief Science Officer and General Manager of Lumosity said, “These mental athletes come from all backgrounds and are incredible representations of everything the Lumosity community stands for: the idea that all of us can learn to do more with our minds. We couldn’t be more excited to support their hard work and inspire the world through their stories.

”In addition to the return of familiar cognitive challenges is the return of well-known members of the memory community, such as Dr. Robert Ajemian, neuroscience researcher at the McGovern Institute for Brain Research. Ajemian has co-authored several articles and studies on brain function and performance.

“I love the diversity of memory challenges that are included in the event. We strive to test as many different types of memory as possible. The competitors’ performance is a fantastic demonstration of the power of human memory.”


The Team registration is open to middle and high schools, colleges, universities and/or organizations that wish tocompete as a team. A team consists of 4-6 mental athletes.

Qualifying Round Location 
Penn State Harrisburg, Middletown, PA
Date and Time: April 18, 2020

Final Round Location
Kresge Auditorium, MIT, Cambridge, MA
Date and Time: October TBD, 2020

Athlete Registration Fees
Adult individual registration $125, minor individual registration $49

About the USA Memory Championship: The USA Memory Championship is a tournament of memory challenges, founded by Tony Dottino in 1997 to demonstrate the tremendous potential for each of us to improve our memory. It has appeared in the New York Times, LA Times, Washington Post, and USA Today and was featured in the 2019 Netflix documentary, Memory Games.

For registration visit, or contact cell phone: 570-350-3839.

About Us

The USA Memory Championship was founded in 1997 by Tony Dottino and Marshall Tarley. It is an annual one-day event open to US citizens that invites competitors of age 10 and older to compete for the opportunity to be recognized as the national US Memory Champion.

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