How about this for a blockbuster movie: A normal man who hates math gets mugged, hit in the head and wakes up a math genius. However, it’s not Hollywood, it really happened! And the crazy part about it is that health professionals say it could happen to any of us at any time.
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Jason Padgett’s insanely awesome story has already been turned into a book and could soon be hitting the big screen. But for Jason, what happened to him 14 years ago has been both a hardship and a blessing.
Padgett was leaving a Tacoma Karaoke bar in 2002 after a night of fun with friends. Just before midnight, two guys mugged him from behind only 10 feet outside the establishment.
“I remember getting hit and seeing a bright flash and asking for help,” said Padgett. The female friend he was with stood by while it happened, frozen with fear.
“It’s the only time I thought I was dead for sure,” Padgett as he replayed the horrific moment at the very spot on the sidewalk 14 years later.
The thugs stole Padgett’s jacket, with the idea that his wallet was inside. Little did they know, his wallet, full of cash, was tucked away safely in his back pocket.
At the ER, doctors would go on to tell Padgett that he had suffered a “severe concussion” and had internal bleeding. He was given antibiotics, painkillers and sent on his way home.
Almost instantaneously, Padgett said he started viewing the world in a whole different light, literally. He says his eyesight became “pixelated.” He saw everyday objects as geometric patterns and colors.
“It’s like small pictures are laid on top of each other one layer over another,” he says. “I began seeing the discreet structure of the universe and how curves do not exist.”
Padgett snapped. He became a homebody, keeping all his doors, windows and curtains closed at all times. He rarely ventured outside except only when necessary like to buy groceries.
“For almost three years, I was holed up in my house just trying to deal with this change in reality,” he said. “I had depression, I had post-traumatic stress, bad.”
“It was scary. It was scary for the whole family,” said his stepmother, Helen Padgett.
Then, it all changed. One random day, while watching TV in his dark, lonely home with his young daughter Megan, Padgett was asked a very important question. He had tried to explain to his daughter why he sees the universe as nothing but geometric shapes how circles aren’t possible, and how a TV screen is made up of nothing by square pixels.
Then something magical happened. A commercial for Overstock.com started, presenting a big “O” on the screen. His young daughter saw the commercial and asked her dad, “so why is there an O on the TV screen? That’s a circle.”
“That’s when it all made sense, that’s when I clicked for me,” said Padgett.
He then realized he was seeing circles as nothing more than insanely small rectangles. He said he then went on a spiritual journey of self-discovery and figured out, all on his own, the mathematical concept many learned in school: Pi.
“I was so excited, but then realized Archimedes had discovered pi 2,000 years earlier,” he said.
He says in his entire lie, he had never learned any high level math in school and never had any interest in the subject.
“He wasn’t into math at all,” said Helen. “He was bright and good looking, a real lady killer.”
“All I cared about up until that moment was going out late, partying and chasing girls,” Padgett said. “I was one of those kids that said, ‘when are you going to use math and how are you going to apply that in the real world?’ ”
After the tragic accident, Padgett also said he had a sudden urge to draw. He started drawing very intricate, mesmerizing figures using only a pencil, 1 ruler and whatever pictures he saw in his mind. He says had no idea what he was drawing, he just let his mind and hands do all the work.
“I didn’t know it was math, I thought it was just beautiful pictures,” said Helen.
“Knowing Jason before, and knowing Jason after, it’s two different people,” said Jason’s dad, John Padgett. “It’s like having two different kids.”
Jason started to talk obsessively about math, Pi and infinity. He started showing signs of slight OCD. For example, He would wash his hands constantly, steer clear of germs at all costs and became very particular about who he spoke to because he hated confrontation.
While working at the family ran mattress shop, he would break the ice with customers by introducing them to the concept of infinity and other high levels of math. But there was 1 customer who admired his love of math, a young student from Russia named Elena that would later on down the line become his wife.
“When I met him it was nothing like anyone else I ever spoke to because it was all he could talk about,” said Elena.
In 2013, Jason underwent tests in Finland to see if professionals could figure out the source of his “sudden genius.” The scientists noticed brain activity that was close to what they saw in others with “savant syndrome.”
Dr. Treffert says tests have proved the brain of a person who has suffered an intense head injury is capable of “recruiting” other parts of the brain to make up for the part that has been damaged. In Jason’s particular situation, it’s now believed the piece of his brain that was “recruited” is the part that was capable of doing high level math.
The famous doctor says there may be a “Rainman” and savant potential in all of us but it just lays doormat in the brain.
Jason says he doesn’t really feel like a genius and doesn’t consider himself to be one in the least bit.
“I don’t know if I got smarter or it’s something that I always could have done,” he said.
Despite his slight OCD, intense migraine headaches and other health issues, Jason says he doesn’t regret getting jumped on that faithful night in 2002.
“I wouldn’t change it because the good far outweighs the bad,” he said. “I hope to teach young kids the excitement of math in the terms of how I see it.”
Padgett has co-written a novel about his ordeal called “Struck by Genius.” He has went back to college to formally learn what he has already figured out. And now, Hollywood producers have also gotten in touch with him about making a movie about his insane transformation!