Alex Mullen (memory athlete)

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Alex Mullen
Alex Mullen, 2016 WMC, Dec 18.jpg
Mullen at the 2016 World Memory Championship in Singapore
Personal information
Full nameAlexander Joseph Mullen
Born (1992-03-03) March 3, 1992 (age 26)
Princeton, New Jersey, United States
ResidenceJackson, Mississippi
Alma materJohns Hopkins University (B.S. in Biomedical Engineering)
Years active2014-present
Spouse(s)Cathy Chen (m. 2015)
RankNo. 1 (December 2018)
Achievements and titles
World finals1st place (2015, 2016, 2017)
National finals1st place (2016)
Highest world rankingNo. 1 (June 2016)
Personal best(s)
  • Speed Cards (analog): 15.61 sec (2017, WR)
  • Speed Cards (digital): 16.86 sec (2016, WR)
  • 80 Digits: 17.65 sec (2016, WR)
  • 5 min Numbers: 568 digits (2017, WR)
  • 15 min Numbers: 1100 digits (2016, WR)
  • 30 min Numbers: 1933 digits (2016, WR)
  • Historic Dates: 133 dates (2017, WR)
  • 60 min Numbers: 3238 digits (2017, WR)

Alex Mullen (born March 3, 1992) is an American memory grandmaster, medical student, and three-time world memory champion.[1][2] The first American to win the world title, he won for three consecutive years the 2015, 2016, and 2017 World Memory Championships and is currently the world No. 1 ranked memory competitor.[2][3][4][5][6][7] He is also the 2016 USA memory champion.[8] Along with his wife, Princeton alumna Cathy Chen, he runs Mullen Memory[9] - a nonprofit which "provides free resources exploring memory palaces as learning tools."[10]

Personal life[edit]

Mullen was born in Princeton, New Jersey.[3] He grew up in Oxford, Mississippi and attended Oxford High School, where he competed on the varsity swimming and tennis teams.[11] In his senior year, Mullen was a National Merit Finalist and fourth award winner at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair for a team project with his future wife, Cathy Chen.[12][13] He attended Johns Hopkins University to study biomedical engineering and applied mathematics & statistics.[14]

Mullen lives in Jackson, Mississippi and attends the University of Mississippi School of Medicine, where he and his wife are students.[11] Both received the Jim and Donna Barksdale Scholarship to cover the full cost of attendance over four years of medical school.[3]

Notable competitions[edit]


  • World Memory Championships (Dec. 16-18, Chengdu, China): 1st place overall.[15] Mullen became the tenth individual, and the first American, to win the world championship since its inception in 1991.[16] He also received the title of international grandmaster of memory, the highest title bestowed by the World Memory Sports Council, at this event.[17][1]


  • USA Memory Championship (May 9, Hershey, PA): 1st place overall.[18] Mullen became the ninth individual to win the American national championship since its inception in 1998.[19]
  • US Open (July 2–3, Los Angeles, CA): 1st place overall. With 8,794 total points, Mullen achieved the highest total score in memory sports history (taking into account adjustments in scoring standards), giving him the world No. 1 ranking.[20][6]
  • Memoriad (Nov. 8-10, Las Vegas, NV): gold: speed cards, hour numbers, silver: names and faces, spoken numbers.[21]
  • European Open (Dec. 3-4, London, UK): 1st place overall.[22] With 9,143 total points, Mullen broke his earlier mark for highest total score.[6]
  • World Memory Championships (Dec. 15-17, Singapore): 1st place overall.[23]


  • World Memory Championships (IAM) (Dec. 1-3, Jakarta, Indonesia): 1st place overall.[24] Most world records broken at the event, 4. His mark of 9,055 total points remains the highest adjusted score achieved at a traditional memory sports competition.[25]


Mullen has held world records in 12 different disciplines, most involving the memorization of numbers or playing cards.[26][27][28][29] As of Dec. 19, 2018, he held 5.[26] He is the first person to memorize the order of a deck of playing cards in under 20 seconds at an official competition.[30] He is also the first to memorize more than 3,000 decimal digits in one hour.[31]

Media Appearances[edit]

Mullen was a two-time contestant on the final season of the Chinese television program The Brain in 2017, defeating his opponent Wang Feng, the 2010 and 2011 World Memory Champion, by accurately recalling the airline routes, departure and arrival locations, and times of 50 flights.[32] He was also a contestant on Superhuman, the American version of The Brain, winning his episode by memorizing a deck of cards flashed onscreen at two cards per second.[33] Mullen has been featured in The New Yorker[34], BBC[35], CNN[36], The Washington Post[37], Lifehacker[38], Vital Signs with Dr. Sanjay Gupta[39], Today[40], Mic,[2] Guinness World Records[41], Men's Health[42], and The Guardian[43], among others.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Special Titles | International Association of Memory Statistics". Retrieved 2016-11-07.
  2. ^ a b c Jordyn Taylor, "The Person With the World's Best Memory Is a Millennial From the US", in Mic (media company), March 2016.
  3. ^ a b c Callie Bryant, "World Memory Champion, Oxford Native Alex Mullen Teaches Memorization", in, February 02, 2016.
  4. ^ Pettus, Gary (December 18, 2015). "UMMC student wins world memory challenge". The Clarion Ledger. Jackson, Mississippi.
  5. ^ "World Memory Championships 2016 (Combined) | World Memory Championships". Retrieved 2017-01-02.
  6. ^ a b c "World Ranking | International Association of Memory Statistics". Retrieved 2016-07-05.
  7. ^ "World Memory Championships 2017". Archived from the original on 2017-12-05.
  8. ^ "2016 Final Top 9 MA Rankings | USA Memory Championship". Retrieved 2016-05-10.
  9. ^ "Home". Mullen Memory. Retrieved 2017-12-06.
  10. ^ "Home | Mullen Memory". Retrieved 2016-12-29.
  11. ^ a b Gary Pettus, Memory Serves Alex Mullen, New World Mental Athlete Champion", in University of Mississippi News, January 28, 2016.
  12. ^ "Oxford High School National Merit Finalists", 2010.
  13. ^ "Intel ISEF 2010 Grand Awards Ceremony"[permanent dead link], May 14, 2010.
  14. ^ "2014 JHU Engineering Convocation Awards Ceremony", May 5, 2014.
  15. ^ "World Memory Championships 2015 | International Association of Memory Statistics". Retrieved 2016-11-07.
  16. ^ "World Memory Championships | World Memory Statistics". Retrieved 2016-12-21.
  17. ^ "Grandmasters | World Memory Statistics". Retrieved 2016-11-07.
  18. ^ "2016 Final Top 9 MA Rankings | USA Memory Championship". Retrieved 2016-05-10.
  19. ^ List of USA Memory Champions
  20. ^ "IAM US Open 2016 | International Association of Memory Statistics". Retrieved 2016-11-07.
  21. ^ "International Memoriad Las Vegas-2016 Results | Memoriad". Retrieved 2016-11-29.
  22. ^ "IAM European Open 2016 | International Association of Memory Statistics". Retrieved 2016-12-06.
  23. ^ "World Memory Championships 2016 (Combined) | World Memory Championships". Retrieved 2017-01-02.
  24. ^ "International Association of Memory Statistics". Retrieved 2017-12-07.
  25. ^ "World Ranking | International Association of Memory Statistics". Retrieved 2017-12-07.
  26. ^ a b "World Records | International Association of Memory Statistics". Retrieved 2016-11-07.
  27. ^ "5 Minute Numbers Record | International Association of Memory Statistics". Retrieved 2016-11-07.
  28. ^ "Simon Reinhard is the 2016 Extreme Memory Champion! | Extreme Memory Tournament". Retrieved 2016-11-07.
  29. ^ "World Memory Championships Disciplines | World Memory Championships". Retrieved 2017-12-07.
  30. ^ "5 minute "Speed" Cards Record | International Association of Memory Statistics". Retrieved 2016-11-07.
  31. ^ "60 Minute/Hour Numbers Record | International Association of Memory Statistics". Retrieved 2016-11-26.
  32. ^ 最强大脑 第四季 2017 (2017-04-02), 《最强大脑 第四季 》20170331 妍佳VS余奕沛:挑战项目基因密码 - 2017.03.31, retrieved 2017-06-25
  33. ^ Andy Belt, "Magnificent memory means money for Oxford native Alex Mullen", in, June 29, 2017.
  34. ^ Ian Frisch, "Lessons from America's First Memory World Champion", in, May 18, 2016.
  35. ^ Helen Thomson, "The man who thinks like Sherlock Holmes", in, April 12, 2016.
  36. ^ Michael Nedelman, "Hack your brain to remember almost anything", in, March 09, 2017.
  37. ^ Devin Powell, "This man memorized a shuffled deck of cards in 18.65 seconds. Here’s how.", in, May 16, 2016.
  38. ^ Melanie Pinola, "Learn How to Memorize Information With This Video From a World Memory Champion", in, March 29, 2016.
  39. ^ Sanjay Gupta, "How to memorize a deck of cards under 17 seconds", in, June 22, 2017.
  40. ^ A. Pawlowski, "How to remember faces, names and more: Tips from the world memory champion", in, June 16, 2016.
  41. ^ Asha Leo, "LIVE: Meet World Memory Champion 2015 - Alex Mullen", in, October 17, 2016.
  42. ^ Tyler Daswick, "How to Build a Better Memory", in, August 7, 2017.
  43. ^ Daniel Lavelle, "How to avoid losing your memory in the digital age", in, November 13, 2018.

External links[edit]