Meet Luis, the 5-Year-Old Math Wiz from ‘Little Big Shots’


Did you read that whole number, or did you skip over it? While most people would skip or skim it, 5-year-old Luis Esquivel, Jr. digests it and can read it aloud by place value.

While most of us need a calculator just to figure out how to tip at a restaurant, Luis Jr. calculates the square of 162 in his head.

Luis Jr. and his father flew all the way from Wahiawa, Hawaii and joined Steve Harvey on NBC’s new show “Little Big Shots” last week. His segment has been viewed over 54 million times.

He showed the world that he can double any number you ask him, or even find its square. The most shocking part? He does it all in his head — no pencil or calculator needed.

If you haven’t seen it already, here’s Luis Jr. on “Little Big Shots.”



In a phone interview with NBC Latino, and with the help of his parents Luis and Keisha Esquivel, Luis Jr. said he had fun on the show. He said next time he is on TV he hopes to play a “subtracting game” along with the “doubling game.”

When asked if he thought Harvey was good at math, Luis giggled then said, “no.”

During the interview, the elder asked his son a number of questions. Luis Jr. knew the atomic number of oxygen and hydrogen, and also that they made up water molecules. He knew the name of the heaviest element on the periodic table: Ununoctium, which has 118 protons.

“He knows the whole periodic table, and he knows the atomic numbers for all of the elements,” Esquivel said. “He can name every state and also every country in the world. He knows the planets, the name of the third-closest star to our solar system and the speed of light in miles and kilometers.”

Esquivel said he and his wife noticed in July of last year that Luis Jr. has a special knack for retaining information.

“I always say the most important thing is that the love of knowledge and learning is what makes things stick in your head, and he has always had that,” Esquivel said.

On top of memorizing facts, figures and new mathematical concepts, Luis Jr. spends his time playing on his iPad or expending his childhood energy on a trampoline outside.

“Lately, he has been wanting to play chess a lot,” Esquivel said. “He knows the game, he knows the rules, and he is learning the strategy.” He joked it may not be too long before Luis Jr. starts winning chess games with his dad.

“I am tired of doing math because it is a long time,” Luis Jr. said.

Esquivel and his wife work to nurture Luis Jr.’s interests, but they worry that pushing him may discourage his inherent curiosity.

“After the show a lot of people have come up to him and asked him questions,” Luis Sr. said. “It’s why we don’t want to put him in a special class and push him. It has gotten to the point where people want to stop him and ask him questions, and it makes him pull back a bit. That is the last thing I want.”

Esquivel’s main concern is that if he and his wife put their son in accelerated programs, he may not have the childhood he deserves.

“People ask what we plan to do, but honestly, I just want him to have a childhood,” Esquivel said. “We want to nurture his interest, but we don’t want to push him because we would hate for him to lose the love of learning. We don’t want him to lose socialization from being around kids his age.”

“He’s 5 years old, and we don’t want to overwhelm him,” Esquivel said. “He pushes himself harder than anyone else pushes him, and I don’t think he needs any extra pushing right now.”

Leave a Reply