Treasure hunt 'round the world! (prologue)

It's here. Finally here. For weeks you've waited, checking the mail every single day, to no avail - but today, your invitation has finally arrived. You eagerly tear open the envelope and read:

Congratulations, [insert username here]! You have been selected as a member of this year's Treasure Hunt 'Round the World! Or at least, you're a preliminary member -- of course, we have to weed out the doers from the dreamers, and that's what this first challenge is for. Please solve it, and write us back at [redacted] with the answer attached. Then and only then will you receive your true invitation to the games.

Yours truly,

Bailey M
Puzzlemaster for the Treasure Hunt 'Round the World

At last, you can begin the puzzling experience of a lifetime! Excitedly, you flip over the card and read:

$$? = \frac{303116229854873}{31}$$

We've given you the answer... but what's the question?

The story continues in the next part, Treasure hunt 'round the world! (clue 1)

This is no longer being treated as a semi-interactive puzzle. Rather, it will be a linked-puzzle treasure hunt, which each clue being its own puzzle.

• "How many months have you been waiting for this day?" - Too many.. Commented Jun 17, 2015 at 18:18
• Well just to save someone the trouble, the number there isn't prime. Its two factors (971 and 312169134763), however, are. Commented Jun 17, 2015 at 18:54
• I'm considering abandoning the "semi-interactive puzzle" tag and making each part of the Treasure Hunt 'Round the World its own question; I'm torn, because it means that I can't easily tie information from previous steps back in with the current step, but ultimately I think that Eli deserves a "correct answer" stamp for his awesome work on this puzzle. Any opinions from the peanut gallery? Commented Jun 18, 2015 at 13:12
• @BaileyM Without seeing the rest of the story, I probably agree with abandoning the tag. Commented Jun 18, 2015 at 15:48
• @LeppyR64 the mess of answers is probably the biggest reason, actually. With 4 answers on this prologue alone, I didn't feel it was wise for all the other answers to the larger parts to be attached to this question as well. Commented Jun 18, 2015 at 15:53

convert 303116229854873 to Base-31, we get BECAUSE789.

The question is

Why was 6 afraid of 7?

Because 7 ate 9

• Dayum that's clever. Commented Jun 18, 2015 at 7:58
• Why was 6 afraid of 7? Because 7 was a registered six offender. [Note: works best when said in a New Zealand accent.] Commented Jun 18, 2015 at 15:38

Perhaps I'm thinking too laterally, but it seems like the question is:

"What's the question?"

Or to interpret it slightly differently, but in the same spirit:

The question is "What?"

Maybe a coincidence:

31 digits in base 3
1110202020121222020012020221222

Please tell me its as easy as:

303116229854873 / 31 = 9777942898544.29

• As legitimate as that answer is, I fear that if you respond to the Puzzlemaster with '9777942898544.29' as your answer, you will not be invited back to participate in the actual Treasure Hunt... Commented Jun 17, 2015 at 20:29
• OK, good to know. I just wanted to rule it out. Commented Jun 17, 2015 at 21:48