Mai Whelan, the winner of Squid Game: The Challenge, has yet to receive a penny of her historic $4.56 million cash prize for winning the reality competition based on Netflix's Squid Game. The 55-year-old immigration adjudicator won the prize back in February when she outlasted 455 competitors, but the finale just aired on Netflix this week.
“I feel like Tom Cruise in Jerry Maguire,” she told The Times. “Show me the money!”
As reported by Variety, Squid Game: The Challenge‘s description reads, “Though the reality version of Squid Game isn’t a matter of life or death, there’s still a lot on the line. Four hundred fifty-six players will compete to win $4.56 million, the largest cash prize in reality television history. Through a series of games, each player will be pushed to their limits and forced to ask themselves just how far they’ll go to win, with opportunistic alliances, cutthroat strategies and timely betrayals to follow.”
People reports, “Addressing Whelan’s claim of a 10-month delay in receiving the payday, a source close to production tells People that the winner of the show was aware of the payment plan and is set to receive the prize fund now that the show’s season one finale has aired.”
Squid Game: The Challenge Winner Mai Whelan Still Splurged on a Few Items in Anticipation of Her Payday
Although her $4.56 million hasn't arrived yet, Mai Whelan still splurged on a few items. According to People, she got a short haircut and bought a Ralph Lauren dress and some Jimmy Choo shoes.
“I still have buyer’s remorse from that, but I think it’s well-deserved,” said Whelan, who also said she is looking into a retirement home somewhere. “We don’t know where yet, and we are happy with where we are,” she added. “We live on the water. It’s very peaceful.”
Whelan told Entertainment Tonight that there are some charitable causes to which she would like to contribute. She said:
“I have charitable causes I wanna contribute more to,” including “sponsoring kids receiving education and helping the elderly with their basic needs and health care. And also the wildlife and the climate.
“I think those are very important to how we see the world so that way we can live in it and enjoy it for everybody, not just us at the present moment.”
Netflix has already renewed Squid Game: The Challenge for season two. Brandon Riegg, Netflix VP of Nonfiction Series, said in a statement: “There was no red light in our decision to green-light season two of Squid Game: The Challenge, the most ambitious unscripted show we've premiered at Netflix. We're so excited to continue the franchise of Squid Game with our team in Korea, and producers at Studio Lambert and the Garden for this epic competition series.”
Squid Game: The Challenge’ winner Mai Whelan says she hasn't received the $4.56M prize from Netflix even though filming finished in February. 👀 pic.twitter.com/nOG4W86nbE
— Daily Loud (@DailyLoud) December 8, 2023
— The Tonight Show (@FallonTonight) December 8, 2023
'Squid Game: The Challenge' Player 287/Mai Whelan breaks down her 'dominating' performance all season, her beef with Player 278/Ashley Tolbert, what fans didn't see in the finale, and more. https://t.co/KOwdZkbUPL
— Entertainment Weekly (@EW) December 7, 2023
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All 10 episodes of Squid Game: The Challenge are available on Netflix.