Now Reading
Who Is Mai Whelan, the First-Ever Winner of Squid Recreation: The Problem?

Who Is Mai Whelan, the First-Ever Winner of Squid Recreation: The Problem?

The first season of Squid Game: The Challenge was won by a Vietnam-born Virginia resident on 6 December. Mai Whelan, the first-ever winner of the show, took home USD 4.56 million, setting the record for the biggest cash prize money ever won in reality TV history.

The reality show is based on the immensely popular Squid Game, which is a South Korean TV series about a group of helpless people forced to compete in deadly games to win a prize money of KRW 45.6 billion prize.

Like the fictional show, the reality TV version, which was filmed at London’s Wharf Studios, also featured 456 contestants who competed in a series of complex games including intense ones such as Red Light, Green Light inspired from the South Korean show and new ones such as life-size game of Battleship.

Thankfully, unlike the South Korean series directed by Hwang Dong-hyuk, the reality TV show had no ‘deadly’ angle.

All about the Squid Game: The Challenge winner

Who is Mai Whelan and how much money will she take home?

Mai Whelan
Image credit: NIC SERPELL-RAND/Netflix

Mai Whelan, who was contestant No.287, beat two other finalists, Sam Lantz (No.016) and Phill Cain (No.451), in a tight finale round.

Whelan is a 55-year-old immigration adjudicator and US Navy veteran, who was born in Vietnam and arrived in the US as a refugee. Florida’s Lantz is a 37-year-old artist while Brazil-born Hawaii resident Cain is a 27-year-old scuba instructor.

Esquire reports that she was just eight years old during the Fall of Saigon in 1975, when her family left the Southeast Asian country. She has said that she barely escaped a soldier who saw her move in a killing field.

“Of all the things that life throws at you, I’ve been down to the bottom of the pit,” she reportedly said in episode six of the show. “My family does not trust me, in my decisions… being in the military, or be a single parent at 19. It’s hard, because I have nobody.”

Marca reports that even though she has technically won USD 4.56 million, the money she will eventually be left with is much less.

This is because even though the show was filmed in tax haven UK, Whelan is subject to US taxation system due to being an American citizen. Marca calculated that she will, therefore, be left with only around USD 2.8 million after applicable US tax deductions.

Reality show renewed for season 2

According to Netflix, the reality show was No.1 on the streaming giant’s Top 10 English TV list for the weeks of the 20th and 27th. It was also among the Top 10 in charts across 93 countries.

Due to the massive popularity of the reality show, the makers have now renewed it for a second season. The decision to renew the show was taken just before the season finale.

Speaking about the series renewal, Brandon Riegg, Netflix VP of Nonfiction Series, said, “There was no red light in our decision to greenlight season 2.”

“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,” Riegg added.

Casting for season 2 has already started and those interested can apply on the official site. According to the official info, the second season will also have 456 players battling it out for USD 4.56 million.

(Hero and Featured images: Pete Dadds/Netflix)

This story first appeared on Lifestyle Asia. 

Frequently Asked Questions

– Is Squid Game reality show season 2 happening?

See Also

Yes, it has been renewed for season 2.

– Will there be Squid Game season 2?

Yes, the original South Korean survival horror series will have a season 2.

– Is Squid Game: The Challenge real?

Yes, it is a reality show where contestants compete in complex games to win a massive cash prize money of USD 4.56 million.

– Who won the first season of the reality show in 2023?

Mai Whelan, a Vietnam-born US immigration adjudicator won the first season of the reality show.

Source: Prestige Online

View Comments (0)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Copyright © MetaMedia™ Capital Inc, All right reserved

Scroll To Top