Squid Game: The Challenge has crowned its winner - here's how they spent the money

The final was *intense*

Squid Game: The Challenge finalists
(Image credit: Netflix)

Finally, the moment we were all waiting for arrived - the winner of Squid Game: The Challenge was decided. 456 contestants were whittled down to just three in what can only be described as a nail-biting battle of wits, all against the backdrop of some super creepy children's games reminiscent of the original Korean drama. 

The final episode of Squid Game: The Challenge is now available on Netflix (it landed on Thursday 7th December) and sees players Mai, Phill and Sam compete to win a huge $4.56 million - the biggest ever cash prize in gameshow history. 

Who won Squid Game: The Challenge?

Squid Game: The Challenge Mai Whelan

(Image credit: Netflix)

Mai Whelan became the first-ever winner of Squid Game: The Challenge. She beat runner-up Phill in a game of Rock, Paper, Scissors, where the two contestants fought it out for access to a safe containing a golden bank card loaded with cash. After a tense game, Mai found the right key to unlock the safe that housed the $4.56 million cash prize. Intense. 

Talking of big win (via Netflix), she said that due to her unassuming nature 'people will think it couldn’t possibly be me'.

Since winning the game, life hasn't changed too drastically for Mai, who is now back home in Virginia, US with her husband and their two dogs, spending some quality time with her 12-year-old granddaughter. 

"It was a relief to go back to normal life and not worry about getting eliminated. I needed that after two and a half weeks of intense go, go, go, and emotional ups and downs," she told Netflix. "But the person that came into [the competition] is me. I’m still Mai, and she hasn't changed - except that I came out stronger."

How has Mai spent her winnings?

Mai is reportedly using her winnings to renovate her home in Virginia and build a small dock for a boat in her backyard, continuing to live a quiet life at home with her family. However, she splashed out on one big purchase after the big win - a beaded, black velvet Ralph Lauren gown, which she'll wear during the press tour for Squid Game: The Challenge

"I couldn’t help it," Mai told Netflix. "But that’s about as frivolous as I want to go."

As well as her house renovations, Mai also wants to use her money to benefit the greater good. "My heart is with people, animals, and climate change. If we continue what we’re doing, there won’t be a future for all the little kids growing up right now."

Well said, Mai. 

Watch this space for news of Squid Game: The Challenge series two...

Lauren is the former Deputy Digital Editor at woman&home and became a journalist mainly because she enjoys being nosy. With a background in features journalism, Lauren has bylines in publications such as Marie Claire UK, Red Magazine, House of Coco, women&home, GoodTo, Woman's Own and Woman magazine.


She started writing for national papers and magazines at Medavia news agency, before landing a job in London working as a lifestyle assistant and covers everything from fashion and celebrity style to beauty and careers.