Ahead of the Netflix competition show Squid Game: The Challenge auditioning contestants for their 10-episode series, the show boasted their $4.56 million cash prize. However, Squid Game winner Mai Whelan says she hasn't received a dime despite beating out 455 other players in February.
Opposing Whelan's perspective was a source close to the show's production, who told Vanity Fair that contestants were made aware of a payment plan and that Whelan would receive her winnings now that Squid Game has wrapped. Filmed in the UK, the show's finale aired on Dec. 6.
Whelan's been modest in her spending since earning the title of the inaugural Squid Game winner, revealing to The Sunday Times that her most expensive purchases have been a haircut, a Ralph Lauren dress and Jimmy Choo shoes, which she wore to a Squid Game gala. “I still have buyer’s remorse from that, but I think it’s well deserved,” she told the outlet.
"Well deserved" is right, considering that Whelan and the remainder of the contestants had a grueling time during the show's first season. “I didn’t expect it to be so stressful,” Whelan added. “It takes a lot out of you, that game. To beat out 455 players was a very emotional moment for me.
During filming, controversial reports surfaced about the Netflix show's ethics, from sources claiming to Rolling Stone that the production was "rigged" and one player telling Entertainment Weekly that participants were forced to use condom lubricant as a lip balm substitute.