Winner of hit show Squid Game: The Challenge will finally get $4.5 million prize after telling Netflix to ‘show me the money’ 10 months after rock, paper, scissor finale was filmed


The winner of hit show Squid Game: The Challenge will finally be awarded the $4.5 million prize 10 months after the rock, paper, scissor finale was filmed.  

Vietnamese immigrant Mai Whelan, 55, won fans over with her cunning and ruthless streak that saw her beat 455 other players.   

But 10 months after her victory, the show champion has yet to see a dime hit her bank account. 

Sources told TMZ that Mai signed a contract alongside all other contestants stating the jackpot would be disbursed 30 days after the finale aired. 

If Netflix complies with this timeline, Mai is set to become a millionaire on January 5, 2024 – 30 days after the final episode aired. 

Vietnamese immigrant Mai Whelan, 55, won fans over with her cunning and ruthless streak that saw her beat 455 other players

Vietnamese immigrant Mai Whelan, 55, won fans over with her cunning and ruthless streak that saw her beat 455 other players 

10 months after her victory, the show champion has yet to see a dime hit her bank account

10 months after her victory, the show champion has yet to see a dime hit her bank account

Sources told TMZ that Mai signed a contract alongside all other contestants that stated the jackpot would be disbursed 30 days after the finale aired

Sources told TMZ that Mai signed a contract alongside all other contestants that stated the jackpot would be disbursed 30 days after the finale aired 

‘Our contracts stated that the winner would receive the money – 30 days after the finale,’ Sam Kohn, who was player 188 on the show, also tweeted. 

Mai, who shared her dramatic story of escaping the communist regime in her homeland after the fall of Saigon, plans to spend her jackpot responsibly – on a retirement home, and donating to charity. 

Netflix did not confirm when they would release the funds, but did claim Mai will receive the money, since the last episode did air. 

It is still unclear whether she’ll receive the money as a lump sum or in increments. 

In the widely-panned finale, Whelan triumphed over scuba instructor Phill Cain, 27, after multiple rounds of rock, paper, scissor. 

The final shot of the entire series followed Mai walking up to an ATM and checking her balance to see $4.56 million waiting for her.

‘I feel like Tom Cruise in Jerry Maguire. Show me the money!,’ she told The Times in a call from New York after the last episode aired, confirming that she is still waiting to see the cash. 

Whelan told the newspaper she splashed out on a fancy hairdo, Ralph Lauren dress and Jimmy Choo shoes for a recent Netflix event. ‘I still have buyer’s remorse from that, but I think it’s well deserved,’ she said.

In another revelation, Whelan said that contracts signed by the participants forbid them from giving any winnings to other contestants. DailyMail.com has reached out to Netflix for comment.

Phillip Cain, Mai Whelan, Samuel Wells in fancy dress for the finale. If Netflix complies with this timeline, Mai is set to become a millionaire on January 5, 2024

Phillip Cain, Mai Whelan, Samuel Wells in fancy dress for the finale. If Netflix complies with this timeline, Mai is set to become a millionaire on January 5, 2024

And then there were three. The finale saw the 456 competitors whittled down to just three

And then there were three. The finale saw the 456 competitors whittled down to just three 

Viewers were fuming that the winner was left down to chance

Viewers were fuming that the winner was left down to chance

In the dull finale, the contestants played multiple rounds of rock, paper, scissors and would get the chance to unlock a safe with a key

In the dull finale, the contestants played multiple rounds of rock, paper, scissors and would get the chance to unlock a safe with a key

When she does get her money, Whelan says she will donate to causes she is passionate about, including the environment and also look into a retirement home away from where she lives in Fairfax, Virginia. 

The immigration adjudicator said she has two daughters, 36 and 34, with her husband, Jay, a former IBM and Accenture executive who now runs a consultancy business with his wife.

Speaking about her victory over Cain, who on the show talked about his life in Hawaii and wanting to no longer live paycheck to paycheck, Mai said it was more about experience then intelligence. 

‘I don’t think I’m smarter. I’m older than him and I’ve experienced things. It’s just knowledge… We played a fair game. He felt that I deserved to win because I beat him a lot at rock, paper, scissors!’

During the show, Whelan broke down when talking about fleeing Vietnam in 1975, nearly being shot at eight years old by an American soldier on an airfield. 

After moving to the US, settling in Pennsylvania, Whelan joined the US Navy at 19, becoming pregnant at the time. 

‘I was a virgin; I didn’t know anything. My family cut me off, it was very hard. I didn’t know anything about motherhood. I didn’t have anyone,’ she said. 

In a separate interview, Whelan said that her reason for joining the show was to win the money and help the causes she believes in. 

‘It’s good because I would like to express my cause, that’s the main reason why I joined the game, to help a cause, so now that I win I have a platform to tell the world to help the underprivileged.’

She said she plans to increase her support for charity Unbound with her winnings.

The winner scooped a $4.56million prize after unlocking the safe to a golden credit card

The winner scooped a $4.56million prize after unlocking the safe to a golden credit card

It was Mai who eventually found the right key to open the safe with the golden credit card

It was Mai who eventually found the right key to open the safe with the golden credit card

‘To educate kids and make sure the elderly are taken care of because when you’re in a poor country, you don’t have the necessity of medical care and kids don’t have education,’ Whelan said.

‘I will keep some for myself, I’m old and I want to retire soon, and so I want to make sure that my husband and I have enough to retire and also to help charity work.’

Whelan said the key to her success on the show was sticking to her guns ‘regardless of what they say about me.’

She said: ‘… Even though I felt alone, but at the same time, I stick to my guns and that’s my character, I want to have integrity, I don’t want to compromise that.

‘Their judgement does not have a hold on me, but it makes me paranoid and sometimes I expressed that verbally, that can make me at a disadvantage, but at the same time, if it’s my time to get eliminated, that’s my time to get eliminated, but I have to play smartly and just to breeze it through and respect people and not hold grudges but apologies if you do wrong.’

When asked how she was so good at reading her fellow competitors in the game, Ms Whelan put it down to taking her job in immigration ‘seriously’.

She also said she did not prepare for the game, other than watch the TV show again after she got accepted to play in the challenge, which she used to ‘learn and modify’ her strategy.

 The game show spin-off is based on the record-breaking Korean drama, including the same challenges without the deathly consequences of the original, with games such as Red Light, Green Light, Honeycombs and Hopscotch. 

New games were also added including ‘Warship’ – a version of the board game battleship, and ‘Circle of Trust’ – a variation of Heads Up Seven Up.

In the end just three players remained to battle it out for the huge prize: Player 016 Sam, Player 287 Mai, and Player 451 Phil.

Squid Game: The Challenge viewers have slammed the show's finale as 'boring' and 'lacklustre' after it was won over a game of rock, paper, scissors

Squid Game: The Challenge viewers have slammed the show’s finale as ‘boring’ and ‘lacklustre’ after it was won over a game of rock, paper, scissors 

But fans were left disappointed after who won the show was left down to chance, with the final result decided over a game of rock, paper, scissors.

Sam came third after he was eliminated after he pressed a button during a game of chance at the final three’s dinner.

The winner was then decided through multiple rounds of playing rock, paper, scissors.

If they won a round they would win access to a key, which they could then use to open a safe and have a chance of winning the prize.

In the end, it was Mai who managed to choose the correct key, which opened a safe and revealed a golden credit card.



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