‘Squid Game: The Challenge’ Season 1 Finale: And the Winner Is…

Sam Wells (Player 016), Mai Whelan (Player 287) and Phill Cain (Player 451) battle it out in the Netflix competition’s final game

Squid Game: The Challenge
Guard on Episode 107 of "Squid Game: The Challenge" (Photo Credit: Netflix)

Note: This story contains spoilers from the “Squid Game: The Challenge” Season 1 finale.

After 10 episodes and three weeks, Netflix revealed the winner of its reality take on “Squid Game” during Wednesday’s Season 1 finale.

Much like the South Korean Netflix drama it’s based on, “Squid Game: The Challenge” pitted 456 contestants against each other all in the hopes of walking away with $4.56 million. Most of the trials and tests players had to endure were taken right out of  Hwang Dong-hyuk’s wild and twisted world. But baked into the mix were new challenges unique to this competition that remained in line with the franchise where losing children’s games means elimination.

Ahead of the final episode, Sam Wells (Player 016), Mai Whelan (Player 287) and Phill Cain (Player 451) resulted as the three finalists competing for the record-breaking prize.

Here’s what you need to know about who won “Squid Game” and what happened.

Who won “Squid Game: The Challenge”?

The ultimate winner of “Squid Game: The Challenge” was Mai Whelan.

After a feast kicked off the finale, the top three players participated in a test of chance to decide which two would go into the last game. Though Mai was the first player to participate in the test, her selection didn’t result in an elimination or advancement. Sam was second to participate, and his selection led to elimination — leaving Mai and Phill to compete for the big prize.

The winner was decided with a game of “Rock, Paper, Scissors.” The winner of each round got to pick from a collection of keys: if the key didn’t work they played one more round until they unlocked a safe that gave them the big win. After countless rounds, Mai secured the prize.

Episode 7 of "Squid Game: The Challenge" Season 1 (Netflix)
Mai Whelan in “Squid Game: The Challenge” Season 1 (Netflix)

Earlier in the game, Mai said that she planned to put the money toward her retirement home. She plans to donate the remaining winnings to charities and causes she cares about.

Who were the final three on “Squid Game: The Challenge”?

Episode 9 of the series ended with only three remaining players: Sam, Mai and Phill. But their path to the final three was anything but painless.

Sam, Mai and Phill were the final survivors of a game exclusive to “The Challenge” called Circle of Trust. The nine players who were eligible were all blindfolded and placed behind desks that were arranged in a circle around a table with a gift box on it. In a spin on “Heads Up, Seven Up,” guards walked around the players and strategically tapped the contestant who would be responsible for removing their blindfold and placing the box on another player’s desk. The player with the box would then have to guess who gave them the box. Guess correctly, and that player was eliminated. But if they guessed wrong, the player who had been cursed with the box would be sent home.

Phill proved to be the master of this particular game. Though a box was placed on his desk on two separate occasions, he was able to correctly guess who placed it both times, thereby eliminating No. 51 Rose and No. 278 Ashley. Whether by luck or his personality, Sam managed to avoid all aspects of this game. He was never selected to place the gift box on another player’s desk and never had the box placed on his desk. That left Mai.

Following her choice to nominate Ashley during the die game instead of herself, Mai entered Circle of Trust as the game’s most controversial figure. Yet she still managed to walk away from the challenge and into the top three. No. 355 Hallie believed that Mai had placed the gift box on her desk when in reality Phill was the one who did it. Ultimately, Hallie was eliminated.

The first season of “Squid Game: The Challenge” is available to stream on Netflix. The show has already been renewed for Season 2.


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