Everything About the First Winner of Squid Game: The Challenge: Mai Whelan Who Was Born in Vietnam


From Refugee to Champion: Mai Whelan’s Inspiring Victory in Squid Game: The Challenge

Netflix’s Squid Game: The Challenge was a gripping competition that pushed 456 participants to their limits, including one from Singapore.

The ultimate goal was to secure the whopping $4.56 million cash prize, and only one contestant, Mai Whelan, emerged victorious.

Source: netlix.com

Mai Whelan, who was player number 287, triumphed over two other finalists: Sam Lanyz (Player 16) and Phill Cain (Player 451) in the finale.

The reality show was filmed at London’s Wharf Studios and featured games such as Red Light, Green Light inspired by the South Korean sensation, Squid Game, without the life-threatening consequences for losing participants.

Mai Wheelan’s Netflix’s profile paints her as someone who loves gardening, traveling, and dreams of finding a home to enjoy her retirement. However, there is much more to her story than meets the eye.

Mai Whelan’s Remarkable Journey as a US Refugee

Born in Vietnam, Mai Whelan left her homeland at the tender age of eight and arrived in the United States in 1975 as a refugee, following the fall of Saigon.

She vividly recalls a near-death experience when a soldier spotted her moving in a killing field, a moment that made her acutely aware of the fragility and preciousness of life.

She became a single mother at the age of 19 and later went on to serve in the US Navy, for over two decades. Hailing from Virginia, she built a career as an immigration adjudicator for the Department of Homeland Security and now cherishes her role as a grandmother, sharing a close bond with her granddaughter.

Mai Whelan, at 55 years old, defied expectations as one of the older participants in the game. She proudly acknowledges that her status as a woman, a minority, and an older contestant made her victory even more meaningful.

Did She Receive the Entire Cash Prize?

Marca reports that while the show was filmed in the UK, known as a tax haven, US residents still are bound by US tax regulations. This means that Mai will receive approximately USD$2.8728 million dollars after US tax deductions. If she was a UK resident, she could have claimed the full amount but this aspect remains beyond her control.

Nonetheless, USD$2.8 million dollars is, without a question, a substantial amount of money. Mai reportedly plans to renovate her home, and build a small dock for a boat, making the most of her winnings.


Squid Game: The Challenge Renews for Season 2

Given its popularity, it is unsurprising that Squid Game: The Challenge has been greenlit to shoot another season. This exciting announcement came just before the conclusion of the first season.

For those who are confident in their abilities and dream of winning USD$4.56 million, the opportunity awaits. Casting calls for season two have already commenced on the official website, promising another thrilling round of challenges and unforgettable moments.