'Squid Game: The Challenge' crowns $4.56 million winner — and wins a second season on Netflix

Squid Game: The Challenge. Episode 110 of Squid Game: The Challenge. Cr. Courtesy of Netflix © 2023
(Image credit: Netflix)

Squid Game: The Challenge officially has its big winner. So if you don’t want to be spoiled — red light.

Netflix launched the reality show version of its international hit Squid Game on November 22, releasing it in three batches. Squid Game: The Challenge took 456 real people and put them in a combination of new challenges and recreations of iconic games from the original Netflix TV show. The first five episodes dropped on November 22 and the next four episodes dropped the following week on November 29. That left us with just one final episode, which released last night (December 6).

And after 10 episodes our winner is Mai Whelan, known to viewers as number 287. She took home the massive $4.56 million prize after a game of “rock, paper, scissors” that had higher stakes than probably any game of “rock paper scissors” played in human history. Granted, in the show Squid Game, the stakes are death, but that’s a fictional TV show. Whelan’s $4.56 million is very real. 

Netflix wins with ‘Squid Games: The Challenge’ 

Squid Game

(Image credit: Youngkyu Park)

The real winner here though is Netflix. Squid Game: The Challenge season 1 debuted at the number 1 spot in the Global Top 10 for Netflix, garnering 85.7 million hours viewed from over 20 million views in its first week. And the second week was nearly as successful, with 85 million hours viewed across 11.4 million views. 

That’s a major success for the streaming service no matter how you look at it. So unsurprisingly, Netflix announced that season 2 of Squid Game: The Challenge was official just before last night’s season 1 finale. 

Frankly, critical study of reality TV is typically beside the point. So if people had fun with Squid Game: The Challenge — and with an 82% “fresh” audience score they certainly did — then who am I to rain on their parade?

Critically, the show wasn’t quite so successful. Critics panned it on Rotten Tomatoes rating it only 45% “fresh” and giving it a score of 5.7 out of 10. I’ll be honest though, as someone who watched a bit of this show and did not care for it or think it was necessary, critical thought regarding this show is beside the point. Frankly, critical study of reality TV is typically beside the point. So if people had fun with Squid Game: The Challenge — and with an 82% “fresh” audience score they certainly did — then who am I to rain on their parade?

Netflix already has a stable of reliable original content, including several successful reality TV shows such as Too Hot to Handle and The Circle. So the stakes for Squid Game: The Challenge wasn’t exactly life or death. But manufacturing a successful reality TV show from one of its existing series is a massive success given that it now builds a world of intellectual property that can be further mined for content, which Netflix is already doing by greenlighting second seasons of both the reality show and TV drama versions of Squid Game. 

My vote for further Squid Game content? A prequel movie about the creation of the first (fictional) Squid Game. I think that done right it could be more than just an IP cash — or subscriber — grab.

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Malcolm McMillan
Senior Streaming Writer

Malcolm McMillan is a senior writer for Tom's Guide, covering all the latest in streaming TV shows and movies. That means news, analysis, recommendations, reviews and more for just about anything you can watch, including sports! If it can be seen on a screen, he can write about it. Previously, Malcolm had been a staff writer for Tom's Guide for over a year, with a focus on artificial intelligence (AI), A/V tech and VR headsets.

Before writing for Tom's Guide, Malcolm worked as a fantasy football analyst writing for several sites and also had a brief stint working for Microsoft selling laptops, Xbox products and even the ill-fated Windows phone. He is passionate about video games and sports, though both cause him to yell at the TV frequently. He proudly sports many tattoos, including an Arsenal tattoo, in honor of the team that causes him to yell at the TV the most.