Winner of Netflix’s Squid Game uses jackpot to take care of underprivileged

Mai Whelan attends Netflix’s Squid Game: The Challenge finale (CJ Rivera/Invision/AP/PA)
Mai Whelan attends Netflix’s Squid Game: The Challenge finale (CJ Rivera/Invision/AP/PA)

The winner of reality competition Squid Game: The Challenge said she wants to use the multi-million dollar jackpot to help educate children and take care of the elderly.

Mai Whelan scooped the 4.56 million US dollar (£3.61 million) reward during the finale of the Netflix series, based on the hit Korean dystopian thriller, beating finalists Sam Lantz and Phill Cain.

She was one of 456 initial players wearing green tracksuits, competing in various challenges in a bid to win the prize – including the first game seen in the hit TV series with a giant doll.

Netflix’s “Squid Game: The Challenge” Finale Watch Party
Sam Lantz, from left, Mai Whelan and Phill Cain attend Netflix’s Squid Game: The Challenge finale (CJ Rivera/Invision/AP/PA)

On her win, Ms Whelan told the PA news agency: “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.

“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,” Ms 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.”

Ms 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 apologise 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 competition has been renewed by Netflix for a second season.