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7 December 2023, 09:25 | Updated: 7 December 2023, 12:23
Mai Whelan (aka player 287) won Squid Game: The Challenge. But who is she? What is her job and where is she now? Here's everything you need to know about the winner.
At 55 years old Mai has watched her younger counterparts be eliminated from the show as she and her fellow finalists have reigned triumphant in every game so far. This means she's succeeded in high intensity games such as the glass bridge and 'Red light, Green Light'.
Originally from Vietnam, Mai opened up about her experience of being a refugee in episode nine of the show. She explained that the experience had influenced her "self-preservation" style of gameplay.
Here's everything we know about Squid Game's Mai and where she is now after filming has ended.
Mai, who is player 287 on the show, is 55 years old and lives in the U.S. state of Virginia.
She was born in Vietnam but left during its fall in 1975 - at just eight years old. In Squid Game: The Challenge she details the trauma she went though when escaping Vietnam.
Mai explained that at the airfield she and her family escaped to, a soldier held them at gunpoint. "And in that split second, my life was almost over," she said.
She went on: "That is a moment where I would never, never forget. And that moment is a driving moment for me to be strong."
Mai works as an immigration adjudicator but before this role she spent time in the US Navy.
Outside of work, the player is an avid gardener and traveler, according to her Netflix bio. She hopes to spend the massive show winnings on a retirement home.
In the season finale of the show she opened up about the time she had spent working in the Navy. She said: “Going to the navy, it’s like going to a pack of wolves where I was bullied. I got pregnant at 19 because I was a virgin up until I joined the navy and I didn’t know anything.
“To get pregnant at 19 was very hard because I had to tell my family that I got pregnant. And then my family just cut me off and I had no one. It was very hard. I didn’t know anything about motherhood. I didn’t have anyone.”
After hearing her story of falling pregnant at 19 years old, many fans deemed Mai a worthy winner of the show. One fan wrote online: “Mai’s story was so sad. She deserved to win after everything she’s been through. That’s enough money for the rest of her life damn.”
Unlike the other two finalists, Mai has a very minimal digital footprint. She has no active social media pages, so we don't know what she's up to since leaving the show.
But as the winner of that $4.56 million prize, we're hoping she's retired and spending her days in a wonderful new home.
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