Former 'Squid Game: The Challenge' Players Claim the Competition Was Rigged

Allison DeGrushe - Author

Nov. 29 2023, Updated 12:27 p.m. ET

'Squid Game: The Challenge' players gather in the dormitory.
Source: Netflix

The Gist:

  • Squid Game: The Challenge is a reality competition series based on the South Korean show Squid Game.
  • The ten-episode series sees 456 players compete to win a cash prize of $4.56 million.
  • Although the deaths are fake, Squid Game: The Challenge is very much real.
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Get ready for the mother of all reality showdowns: Squid Game: The Challenge! It's the competition series you've been dreaming of, inspired by the hit South Korean survival drama that unexpectedly took the world by storm.

In this epic 10-episode spectacle, 456 players — whispered to be the biggest cast ever in reality TV lore — battle it out for the jaw-dropping jackpot of $4.56 million. It's not just a cash prize; it's the largest single pile of money in reality TV and game show history! With all that said, some fans are side-eyeing the show, wondering if it's too good to be true.

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The square masked guards in 'Squid Game: The Challenge'
Source: Netflix

So, is 'Squid Game: The Challenge' real?

Unlike the nail-biting original drama, Squid Game: The Challenge isn't a matter of life or death. When players get the boot, there's no trip to the great beyond. Instead, they get drenched in black ink (courtesy of a squib under their shirts) and drop to the ground — not long after, they get up and leave the game without so much as a scratch.

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Plus, the producers swore up and down that the show was as real as it gets. They even insisted they were in the dark about who would ultimately win the competition. But hold on to your popcorn because a few ex-players hinted that Squid Game: The Challenge might be more scripted than viewers think.

Contestants playing Warships in 'Squid Game: The Challenge'
Source: Netflix
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In February 2023, a bunch of former players told Rolling Stone that not only were the games allegedly rigged, but word on the street is that some contestants were handpicked in advance to waltz into the next rounds.

"It was just the cruelest, meanest thing I've ever been through,” one former contestant told the outlet. "We were a human horse race, and they were treating us like horses out in the cold racing, and [the race] was fixed."

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These contestants told Rolling Stone about a "38-second massacre," when several players dashed across the "Red Light, Green Light" finish line with time to spare, thinking they aced it and were onto the next round.

But wait for it — as the group waited for producers to look over the footage and drone shots, their blood squib packs detonated out of the blue. Despite their epic dash to victory, they were eliminated from the competition. "They went crazy," one player recalled of the situation.

'Squid Game: The Challenge' elimination wall.
Source: Netflix
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In a statement to The New York Times, Netflix vehemently denied that any rigging or preselections occurred in the reality competition series. A spokesman stated, "All eliminations in the series were approved by our independent adjudicators, who were on set at all times to ensure fairness of all games."

The discussion about the show's legitimacy and safety doesn't stop there.

After the glass bridge episodes aired, executive producers John Hay and Stephen Lambert shared some behind-the-scenes details with Entertainment Weekly. According to them, stunt doubles were used to protect the safety of players who were supposed to "fall through" glass tiles.

However, according to John Hay, the players' reactions to stepping on a faulty tile were the real thing.

He shared with the outlet, "And then, at the last minute, we swapped them out, and a stunt person did the fall."

Watch Squid Game: The Challenge on Netflix.

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