Spoiler alert: This article contains spoilers for Episode 9 of Squid Game: The Challenge.
A whopping 456 players entered Squid Game: The Challenge, but only one will emerge victorious. With a $4.56 million jackpot — the largest cast and single cash prize in game show history — on the line, the contestants have fought vehemently for their chance at taking home the crown (and the life-changing grand prize).
Through a series of grueling challenges and childhood games, the players have been pushed to their limits mentally, physically, and emotionally — but only three have triumphed. Ahead of the epic final showdown, let's get to know the final three players before one of their lives undoubtedly changes forever.
Player 016 — Sam
Despite his towering height, Sam Lantz (aka Player 016) successfully kept a low profile for most of the game. Having grown up as a young gay boy in a "very religious family," Sam felt confident in his ability to keep his true intentions hidden, a strategy he effectively employed in the initial stages of the competition.
The 37-year-old artist has stayed true to himself, playing the game "in a way that I'd be proud of and [also in line with] how I'd act in the outside world." In Episode 9, he told Mai (Player 287), "As long as we keep our eye on our hearts and our humanity because we all have that good core."
If he wins, Sam envisions acquiring a large art studio for his work. Additionally, he intends to help his husband with his film projects, contribute to animal rescue and protection efforts, and make wise investments for the future.
Player 287 — Mai
Vietnam-born Mai Whelan (Player 287) arrived in the United States as a refugee at just 8 years old. Since then, she has drawn strength from her challenging past, navigating through the realms of single parenthood, a 20-year career in the Navy, and now, a once-in-a-lifetime competition.
Throughout the anxiety-inducing competition, Mai made plenty of friends and encountered a handful of rivals — but she outlasted all of them. Should she emerge as the winner of Squid Game: The Challenge, Mai dreams of purchasing a house to spend her retirement and donating to causes close to her heart.
Player 451 — Phill
The third and final player remaining in the game is none other than Phill Cain (Player 451). The scuba instructor, who relocated from his native Brazil to the United States in middle school, entered the competition without a set strategy in place. Phill said, "I'm kind of going in blind. I really just have no idea how this is going to go."
Despite navigating the intense and high-stakes environment on the fly, Phill successfully outplayed the majority of the contestants throughout a series of familiar challenges and games. If Phill comes out on top, he plans on giving away a significant amount of the prize money to his family and friends.
Watch Squid Game: The Challenge on Netflix.