- Squid Game: The Challenge sees 456 players compete to win a cash prize of $4.56 million.
- The reality competition series was filmed in the UK, where prize money is exempt from taxes.
- If the winner hails from another country, they may be subject to taxes imposed by their home nation.
After just nine episodes, Squid Game: The Challenge crowned its first-ever winner! This champion, who we now know is Mai Whelan, not only strutted away with some serious bragging rights, but also pocketed a whopping $4.56 million — the largest single cash prize in reality television and game show history.
Now, let's talk about money! After taxes, what's the scoop on how much cash the Squid Game: The Challenge winner stuffs into her pockets? Stick around, because we have all the answers you're looking for.
How is the 'Squid Game: The Challenge' winner's prize taxed?
For those unaware, Squid Game: The Challenge was filmed in the United Kingdom, where prize winnings are exempt from taxes. But here's the twist — if the winner in any given season hails from another country, say the United States, they're not entirely off the hook.
As it turns out, the Land of the Free overlords cast their wide net over global income, including those massive game show winnings. So, even though the U.K. is giving them a tax pass, an American victor has to cough up a decent amount of their earnings. That means Mai, for the inaugural season of the reality competition show.
According to Turbo Tax, snagging $1,000 in a drawing means you're a cash prize winner. Now, cash prizes aren't just confined to lucky draws — you could win cash prizes in a sweepstakes, a game show, or on a reality TV competition like Squid Game: The Challenge. So, whether you're making it rain or flaunting a lone dollar bill, you must include all prize earnings as income on your tax return.
The amount of tax the Squid Game: The Challenge winners pay depends on where they live and how much cash they take home. Turbo Tax noted that opting for a lump sum payout, especially for a substantial jackpot (like $4.56 million), could place them in the highest tax bracket, resulting in a minimum tax obligation of 37 percent owed to the IRS.
'Squid Game: The Challenge's first winner didn't get her prize money right away.
The first season of Squid Game: The Challenge filmed in early 2023. But, Mai shared with The Times in December 2023, she still hadn't received her payment from Netflix. Luckily, according to a show source who People spoke with, there is reportedly a payment plan in place for one month after the finale airs.
Chances are, that will be the case for any future seasons as well.
Watch Squid Game: The Challenge on Netflix.