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'Squid Game: The Challenge' finalist says he played true to himself

Sam Lantz, a 37-year-old from Florida, was one of three finalists in the competition show that was based on the South Korean series "Squid Game."
'Squid Game: The Challenge' finalist says he played true to himself
Posted at 11:19 AM, Dec 11, 2023

While battling 456 other contestants on Netflix’s “Squid Game: The Challenge,” Sam Lantz said he wanted to play in a way he could be proud of. 

Lantz, a 37-year-old from Florida, was one of three finalists in the competition show that was based on the South Korean series “Squid Game.”

In the reality competition, contestants went through similar challenges the fictional characters did in the show – but without the deaths. The winner received one of the largest grand prizes in reality TV history, a lump sum of $4.56 million. 

Lantz spoke with Scripps News "Morning Rush" Hosts Alex Livingston and Rob Nelson on Monday about the competition. 

Despite being a huge fan of the original show, it was a friend who suggested he apply to compete in the series, Lantz said. The application process included questions about who he was as a person and what phobias he might have. 

He said he was nervous to compete, but he had faith Netflix wouldn’t let any harm come to the contestants in the process. 

The most important thing to him while competing was staying true to himself, Lantz said. 

“Of course, I would have loved to have won. But at no point was I going to sacrifice my own identity to win that money because I would have to live with that,” said Lantz. “And there's no amount of money that’s worth that.” 

As for the winner, 55-year-old Mai Whelan, Lantz said he was glad she won. He added she was a great competitor and never did anything that was “downright despicable.” 

“She played the game and she knew that when the time came, she had to look out for herself and she did that. And I know that she's going to do great things with the money,” said Lantz. 

In a recent interview with British daily newspaper The Sunday Times, Whelan claimed she hadn’t received the prize money since the show wrapped filming earlier this year. However, Vanity Fair and People claimed sources told them all of the contestants were aware they would start to receive the prize fund after the finale episode aired on Dec. 6. 

While there is another season in the works, Lantz said he doesn't think he would compete again since his game strategy was already revealed from the first competition.

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