“Squid Game: The Challenge” Winner Mai Whelan Has Her $4.56 Million Prize — Finally (Exclusive)

PEOPLE can confirm that Whelan was aware of the streamer's payment schedule, which stated she wouldn't receive her prize until the series' finale aired

<p>Pete Dadds/Netflix</p> Mai Whelan in season 1 of

Pete Dadds/Netflix

Mai Whelan in season 1 of 'Squid Game: The Challenge'

Mai Whelan has finally received her long-awaited payout after winning Netflix's Squid Game: The Challenge!

PEOPLE can confirm that the immigration adjudicator has received her historic $4.56 million prize after beating out 455 other players in a series of grueling trials inspired by the award-winning Korean drama series.

Despite the television personality's previous claim of a 10-month delay in the funds, PEOPLE can confirm Whelan was aware of a payment plan that stated she would receive the payday once the show's season 1 finale aired.

<p>Pete Dadds/Netflix </p> Mai Whelan in 'Squid Game: The Challenge'

Pete Dadds/Netflix

Mai Whelan in 'Squid Game: The Challenge'

Related: Squid Game: The Challenge Trailer Shows 'Savage' Gameplay — and Friends Turned Enemies — for a Cash Prize

In December 2023, the television personality told The Times, “I feel like Tom Cruise in Jerry Maguire, show me the money!"

At the time, she also told the outlet that she already spent some of her expected winnings on a new look for the Squid Game gala — including a short haircut, Ralph Lauren dress and Jimmy Choo shoes.

“I still have buyer’s remorse from that, but I think it’s well-deserved,” she shared.

Related: How Squid Game: The Challenge's Players Secretly Helped Team Umbrella in the Cookie Game

In terms of her other plans, the Virginia native revealed her hopes to find “a retirement home somewhere,” adding, “We don’t know where yet, and we are happy with where we are. We live on the water. It’s very peaceful.”

Whelan clinched victory on Squid Games: The Challenge after a final game of Rock, Paper, Scissors with her fellow competitor Phill Cain.

"I don't know whether to cry or to cheer. I don't know what to do," she admitted to Cain after winning the big prize.

<p>netflix</p> Sam (Player 016), Mai (Player 287), and Phill (Player 451) on 'Squid Game: The Challenge'


Sam (Player 016), Mai (Player 287), and Phill (Player 451) on 'Squid Game: The Challenge'

Related: Squid Game: The Challenge Favorite Says Competitors Used Condoms as Chapstick During Filming

"Today just validates that anything is possible," she said in a confessional interview. "Even when [you] feel down and afraid, you have to pick yourself up, be a strong person and focus. Whatever you fear is, fight it with everything you got, and you can accomplish anything. And I've proven that tonight. I am the winner."

In addition to her personal plans, Whelan revealed she wanted to do good with the payday, telling Entertainment Tonight, "I have charitable causes I wanna contribute more to" including "sponsoring kids receiving education and helping the elderly with their basic needs and health care. And also the wildlife and the climate."

"I think those are very important to how we see the world so that way we can live in it and enjoy it for everybody, not just us at the present moment," she explained.

Since winning, Whelan has been active on social media, kicking off the new year "helping animals in need" and taking photos with her fans. "I love meeting my supporters; Squidos❤️" she captioned a shot on Jan. 6 with a fan.

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Season 1 of Squid Game: The Challenge can be streamed in full on Netflix. Recruitment for season 2 is now open here.

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