the Challenge’ — What It’s Like

  • Dani Templet appears on Netflix’s new reality competition series, “Squid Game: The Challenge.”
  • The 24-year-old Floridian competed in “Squid Game”-themed challenges to win $4.56 million.
  • This is Dani’s story, as told to journalist Ayomikun Adekaiyero.

This as-told-to essay is based on a conversation with Dani Templet, 24, about her experience on Netflix’s “Squid Game: The Challenge.” The following has been edited for length and clarity.

My first thought when I heard about “Squid Game: The Challenge” was, “Who doesn’t want $4.56 million?”

It was 1 a.m. on a summer night in 2022, and I was scrolling TikTok. I came across a video that Netflix was searching for contestants for a competition reality show based on the Korean show “Squid Game.”

As a fan of the show when it first came out, I knew it would be a challenge. I had been craving more life experience, as well as opportunities to travel and meet new people. “Squid Game: The Challenge” would be all that, plus an added million-dollar bonus.

How could I not at least try?

I had to submit a minute-long audition video. This is when I probably should have stopped and taken a look at myself. I had poorly done makeup on the bottom of my eyes from a failed attempt to wash it off. Despite that, I launched into a monologue about why I love reality shows and how competitive I am.

I got the callback a week later. I was then passed on to a Zoom call with the producers of the show, and they said they’d get back to me.

Then I heard nothing for six months.

Around November or December 2022, the producers finally contacted me to say they were flying me to the UK in January to compete on the show.

In hindsight, I probably should have done more preparation than just rewatching the original “Squid Game,” but how was I to know how difficult “The Challenge” would truly be?

‘Red Light, Green Light’ took roughly six hours, though it seems like it’s just 5 minutes

A crowd in green running across a room in "Squid Game: The Challenge"

The “Red Light, Green. Light” game in “Squid Game: The Challenge”


The energy of the first day was unmatched.

The contestants were collected from our hotel at 3 a.m. and driven down to the set for the first game.

Before the game started, we were given our costumes, which included the signature green jumpsuit from the original show.

Under the tracksuits and our shirts, we were also fitted with a bulky vest that had loads of tubes and ink in it. This would explode and make a whistle sound to signify when a player has been eliminated. It was so intimidating, and I remember every part of my body wanting to flinch the first time I heard it.

The first game was “Red Light, Green Light,” and they recreated the exact designs of the original show — including the surreal, terrifying doll.

The aim of the game was to get from one end of a building to the other without being spotted by a rotating doll at the finish line.

Players in green jumpsuit playing Red Light, Green Light

When a player is eliminated, ink from a hidden vest is sprayed on them.


In the final cut, they make it seem like we did the game in five minutes. We were there for at least six to seven exhausting hours. I remember I didn’t finish filming until 1 a.m. the next day.

The game itself was not a walk in the park, by any means. It was very chilly that day and, for some reason, another contestant and I thought it would be better to start from the back of the crowd.

On one hand, this meant we could hide behind players, which I took full advantage of. But this immediately backfired since everyone in front of us was so slow. After two rounds of the doll singing and stopping, we still weren’t over the starting line.

But I was very proud of myself for getting to the end with roughly 30 seconds to spare.

I think I was in the second to last group of people to make it to the finish line and waited there to cheer the final players on.

Once it was over, all I wanted was a hot shower and a massage.

In the dorms, the food was bad and we had no concept of time

Overhead shot of man eating rice with a fried egg in it.

A glimpse of the food given to contestants.


I was in one of the first groups to walk into the dormitory, and I immediately ran to a bed in a corner — the best bed in the entire room — so I could survey everyone and strategize.

The dorms were where we ate our meals, as you see on the show, but mealtimes were a challenge. I was raised in Louisiana, where we put seasoning in everything, and one of the meals they gave us literally tasted like cold pasta with ketchup on it.

There was a bathroom and toilets connected to the main room. But this meant we were sharing 10 toilets with more than 200 people. You do the math. It was a lot of queueing for showers, or to brush your teeth, like you’re at a festival.

We had no access to windows or anything that would indicate the time of day. We’d only know it was bedtime when we were warned that they were switching off the lights.

On the first day in the dorms, there were no challenges so players could get to know each other. I made a close group with five people that I’m still in touch with and will be friends with for life.

A man and a woman in front of a metal desk with carrots on them

Kyle and Dani contemplate who they want to eliminate on “Squid Game: The Challenge.”


Day two is when I was when I was assigned my chore. Kyle, the other person called, and I went to another room where we found carrots and peelers sitting on the table without any instructions.

Eventually, the announcer told us that we would be taking the first social test. We could either eliminate another player, or give a player an advantage.

We obviously chose elimination, and I was really excited about it. It was just so thrilling to be able to secretly vote someone out. We eventually chose player 200, Mothi, who we saw had been making too many allies.

However, as soon as we walked out of that room, I felt very guilty.

I knew karma was going to get me.

I accepted that I would lose the “Dalgona” game

A broken cookie in a metal disk.

Dani ended up breaking her cookie.


We eventually played the second game, “Dalgona,” on the evening of the third day.

In this game, we had to cut a shape out of a cookie using our tongues and a needle.

I was given the star shape to do and, honestly, as I was going into the game, I had accepted the idea of losing in my mind.

I was tired, I was craving a hamburger and Coke, and I had betrayed another player. I thought: “If I get eliminated right now, it is what I deserve.”

And then, as I broke the cookie and the vest shot ink on me, I thought it was karma.

I was never told who won the money, so I have to watch the show to find out.

In the end, I may not have won the competition, but I did get that life experience I wanted.

“Squid Game: The Challenge” is now streaming on Netflix.

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