Player 301/Trey, Player 299/Spencer, Player 033/Figgy, and Player 278/Ashley reveal behind-the-scenes secrets from Netflix's reality competition series.
When players were eliminated from Squid Game: The Challenge, they left empty-handed ... in more ways than one.
Not only did 455 competitors leave without the $4.56 grand prize (which will be earned by either Player 287/Mai, Player 451/Phill, or Player 16/Sam in the finale), but they also left without the green track suit they lived in throughout filming since they had to return it to producers — much to their disappointment.
"I'm pissed about it," Player 301/Trey Plutnicki tells EW with a laugh. "I want that tracksuit so bad, but I don't want to pay for it. It's a lot of money! My mom made a custom T-shirt — it's not necessarily the T-shirt from the show, but it has my number on it and a couple of the basic squid game shapes. And I also got one of the shirts from Etsy."
He's not the only one who sought out a copy of the Squid Game uniform after his experience on the reality show spinoff. "I can't even tell you about how much I've been looking through Amazon to find the right vendor to ship me one," Player 299/Spencer Hawkins says. "We'll see how it turns out."
Player 033/Jessica "Figgy" Figueroa did the same thing. "I ordered a spoof online and I will be wearing it, so if anyone sees me out there in 033 tracksuit, you know it's Figgy," she adds laughing.
Player 278/Ashley Tolbert also ordered a custom-made track suit for herself. "Just for memories," she tells EW. "I actually kept my water bottle, and I kept the little Vaseline canister they gave us because our lips were dry. I kept the little granny panties they gave us in there. They gave us fanny packs and I kept that."
Trey also kept whatever smaller items he could. "I did keep my toothbrush, I brought my toothpaste home, and last time I was out in LA, I had to fly with it because it's the only tube of toothpaste that I had small enough to not get taken by TSA," he says. "And then I also kept my hand sanitizer. I know a couple players kept their bum bags, but I forgot mine. I had accidentally thrown it in with my tracksuit [when giving it back]."
While the players all loved wearing the green track suits on set, their opinions on the food served during filming were not as positive. "I remember having plain oatmeal, that was the breakfast each time," Spencer says. "And rice with chicken that could have used more salt or something. And I myself, as someone who exercises a good deal, enjoy larger portions, so I wasn't really satisfied. One time someone left a little extra in their tray and I licked at it clean."
Figgy jokes she would never give the Squid Game food "five stars on Yelp," but adds that she's grateful she wasn't served an egg and a little bottle of water like the characters got on the original scripted drama.
"That would not suffice," she says. "We were given different meals each day, but every morning, we had plain porridge. It wasn't terrible, just flavorless. It maybe needed some sugar. I would force it down in the morning. And then lunch would vary. Sometimes we'd maybe have a little bit of rice and some teeny tiny protein in there, and that was bringing me back to Survivor. Some days it might be a tiny bit of noodles. I wasn't eating steak and lobster, but I had enough food to give me the energy I felt like I needed, and that was a part of the immersive experience."
Trey was shocked to realize that after he left the show, he was actually healthier than when he arrived due to the food. "It was definitely the healthiest I felt since my lung collapse — I felt so good in there," he says. "Maybe it was because there was no sodium, no preservatives. It was just boiled peas and chicken that was dry. But I felt fantastic coming out of that."
He quickly clarifies that he hated actually eating the food. "Don't get me wrong, it sucked," he says with a laugh. "It was awful. It was terrible. I had to choke it down. I was going to vomit every morning from the oatmeal, but coming out of the game, I felt very healthy — just 10 pounds lighter, give or take."
Another difficult aspect of living through the Squid Game: The Challenge experience was sleeping in the large dorm room alongside the hundreds of other players every night. "There's so many people who snore, and if someone snored, no one was getting sleep," Figgy says. "I took the tallest bunk because I wanted to be able to see everybody. Before we all picked bunks, I said, 'Does anybody over here snore?' Everyone said, 'No.' We all go to bed, sure enough, we got a snorer. In the middle of the night, someone would climb down and help roll somebody over so they would stop snoring, and it worked."
Trey says that he struggled with the quality of bedding and dorm environment. "The pillows were pretty bad, not very supportive," he explains. "I also slept on the top bunk, so not only was it hotter than every other bunk, it was also brighter because they had to keep some of the lights on for safety issues, so people weren't tripping as they went to the bathroom. I had to sleep with my jacket over my eyes, so that was pretty challenging. We were woken up every morning pretty early, and it never really felt like a full night of sleep."
Despite those challenging aspects, Spencer loved living in the dorm because it felt like adult summer camp. "It could have been more comfortable, but I couldn't have asked for better company," he says. "I really appreciated us having no phones and us all being in the same clothes. It was so interesting having conversations with people and someone telling me they do marketing and then afterwards I find them on Instagram and they're an influencer with half a million followers. It's like, 'Oh, okay. That's the kind of marketing you do.'"
The season finale of Squid Game: The Challenge premieres Wednesday at 6 p.m. PT/9 p.m. ET on Netflix.
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