Queer Squid Game finalist Phill aka Player 451 ‘viciously bullied’ as teen

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - NOVEMBER 30: Phill Cain is one of two LGBTQ players to make the Squid Game final. Pictured attending the 'Squid Game: The Challenge' Celebration at the Trials Live Experience Space on November 30, 2023 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Joe Scarnici/Getty Images for Netflix)

Squid Game: The Challenge has rapidly become the must-watch reality TV show online. From hundreds of contestants, two LGBTQ players – Sam Lantz and Phill Cain – have survived to the Netflix show’s explosive finale.

In case you weren’t aware, the reality competition is based off Netflix’s smash hit Squid Game, which took the world by storm in 2021 due to its compelling storytelling and crushing commentary on capitalism. 

Squid Game: The Challenge started out with a cast of 456 players from around the world – some of whom were part of the LGBTQ+ community – battling it out in series of games with the promise of winning a huge $4.56m (£3.55m) cash prize that could change their lives. 

Now, two LGBTQ+ players, Sam Lantz (Player 016) and Phill Cain (Player 451), have made it all the way to the competition’s climatic finale – which hits Netflix on Thursday (7 December). 

Phill – who lists ‘he’, ‘she’ and ‘they’ pronouns in their Instagram bio – moved from his home country of Brazil to the US during middle school, and has been a pretty easy going presence throughout the show. His calm energy and non-confrontational energy has seen him form key alliances with the “girls, gays and theys”, as he himself put it in one episode. 

In one confessional, the Hawaii-based scuba instructor recalled being bullied “pretty viciously” as a teen. He said the experience happened after moving to the US.

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The 27-year-old said the experience “put [them] into a small shell” but helped form their current “introverted extrovert” energy that LGBTQ+ Squid Game: The Challenge fans have come to love.

“It also helped me become more comfortable with being myself, and so my motto is pretty much always avoid conflict and confrontation” Phill said.

He also believes that his study of psychology at uni has helped him understand “how people’s brains work”, which is crucial in a competition that’s half mind games and half physical prowess. 

If they win Squid Game: The Challenge’s mega cash prize, Phill said they “wouldn’t keep most of the money”. Instead, they’ll dole out a portion of the funds to those who helped them in the past. 

“I’ve personally been helped a lot throughout my entire life by family and friends and I’ve never really been able to reciprocate,” he said.

Squid Game: The Challenge is streaming on Netflix now.

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