I was on Squid Game: The Challenge – the food was unbearable, staying clean was impossible and a guard broke the rules | The Sun

DR Ankur Khajuria, a plastic surgeon from London, has spoken out about his experience competing in Squid Game: The Challenge and the brutal living conditions that involved. 

Ankur, better known as Player #090, clawed his way through the competition, reaching the final 31 players before he was eliminated after the marbles challenge.

Ahead of Squid Game: The Challenge’s premiere on Netflix earlier this month, Ankur announced his appearance on the competition show on social media.

He said: “Thrilled to announce that I’m officially on Netflix – let the games begin! Watch me compete as player #090 for $4.56 million dollars on Squid Game: The Challenge, now streaming.

“There were ~500,000+ applications from around the world, and I am grateful to be one of 456 individuals selected.

“A once in a lifetime opportunity and one of the toughest physical/mental challenges I have done. But so much fun and have made some friends for life!” he concluded. 



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In the post, Ankur touched on how challenging the experience was for him. However, he’s since spoken out about his time on the show in detail. 

He told Metro that the competition series strictly followed the premise of Hwang Dong-hyuk’s series, which aired in 2021, except for once when a contestant made a rude gesture to one of the dormitory guards and the guard repeated it back. 

“I don’t know whether he was fired the next day, but that was the only time [the mask slipped] otherwise they were pretty strict,” he revealed. 

The contestants live together in a huge dormitory and have no connection to the outside world while they’re competing on the show. Given how intense the experience was, Ankur said it was an adjustment getting back to normal life. 

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“I’ve got Stockholm Syndrome,” he joked. “I miss the Haydn concerto music that used to wake us up every morning.”

However, the conditions were less than ideal, and there are definitely a few things he doesn’t miss about the immersive experience. 

When he and the other contestants arrived on set, they were not allowed to bring any personal possessions in with them, as everything was provided. However, “everything” was limited to just a toothbrush, toothpaste, a comb, and a bum bag. 

They were also given one green tracksuit which they wore throughout the series. 

These limited supplies meant it was pretty difficult for the contestants to stay clean. Although they did get fresh underwear every day and there was a “deodorising spray” in the communal bathrooms so they could try to freshen themselves up.

“It felt more water to me than anything,” Ankur recalled.

Eating meals was a similarly grim experience, the former contestant admitted. He and the other plays were given bland meals like porridge to give them energy during the tasks. However, Ankur said that it was always “stale” but he just viewed it for what it was.

He said: “A lot of people could not bear the taste and they would give it to someone else. But actually, at that point, it was just fuel. 

“I would just get it down as quickly as possible.”

“For sure that food was not great,” Ankur added, explaining that lunchtime and evening meals typically consisted of high-protein foods like eggs or meatballs with plain rice. 

And, to top it off, the food was not shared out equally. 

“There were even times where the proportions were slightly different between the players and I don’t know if that was done deliberately to create drama,” he revealed.

“At that point, everyone was hungry, everyone was mentally pretty exhausted, and I thought that was all part of the challenge.”

When he and the other players weren’t competing in the challenges, they had to endure another form of torture; waiting. 

On the day they filmed the warship challenge, Ankur recalls and all the players woke up at 5.30am to get ready. However, his group was one of the last to play and they were forced to wait in a plain “white” room for 10 hours before it was their turn. 

“It’s a purely white room with nothing in it, so you just sit there and wait.”

To pass the time, “people were working out, people were sitting or chatting. 

“I used to work out a little bit, do some push-ups, and do breath work as well, because I’m big on that. And I also napped,” he admitted. 

Despite the gruelling conditions, Ankur said he was prepared for this all as he knew what he’d signed up for. 

He said: “Not to blast other shows, but we weren’t on Love Island. This was meant to be tough both physically and mentally and people knew that going into the show.

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“Yes, the conditions were challenging, but that’s just how it is,” he concluded. 

Nine episodes of Squid Game: The Challenge are currently available to stream on Netflix. The series finale will premiere on 6 December.

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