New Mexico college coach cast on ‘Squid Game: The Challenge’
*WARNING: Spoilers ahead.*
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – “Squid Game: The Challenge” is taking the world by storm, with millions of people watching each week as 456 players compete for $4.56 million.
One of those competitors is Player 182, he’s TJ Stukes to his family and friends.
“This is by far the grandest thing I’ve ever done by far, not just the notoriety it’s getting, the sets were identical. The sets, the games were grand,” said Stukes.
In the show, Stukes competed in a series of Korean children’s games.
Competition is not new to him. When he’s not shooting an insanely popular reality show, he’s an assistant basketball coach at Northern New Mexico College.
But how did coaching prepare him for Squid Game: The Challenge?
“I don’t think I’ve ever been asked that question. Patience, it teaches me patience and empathy,” Stukes said. “Allowing myself the grace to make mistakes.”
He’s never been one to back down from a challenge – he spent the last 12 years playing for the Harlem Wizards.
But this was unlike anything he’s ever done. Along with the games, he lived in a dorm with a hundred of people. They didn’t know what time it was or talk to anyone outside the show for weeks while filming.
“There was a lot of people breaking. A lot of people, it was their first time away from their families for this long, or being in this type of situation, dealing with people’s abrasiveness,” said Stukes.
But thoughts of his family back in Española and that life-changing prize money kept him going.
“I wanted to give my family a comfort that I’ve never known,” Stukes said. “Just allow them to be financially free and enjoy life.”
While Stukes came up short, he says the experience was well worth every second.
The season finale aired on Netflix Wednesday night. Stukes says he and his family were excited to watch it together.
Netflix is also going to be shooting a second season of the show.
But do you have what it takes to win the $4.56 million dollars? They’re now casting for season two.