The winner of "Squid Game: The Challenge" is inching closer to finally seeing her $4.56M payday, but by the terms of her contract ... TMZ has learned she's still gotta play the waiting game.
Sources tell TMZ ... show champ Mai Whelan -- who recently said her winnings from the Netflix series have yet to hit her bank account -- signed a contract alongside all other contestants that stated the jackpot would be disbursed 30 days after the finale aired.
The finale aired December 6, so 30 days later would be Friday, January 5, 2024 -- so Mai won't get those millions until next year.
Basically, Mai knew all along she'd have to wait a while for the big bucks to roll in ... 'cause the contract she signed informed her about the payment plan.
When she revealed last week she still hadn't seen a dime ... everyone took it as her complaining -- but with the full context of her contract, it's more likely she was reminding producers the clock's ticking!
We're also told it's unclear if she'll receive the money as a lump sum or in increments.