ESPAÑOLA, N.M. (KRQE) – Northern New Mexico College Men’s and Women’s Assistant Basketball Coach Tj Stukes competed in Netflix’s “Squid Game: The Challenge” reality show.

Stukes is no stranger to the spotlight. He played more than 1,300 games as a pro for the Harlem Wizards for 12 years. He also was a contestant on “The Cube,” appeared in “Hustle,” “Valentine’s Date,” “Chicago PD,” and in commercials for Lowe’s, Verizon and Adidas.

“I’ve been on multiple Netflix movies and TV shows. I’ve been on game shows. I’ve been in web series. And this is by far the biggest thing I’ve ever done, head-over-heals, 110 percent,” Stukes said in an interview with Northern New Mexico College.

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“Squid Game: The Challenge” is based on Netflix’s most popular show, “Squid Game,” which had 1.65 billion hours viewed in its first 28 days and has now reached 2.2 billion total hours watched by subscribers around the world. 

“Squid Game: The Challenge” has 456 contestants (as did the original Netflix series) who compete for a $4.56 million prize. Netflix is marketing the show as “the biggest reality series ever with the biggest prize ever.”

“We filmed in London, and I was cut off from the world, literally. No phone, no watch, no internet, no TV, no anything. It was just me and 456 other people from 35 countries around the world. And we were literally locked in a set,” Stukes said, adding that it was the most challenging event he has faced.

Like in “Squid Game,” contestants were given minimal amounts of food during the four and a half weeks of filming. Stukes went in at 255 pounds and came out at 221 pounds.

The first installment of the 10-episode series airs on Netflix on Nov. 22. “Once people watch it, I hope they can appreciate what we went through,” Stukes said.

To read the full story published by Northern New Mexico College, click here.