If you watched Netflix’s new game show series “Floor Is Lava,” you might have seen a familiar face.
LeHong Hong, the athletic trainer at Kingsburg High, competed on the show with his friends Ryan Ramirez and Alex Morales on the series’ fourth episode. The series was released on June 19 and it’s been on Netflix’s top-10 chart since its release. The show climbed to the top spot during its first week on the platform.
Hong had to keep his involvement with the series a secret from his friends and family, but he said their response was positive and they’ve been supportive of the show.
“Keeping a secret like that was hard,” Hong said. “It is hard because you’re excited.”
“Floor is Lava” is based on the children’s game of the same name. The object of the show is to get from one side of the room to the other while trying to avoid falling into a red and bubbly liquid that is considered lava.
If a team member falls into the lava, that person is eliminated, but on the show, you never see that person again. They’re not shown getting out of the lava as the game continues.
Hong didn’t comment on backstage details of the show, but he said the show is not staged. They had one shot to complete the course.
“I hear a lot of people saying ‘Oh it’s staged, you know what’s going on,’” Hong said. “I’m like ‘No dude,’ if you look in the background of the show, my best friend Ryan, he sits in the back and is telling us what to do. We had to figure it out on the spot. We didn’t have someone tell us everything.”
Hong said he watched and enjoyed the entire first season.
“Everyone did great, regardless if you all made it or not.”
In their episode, Hong, Ramirez and Morales (spoiler alert) won the $10,000 cash prize after they completed the course. Nobody from their team fell into the lava. They were the only team on the episode to have more than one team member complete the course.
They competed against two other teams, one being composed of doctors and the other featuring a trio of nurses. Each episode features 2-3 teams competing against each other for the cash prize.
“We were terrified,” Hong said about his team’s emotions during the course. “We had one shot. We were scared. You could see me panicking like ‘Hey I might fall, I might fall,’ because I didn’t want to let my team down.”
Hong, Ramirez and Morales are from Ceres, a town approximately five miles south of Modesto, and they were on the football and track teams together in high school. Their team name on the show was called the “Party Animals.”
When they finished the course, they lived up to their name with a celebration. Hong said they were relieved when they completed the course and that they were exhausted after filming. Hong said his experience was positive and it was a once in a lifetime opportunity.
“We were excited, we were screaming,” Hong said. “My buddy was screaming in the camera. We were underdogs.”
All 10 episodes of “Floor is Lava” are available to stream on Netflix.