The Momofoku owner will donate the prize money to the Southern Smoke Foundation, a crisis relief organization for people in the food and beverage industry.
Celebrity chef David Chang has made history by becoming the first celebrity to win the top prize on the show Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? on Sunday. Instead of keeping the money to himself, he plans to donate the entire amount to restaurant workers, one of the worst-hit professions during the pandemic. In a tweet, he expressed his grief over the lack of government support as employment outcomes worsened throughout the course of the public health crisis. He stated, "Since the government won't help out restaurant workers, we have to do what we can to help out." The prize money will be donated to the Southern Smoke Foundation, a crisis relief organization for people in the food and beverage industry, CNN reports.
I’m on Who Wants To Be a Millionaire tonight!! (ABC @9pm and if you miss it, you can catch up on @hulu the next day). Trying to raise money for hospitality workers in need via @southernsmoketx. The Asian gambling gene is unfortunately very strong in me. pic.twitter.com/dXAqZSSplk— david chang (@davidchang) November 29, 2020
The organization was founded in 2015 by chef Chris Shepherd. Already, it has distributed $4,097,425 to 2,071 people nationwide. Its website reads, "To date, Southern Smoke has distributed more than $5.7 million, both directly to people in need via the Emergency Relief Fund and to organizations that represent the needs of people in our industry." Shepherd was over the moon to have received Chang's winnings. "I'm so honored that Dave chose Southern Smoke as his charity," he said in an interview. "Now, more than ever, with indoor dining shut down in many parts of the country and temperatures dropping to prohibit outdoor dining, food, and beverage industry employees are desperate." According to the Southern Smoke Foundation, the chef's donation is estimated to help 500 food and beverage workers.
On last night's @MillionaireTV, celebrity chef @DavidChang needed to answer one final question to become the first celebrity winner ever in 20 years. Stumped, he called upon who other than...@MinaKimes!!! For the win. $1M will be donated to hospitality workers in need 👏👏 pic.twitter.com/47RkK3IUoV— Field Yates (@FieldYates) November 30, 2020
Chang could have chosen to drop out at $500,000, but he actively chose not to. "Having a million dollars right now, in this moment, is a game-changer for many, many families," he said in the episode. "And yes, half a million is as well—and I want to say, 'No, just take the money!'—but I'm not." For Chang's million-dollar question, he had to answer which United States President was the first to have working electricity in the White House (though he and the First Lady at the time never touched a light switch for fear of being rejected). Luckily, he still had the "phone a friend" lifeline, so he called up his friend and NFL analyst Mina Kimes for help. Of the options Ulysses S. Grant, Chester A. Arthur, Andrew Johnson, and Benjamin Harrison, both Chang and Kimes had a hunch that it would be the latter. The chef took the leap and, as we know now, won!
Chang claimed the win would not have been possible without, of course, Kimes, and director Alan Yang who also participated. "Thank you, Alan Yang and Mina Kimes for being so much smarter than me!" The Momofuko owner posted on Twitter. "Always good to have friends that did well in school!" He added that Team Asia had won that day. Yang also posted to Twitter. Sharing a photo of himself and Chang with the check, he stated, "Always wanted to hold a giant check on television. Thanks, Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?. Asian trivia dream team, for the win."