David Chang, famous chef and Momofuku founder, recently became the first celebrity to win the top prize in “Who Wants to Be a Millionare.” And he decided to donate all of it to charity—the Southern Smoke Foundation, a crisis relief organization for people working in the food and beverage industry.
“Having a million dollars right now in this moment, is a game changer for many, many families,” Chang says in the video clip of the episode.
Host Jimmy Kimmel watched as Chang struggled to answer the last question that would secure the win.
“No (celebrity) has ever gone for it,” Kimmel said. “They’ve all walked away.”
Chang went for it—and won big. He shared his excitement on Twitter, joking that his gambling problem finally paid off.
Chang had always intended on donating any money he won to the Southern Smoke Foundation. If he decided not to answer that last question, he would have won about $500,000, which is also incredibly helpful to restaurant workers in need.
Chang also called attention to the government’s lack of support regarding helping restaurants and bars stay in business during the COVID-19 pandemic: “Since the government won’t help out restaurant workers…we have to do what we can to help out,” he tweeted.
The Southern Smoke Foundation was started in 2015 by chef Chris Shepherd. They have, to date, 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,” according to the website.
The foundation congratulated Chang in a tweet that read, “WE WON A MILLION DOLLARS!” It is estimated that Chang’s donation will help 500 food and beverage workers.