Celebrity Chef David Chang became the first celebrity to ever win the million dollars on Who Wants to be a Millionaire. The celebrity contestants always play for charity and this year it’s benefiting frontline workers. Chang gave his million dollar winnings to the Southern Smoke Foundation. Southern Smoke provides crisis relief to hospitality workers and organizations and has distributed $5.8 million both directly to people via their Emergency Relief Fund and to industry organizations since 2015. Jimmy Kimmel stated before Chang answered the million dollar question that every celebrity has walked away before risking it all by this point in the game. Chang decided to take the risk and answered the question, “Who was the first president to have electricity in the White House?” Chang called his friend, ESPN journalist Mina Kimes, for the answer. Here are a few excerpts via CNN:
Chang jumped from his chair when he heard the sound of screams, as writer and director Alan Yang presented a gigantic check on stage. Chang had won.
“Always wanted to hold a giant check on television,” Yang wrote on Twitter, with a photo of him, Chang, Kimmel and the check. “Thanks @MillionaireTV! Asian trivia dream team ftw.”
Chang had always intended on donating the money to the Southern Smoke Foundation, a crisis relief organization for people in the food and beverage industry. If Chang had decided not to answer the question, he would have walked away with roughly $500,000. Instead, he decided to risk it all for the sake of doubling that donation.
“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. “And yes, half a million is as well — and I want to say ‘No, just take the money!’ — but I’m not.”
While restaurants and bars were classified by states as essential businesses that could operate on takeout and delivery, many still had to close down during stay-at-home orders. Some businesses found it hard, or economically unfeasible to adopt that model, or had other public health concerns.
“Since the government won’t help out restaurant workers…we have to do what we can to help out,” Chang tweeted on Sunday in a thread about winning on the show.
I would have lost all my money. I don’t think I have any friends who know such intimate details of American history. I know I don’t. I like the fact that this season was all about social responsibility. The show didn’t have a live studio audience and only allowed the contestant, the host and celebrity guest on the stage to comply with Covid regulations. I really like that they highlighted charities that focus on frontline workers who have been hit the hardest in the pandemic, especially those working in the hospitality industries.
I’ve never watched Millionaire but I love a great trivia show so I may just check it out because the nerd in me demands it. Hopefully the million dollars will go a long way to help hospitality workers who have suffered due to the pandemic. If we flip the Senate in January, Biden and Harris can address the financial strain on American families rather swiftly when they first take office. In the meantime, here’s hoping that we pull through the next few months and our economy rebounds at some point.