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Celebrity chef scores $1 million for Texas food charity on popular game show

Celebrity chef scores $1 million for Texas food charity on game show

David Chang jimmy kimmel Who wants to be a miliionaire
Celebrity chef David Chang won $1 million. Courtesy of ABC

Celebrity chef David Chang lied to his podcast audience. Turns out, he was the best after all. 

Appearing on the Sunday, November 29, episode of Who Wants to be a Millionaire, Chang became the first celebrity in the show's 20-year history to win the $1 million prize when he correctly identified that Benjamin Harrison was the first president to have electricity in the White House. Here's the winning moment:

Even better, his efforts benefitted the Southern Smoke Foundation, the Texas nonprofit started by Houston chef Chris Shepherd that provides cash assistance to restaurant workers in crisis. 

"I don’t know what to say," Shepherd tells CultureMap. "When you can sit and watch what somebody did for you, that’s true generosity."

Shepherd says he figured Chang did well when the show asked for Southern Smoke's bank account information, but he didn't expect it would be a $1 million. He called Chang after the episode revealed the winning answer. 

"It’s something he believes in," Shepherd says. "He understands that the money tonight is good. The vision of what people have seen now will draw more attention to the problem at hand. Not just through donations, but maybe people will understand the hospitality industry is really struggling."

Shepherd also hopes that increased awareness about the organization will spur more donations. With restaurants across the country being shut down by governmental authorities as part of efforts to control the spread of COVID-19, workers will need the organization's assistance more than ever. 

"This couldn’t have come at a better time," Shepherd says. "Hopefully people will see it and go, 'what is Southern Smoke? How can I help out?''

Southern Smoke will build on the momentum of Chang's victory. From December 1-31, the organization will hold the Southern Smoke All In Luxury Vehicle Raffle. The person with the winning ticket will win a Lexus IS sedan valued at approximately $45,000. Ticket cost $100 each (see rules for qualifications).  

Founded by Shepherd, the Southern Smoke Foundation provides emergency relief funds to hospitality workers in dire situations. Since the start of the pandemic, the foundation has issued over $2.9 million in grants to over 2,200 people nationwide. CultureMap Tastemaker Awards recognized Shepherd's efforts with a Hero Award.