Chang is the first celebrity to take home the top prize on the rebooted game show hosted by Jimmy Kimmel.

By Adam Campbell-Schmitt
November 30, 2020
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Succeeding as a chef requires a certain set of smarts, from culinary skills and creativity to business acumen. But last night, chef and Momofuku founder and Ugly Delicious host David Chang proved he has his trivia chops as well, banking a big payday for charity on ABC's Who Wants to Be a Millionaire.

Since returning earlier this year with new host Jimmy Kimmel, the game show has put celebrities and special guests in the hot seat, typically playing for a cause of their choice with a shot at a $1 million donation if they can survive 15 rounds of increasingly difficult questions. Chang selected the Southern Smoke Foundation, a nonprofit started by Houston-based chef Chris Shepherd, which, in recent years, has supported the hospitality industry during times of crisis and which Food & Wine has also tapped as one of our recommended avenues to help restaurants, chefs, and their staffs survive business and job losses due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

david chang who wants to be a millionaire
Credit: John Fleenor / Contributor/Getty Images

Chang's series of questions included a couple of food-related subjects, like asking him to identify the fictional "clean plate club" for children who eat their entire meal and which U.S. restaurant chain people in Japan order food from to celebrate Christmas (it's KFC), the latter of being the $250,000 question and an easy one for Chang who has lived in Tokyo. And he wasn't alone in his quest for the million, having tapped screenwriter Alan Yang as his official "smartest person you know" sidekick (which is an additional lifeline to help less-acute celebrities still securely climb their way through the lower-stakes questions) who talked him through the penultimate $500,000 question.

His final question delved into presidential (and technology) history:

Although he and his wife never touched a light switch for fear of being shocked, who was the first president to have electricity in the White House?

Given a choice between Ulysses S. Grant, Benjamin Harrison, Chester A. Arthur, and Andrew Johnson, Chang used his final lifeline to phone his friend journalist ESPN analyst Mina Kimes who helped him nudge him to correctly guess Harrison, clinching the top prize, the first time in the game show's entire history a celebrity has won $1 million.

Chang took to Twitter to celebrate his win, joking, "My gambling problem finally pays off..."

Southern Smoke's Instagram account registered the organization's gratitude late last night saying "we cannot thank you enough. This will change so many peoples’ lives for the better."