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Celebrity chef wins 'Who Wants to Be a Millionaire,' donates $1 million prize to Houston charity

The money will help restaurant and hospitality workers affected by the pandemic.

HOUSTON — The question: Name the first president to have electricity in the White House.

The answer: Benjamin Harrison.

The winner: Chef David Chang and the Southern Smoke Foundation.

“It was incredibly stressful,” Chang said.

Last Sunday, Chang became the first celebrity contestant on the game show “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” to win the top prize.

The $1 million will go to Houston’s Southern Smoke Foundation which is currently assisting restaurant and hospitality industry workers affected by the pandemic.

“That will go to help about 500 people,” said the organization’s co-founder Chef Chris Shepherd. “As of today, we’ve gotten 256 new applications and those continue to rise every day. It really comes at a time when it’s most needed.”

The foundation has provided help to those impacted by disasters and crises in the past, like Hurricane Harvey. This time around, the money is helping those struggling as the pandemic drags on. Shepherd says that if things for the industry don’t turn around quickly, much of it may be lost.

“If we don’t get through this at some point, or get some type of government assistance, we will start to see restaurants close more frequently and that will change the way the city looks, for sure,” Shepherd said.

Shepherd says the impacts look even worse in other parts of the country where restrictions for restaurant owners are more strict. He is pushing legislators to sign the Restaurants Act by Thursday.

“(The act) signifies a fund that’s specifically set up for the hospitality industry,” Shepherd said. “We start talking about that, that’s 11 million people in the hospitality industry. It’s the second-largest sector of employment. It needs to happen.”