If she wanted to, ESPN’s Mina Kimes could call herself “Million Dollar Mina” now. Maybe friends and colleagues will do so from here on out.
The NFL Live analyst, Highly Questionable and Around the Horn panelist, and podcast host helped celebrity chef David Chang win $1 million on Sunday night’s episode of Who Wants To Be a Millionaire. Kimes was the friend Chang dialed up — the “phone-a-friend,” if you’re familiar with the show — to provide input on the game’s final question, which carried the big prize if answered correctly.
The topic in question was U.S. 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?”
The four possible answers:
A. Ulysses S. Grant
B. Benjamin Harrison
C. Chester A. Arthur
D. Andrew Johnson
On last night's @MillionaireTV, celebrity chef @DavidChang needed to answer one final question to become the first celebrity winner ever in 20 years. Stumped, he called upon who other than…@MinaKimes!!! For the win. $1M will be donated to hospitality workers in need ?? pic.twitter.com/47RkK3IUoV
— Field Yates (@FieldYates) November 30, 2020
Would you have gotten the question correct? Chang is enormously successful with his Momofuku empire of restaurants, Ugly Delicious show on Netflix, and recently released memoir, Eat A Peach. But he felt out of his element on this subject, so he dialed up the Yale-educated Kimes to steer him in the correct direction.
Kimes was a guest on Chang’s podcast, The Dave Chang Show, last year to talk about the NFL and their experiences growing up as Korean-Americans, how that upbringing helped form their cultural identities, and the representation of Asians in the media.
As the two decided what the final answer would be, Chang admitted he was “a terrible student,” which is why he became a chef, and that Kimes was “so much smarter than I am.” Kimes said she thought the answer was “probably Harrison,” but wasn’t 100 percent sure. Host Jimmy Kimmel added to the pressure by reminding Chang that no celebrity had ever won the million-dollar prize in the 20-year history of the show.
Kimes’ answer was good enough for Chang, however, and he was right to trust his friend. The answer was indeed Harrison and Chang won $1 million, which will be donated to Southern Smoke Foundation, a crisis relief organization for workers in the food and beverage industry.
(Had Chang given the wrong answer, he not only wouldn’t have won $1 million but the $500,000 he accumulated would’ve been cut to $32,ooo.)
Presenting Chang with the big check was Alan Yang, whose writing, producing, and directing credits include Parks and Recreation and Master of None. Reached again after Chang won, Kimes admitted that she almost decided to go with a different answer before her call was cut off.
“Not sure at all,” said Kimes. “In fact, I was about to say ‘… or Cleveland’ right before the phone cut me off.” As Kimmel pointed out, “Cleveland” wasn’t even one of the answers so maybe Kimes misspoke.
“Finally, my college education is justified!” she added. Maybe the two will talk about the big win on Chang’s podcast this week.
The survival of restaurants amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the food industry’s need to change its business model, and what role the government should take in helping such businesses have been passionate topics for Chang in recent months. Winning $1 million certainly helps him provide aid to his fellow restaurant owners and chefs.