ESPN's Mina Kimes delivers chef David Chang key assist for historic 'Who Wants to Be a Millionaire' win

Cassandra Negley
·3 min read

“Who Want to Be a Millionaire” has ESPN personality Mina Kimes to thank for its first ever $1 million celebrity winner in 20 years on the air.

No, she didn’t win the top prize. But she did answer the final question correctly on the phone-a-friend even if she wasn’t quite sure it was right or not.

ESPN’s Kimes help David Chang win $1 million

Mina Kimes in her home office.
Mina Kimes helped David Chang win $1 million for charity. (Photo by Getty Images/Getty Images)

Celebrity chef David Chang competed on the celebrity version of the show that aired on Sunday night. He made it to the final round and had the option of answering with a chance at $1 million or walking away with $500,000. If he answered incorrectly, he’d drop down to $32,000.

As host Jimmy Kimmel reminded him, no celebrity in the show’s history had ever won the $1 million prize. Celebrities compete to win money that’s donated to their charity of their choice. It’s the reason Chang said he wanted to answer and try for it.

But the last question was obviously a tough one and he called in Kimes, who he said on the show is “way smarter than I am.” She said it was Benjamin Harrison who was the first president with electricity in the White House.

Chang-Kimes millionaire teamwork gives back during COVID-19

The winnings will go to the Southern Smoke Foundation in Houston. The organization was founded by chef Chris Shepherd to raise funds for multiple sclerosis research. For the last few years it has provided emergency family assistant to those in the hospitality industry after life-changing events. That includes Hurricane Harvey and those impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Chang has worked with the organization before and was pleased with being able to help further on Twitter.

Kimes almost gave Chang different answer

Kimmel and Chang called Kimes to celebrate the win and share the news with her. Kimmel played it straight and asked how sure she was of the answer.

“I would not have trusted me, especially after that long preamble about how he shouldn’t have picked me,” Kimes said on the phone. “ ... Not sure at all. In fact, I was about to say, ‘Or Cleveland’ right before the phone cut me off.”

President Grover Cleveland was not one of the four provided answers, but if the phone hadn’t cut her off it might have sown doubt in Chang. To her credit, Cleveland served a presidential term directly before Harrison and directly afterward. He was the second president to have electricity.

Kimes was following along while the show aired live and noted her involvement with a SpongeBob SquarePants GIF.

Her mother also referenced the assist and Kimes’ remark about how they didn’t waste money on her college education.

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