$135,000 to World Central Kitchen
Poker and philanthropy meet again as the World Poker Tour and Budweiser have partnered to launch a celebrity charity poker event. The King’s Celebrity Poker Challenge on ClubWPT premieres on Twitch at 8pm ET on Thursday, May 28. Multiple channels will host the event, including Budweiser and World Surf League.
The Poker Challenge will feature six celebrities competing from their homes, webcams on, using the ClubWPT poker platform. The participants include actors Jon Hamm, Jason Alexander, and Kevin Pollak, NBA star Pau Gasol, legendary surfing champion Kelly Slater, and World Central Kitchen (WCK) founder Chef José Andrés.
Proceeds from the show will go to World Central Kitchen. Budweiser is contributing $15,000 on behalf of each player and another $35,000 to WCK in the winner’s name for a total of $135,000.
some light hearted fun and to make a positive impact by spotlighting the great work of World Central Kitchen”
Said Budweiser vice president of marketing Monica Rustgi: “Bud wanted to give people chance to feel a little of that thrill of competition while staying safe at home, so with the World Poker Tour, we’ve assembled a cast of characters for a charity game for some light hearted fun and to make a positive impact by spotlighting the great work of World Central Kitchen.”
In the Poker Challenge announcement, the term “first episode” was used, so it appears that this may be just the initial broadcast in a series.
WCK provides meals during crises
Chef José Andrés founded World Central Kitchen a decade ago to “use the power of food to heal and strengthen communities through times of crisis and beyond.”
The organization has rushed to locations around the world which have been devastated by disasters, helping rebuild food systems and distribute meals to residents and relief workers. WCK has served over 19 million meals, including 3.7 million meals in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Katrina via its “Chef Relief Team.”
In April, Andrés announced a new initiative called “Chefs for America,” in which WCK is paying restaurant owners $10 to $20 per meal, allowing them to stay open, rehire staff, and pay for ingredients.
He has converted his own restaurants into relief kitchens and has vowed to let all frontline healthcare workers such as doctors and nurses eat free the rest of the year once the facilities reopen to the public.
Poker community keeps stepping up
The King’s Celebrity Poker Challenge on ClubWPT is just the latest in a series of charitable poker events during the COVID-19 pandemic. In April, poker pro Dan Smith launched a charity drive through his organization, Double Up Drive, raising $600,000 for families in some of the hardest hit areas in the U.S. Run It Once added another $32,520 through a heads-up poker tournament.
Also in April, actor Ben Affleck hosted a celebrity tournament on Americas Cardroom that raised $2m for Feeding America. The following weekend, partypoker hosted a tournament to benefit the UK’s National Health Service.
About a month ago, Discovery CEO David Zaslav raised nearly $1.3m for New York’s Mount Sinai COVID-19 Response Fund in a charity tournament. The fund focuses on providing much-needed PPE and meals to frontline healthcare workers in New York City hospitals.
PokerStars contributed $1m, half of which went to CARE International
Most recently, actor Hank Azaria and author/screenwriter Andy Bellin organized the Stars CALL for Action celebrity poker tournament on PokerStars.net. PokerStars contributed $1m, half of which went to CARE International, with the other half benefiting charities selected by the celebrities who finished in the money. Actor David Costabile won, donating his $100,000 to World Central Kitchen.