LIFE

Chef Wins $250,000 On $5 Lottery Ticket, Then Decides To Use Money To Give Back To His Community

by Ileana Paules-Bronet
Ileana is the Editor of Original Content at LittleThings. She grew up in upstate New York and Oregon and now lives in Queens, NY. Ileana graduated from Skidmore College with a degree in sociology. After graduating, she attended the Columbia Publishing Course in New York City, then worked as in marketing at Oxford University Press. Since transitioning to editorial, she has written for sites like BuzzFeed, HuffPost, and Unwritten. She has also worked for local newspapers and magazines in upstate New York. In her free time, you can find Ileana watching Law and Order: SVU, eating ice cream, and spending time with her dog.

Chef Roberto Mendoza has had an amazing career — he’s hosted parties for A-list celebrities, he’s catered the Academy Awards, and he’s even cooked for numerous presidents — but his life wasn’t always easy.

Roberto grew up in El Salvador, and things were really rough. When he was a teenager, his parents left him. “I grow up without mom and dad,” he told Inside Edition. “You know, they left me. I was by myself. So I went to bed hungry all day. And like 1 o’clock in the morning, I said, at least a glass of water I’m gonna take. So I opened the faucet and air came out. Because they shut the water off and I start to cry and cry. And said God, when I grow up, I don’t wanna suffer for hunger again.”

A few years later, he was kidnapped for two months. Eventually, he was rescued by the Salvation Army and sent to safety in Canada.

After attending culinary school, Roberto started working in kitchens. He worked his way up the ladder and ended up becoming an executive chef.

A couple of years ago, Roberto started giving back to his community. He realized how rewarding it was to help others, and he knew he wanted to commit more time and energy to good causes. Unfortunately, to help out in the big ways he wanted, Roberto would need a lot more money than he was making on his chef’s salary.

When he bought a $5 scratch-off lottery ticket, he didn’t expect to win anything — but he suddenly found himself $250,000 richer. What he decided to do with that money is absolutely inspiring.

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