Former presidential chef to use $250,000 lottery prize to feed the homeless

Photo Credit: North Carolina Education Lottery 

Chef Roberto Mendoza of Charlotte said he’s had a lot of winning moments in his life. He’s cooked for President Trump and for former President Obama. He’s even catered the Oscars. But for Mendoza, winning a $250,000 lottery prize is an experience he never imagined.

“I have never won anything in my whole life,” Mendoza said. “This is an incredible feeling. I just can’t believe it.”

Mendoza said his good luck happened when he followed his mother’s intuition and bought a Hit $500 ticket from the 7-Eleven on Nations Ford Road in Charlotte.

“My mom was up visiting,” Mendoza said. “She told me she had a lucky feeling and knew I was going to win the lottery, so I bought a ticket.”

He took the $5 ticket home and started scratching.

“My hands started shaking when I saw the numbers,” Mendoza said. “I’ve been shaking ever since.”

Mendoza claimed his prize Wednesday at lottery headquarters in Raleigh. After required state and federal tax withholdings, he took home $176,876. He plans to use the money to finish building a cafeteria in the Dominican Republic to feed the hungry.

“We feed more than 300 children through my foundation,” Mendoza said. “I know what it’s like to be hungry. I told myself when I was a teen that, if I’m ever in a position to give back, I’d do everything I can to make sure no one else has to go hungry.”

Hit $500 launched in July 2018 with six top prizes of $250,000. One top prize remains.