Guy Fieri Just Shared How He Managed To Raise $24 Million For Restaurant Relief During Covid

Guy Fieri may be most recognizable as the enthusiastic "Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives," and the celebrity chef, restauranteur, and Food Network personality's lifelong devotion to pursuing his passions within the food industry is obviously manifold. Indeed, Fieri's work on "Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives" is credited for helping showcase the work of small restaurants in a way that builds big business.

His hard work in giving viewers an inside look at hidden gems across the United States in "Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives" has not only made him relatable celebrity-wise, but it has also given him a bit of clout when it comes to other things he's fervent about — and helping small business isn't the only way he's helped the hospitality industry. Need an example? In 2020, when restaurants were shuttered due to government-imposed lockdowns because of COVID-19, Fieri stepped up to help millions of restaurant workers who were without paychecks.

How Guy Fieri raised millions

On Marc Summers' podcast, "Marc Summers Unwraps," Guy Fieri said that within days of the COVID-19 lockdown, he began trying to raise money for out-of-work food industry workers. In just one night, Fieri made 43 videos to send to corporations such as Coca-Cola and individuals such as Jeff Bezos asking for funds to support those affected by restaurant closures.

By the following morning, Fieri was already receiving donations. Pepsi was the first to call and enthusiastically donate $1 million. Uber Eats chimed in next with $2 million, while Coca-Cola donated half a million dollars. Donations continued to roll in after that, reaching well over $20 million from more than 50 donors — $8 million of which Fieri raised on the first day alone. To distribute the money, Fieri partnered with the National Restaurant Association to found the Restaurant Employee Relief Fund (RERF). Ultimately, approximately 43,000 applicants received $500 grants from the fund.

"Five hundred dollars doesn't change the world," said Fieri. "But what it did is it gave people that big hug."