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MasterChef winner reveals surprising fact about $250,000 prize money

EXCLUSIVE: Diana Chan spills on what really happens when you win the cooking competition.

MasterChef Australia champion Diana Chan has shared a surprising detail about the $250,000 prize money winners receive on the reality show.

The season nine star, who has built an incredibly successful career in the food industry since taking out the title in 2017, tells Yahoo Lifestyle she didn’t receive the eye-watering amount of cash until months after filming had wrapped.

MasterChef’s Diana Chan holding the MasterChef trophy.
MasterChef’s Diana Chan spills on when the winners receive their prize money. Photo: Channel 10

“You don’t get it instantly,” she shares. “I don’t know if I’m actually meant to mention this, but I didn’t get it until like five months later.”

Diana says it was “a funny feeling” when the money finally arrived in her bank account and admits she had no idea what to do with it.

“To be honest, I was making a decent amount of money doing other things that I actually put it aside and invested it,” she shares.

“I wouldn't say I have it now anymore, this is six years down the track, but you use it on different things to start your career and whatever you want to do. The money's there and they never say, ‘You have to do this with the money’. So it's entirely up to you what you want to do.”

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Speaking about her time in the competition, Diana describes it as an “incredibly stressful” experience.

“We filmed for seven months,” she explains. “You don't have a phone, it’s alcohol-free, I shared a room with three other girls, and you don't have any freedom as an adult.

“I didn't know what to expect, to be honest. I kind of went in with a very open mind and I think that kind of helped me because I didn't have high or low expectations, I just went with the flow.”

MasterChef’s Brent Draper holding the MasterChef trophy / Sashi Cheliah holding the MasterChef trophy.
Season 15 winner Brent Draper (left) says he plans on using part of his prize money to buy a boat. Photos: Channel 10

What have other winners spent their prize money on?

2023 champion Brent Draper told Yahoo Lifestyle following his win this week that his wife Shonleigh has set some strict rules for how he can spend the $250,000 prize.

“Look, the wife’s laid down a law I can only buy one fun thing with it, which will be my boat because I’m a mad fisherman,” he said. “So I've been allowed a certain amount of money, and then the rest will obviously go to investments and a cookbook. That’s one of the things that I want to work hard on straightaway.”

Season 10 winner Sashi Cheliah also told Yahoo Lifestyle he put all of his prize money towards opening his first restaurant, Gaja by Sashi, in Adelaide.

“Actually, $250,000 is not enough to set up a restaurant or a business of what I was planning to do,” he shared. “Originally, I planned to do a small takeaway or a café kind of a concept. But my win in the competition and the kind of exposure I got because of MasterChef made me set up something that I never even imagined.

“So I started doing pop-ups, travelling overseas and learning a lot from different chefs on how they go about doing restaurants because it's totally a different ballgame when it comes to cooking for a small group to cooking for a restaurant. So everything went into the restaurant, on top of my savings.”

MasterChef’s Emelia Jackson holding the MasterChef trophy / Justin Narayan holding the MasterChef trophy.
Season 13 winner Justin Narayan (right) didn’t spend any of his prize money on himself. Photos: Channel 10

'I ended up donating a lot of it'

Season 12 winner Emelia Jackson told Yahoo Lifestyle that she and her partner bought a house with her winnings, while season 13’s Justin Narayan revealed he “wanted to be generous” with the money.

“I ended up donating a lot of it and giving some away to some people that I thought needed it more than me,” he told Yahoo Lifestyle. “And then made some investments for the rest of it.

“I actually didn't spend any of it [on myself]. I probably should have, in retrospect. But I was kind of like, I’m not going to buy anything flash, I'm not going to do anything, and I don't have any regrets with it.

“Sometimes I'm like, ‘Why did I give it away, I could’ve bought this now’, but at the same time I’m like, I never wanted money to control me. I always want to be generous with it. There's heaps more where it came from. Just be generous, keep helping people, and things will work out.”

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