The year one winner was promised a million-dollar restaurant. He ended up with "a big check and some snazzy kitchen equipment." Season three of Hell's Kitchen showed the season one winner as some sort of big shot, but that's apparently a lie: http://la.eater.com/archives/2007/06/07/tatou_wheres_michael_wray.php The season two winner was promised the Executive Chef position at the Red Rock Casino and Spa in Las Vegas. She was supposedly also eligible for a financial interest in the restaurant and to assist in its design. Instead, she gets the job of "senior chef," and her contract was discontinued after one year. http://la.eater.com/archives/2007/02/14/hells_kitchen_la_connections_spoilers_and_empty_promises.php Season three's winner appears to have actually gotten the prize he was promised, but it's still early. We'll probably get more news as his story develops. So, is Hell's Kitchen a rip-off?