NEW YORK — Amazon founder Jeff Bezos said he will give away most of his wealth during his lifetime and become the latest billionaire to pledge to donate much of his vast fortune.
Bezos, whose “real-time” value TBEN magazine estimates at about $124.1 billion, made the announcement in a joint CNN interview with his girlfriend Lauren Sanchez released Monday. The billionaire has not specified how – or to whom – he will give the money away, but said the couple was building the “capacity” to do it.
“The hardest part is figuring out how to do it in a leveraged way,” Bezos said during the interview. “It’s not easy. Building Amazon wasn’t easy. It took a lot of hard work and very smart teammates. And I’m finding – and that’s Lauren’s finding – that philanthropy is very similar. It’s not easy. It is very difficult.”
Bezos had been criticized in the past for failing to sign the Giving Pledge, the campaign launched by Bill Gates, Melinda French Gates and Warren Buffet to encourage billionaires to donate most of their wealth through philanthropy.
His ex-wife McKenzie Scott signed that pledge in 2019 and has since become a formidable force in the world of philanthropy, showering charities across the country with unexpected – and often secret – contributions. Over the past three years, she has given more than $12 billion to historically black colleges and universities, women’s rights organizations, and other nonprofits.
Bezos, who divorced Scott in 2019, stepped down as Amazon CEO last year to devote more time to philanthropy and other projects. Among other things, he has pledged $10 billion to fight climate change as part of his Bezos Earth Fund initiative. Last year, he donated $510.7 million to charities, according to The Chronicle of Philanthropy.
On Saturday, Bezos and Sanchez announced they will be giving a $100 million no-obligation grant to singer Dolly Parton, who has been praised for her philanthropic work helping create the Moderna vaccine for COVID-19. Bezos had given a similar grant to chef José Andrés and CNN commentator Van Jones last year.
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