MacKenzie Bezos will give away at least half her estimated $36 billion fortune to charity, she announced Tuesday.
“We each come by the gifts we have to offer by an infinite series of influences and lucky breaks we can never fully understand. In addition to whatever assets life has nurtured in me, I have a disproportionate amount of money to share,” Bezos said in a letter dated Tuesday. “My approach to philanthropy will continue to be thoughtful. It will take time and effort and care. But I won’t wait. And I will keep at it until the safe is empty.”
Bezos, a novelist and one of the driving forces behind Amazon, announced that she has signed on to the Giving Pledge, whose international roster includes Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, Mark Zuckerberg, Michael Bloomberg and Robert F. Smith. The move comes just months after she finalized her divorce from Amazon founder and chief executive Jeff Bezos, the world’s richest man.
Bezos didn’t specify how she would distribute her wealth through the Giving Pledge. Her philanthropy to date has focused on marriage equality, transitional housing for homeless families, and college scholarships for undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as minors. In 2013, she founded Bystander Revolution, an anti-bullying organization, for which she is the executive director.
The couple split earlier this year after 25 years of marriage, just before Jeff Bezos’s relationship with a former news anchor became public and the National Enquirer published intimate phone-text exchanges and photographs. Under the terms of the divorce settlement announced in April, he retained 75 percent of the couple’s Amazon stock and voting power over their combined shares. She was awarded roughly 4 percent of Amazon.
Jeff Bezos, who is worth over $100 billion, was also awarded all of the couple’s joint holdings in The Washington Post and the space flight company, Blue Origin.
Bezos has not joined the Giving Pledge. But last year, he dedicated $2 billion to help homeless families and launch a network of preschools. The commitment made him the country’s largest donor in 2018. In September, he and MacKenzie Bezos also gave $10 million to the veteran-focused super PAC With Honor, marking their first major political venture.
Still, the Amazon CEO has been criticized for not doing more, especially when compared with Gates, Buffett or Zuckerberg, who has said that he and his wife, Priscilla Chan, plan to donate 99 percent of their Facebook shares to such causes as eliminating “all disease in our children’s lifetime.”