MacKenzie Bezos, Worth Nearly $37 Billion, Will Give Half Her Fortune to Charity

MacKenzie Bezos has promised to give at least half of her fortune to charity, just months after finalizing her divorce from the world’s richest man.

The newly minted billionaire has signed the Giving Pledge, which encourages the world’s richest people to dedicate a majority of their wealth to charitable causes, either during their lifetimes or in their wills.

The initiative was launched by Berkshire Hathaway Inc’s Warren Buffett and Microsoft co-founder Bill and Melinda Gates in 2010 and has so far attracted the support of 204 individuals and families.

MacKenzie Bezos will be the fourth-richest woman
Following her divorce from Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, MacKenzie Bezos will be the fourth-richest woman in the world. (Jerod Harris/Getty Images)

MacKenzie Bezos became one of the richest people in the world following her divorce from Amazon founder Jeff Bezos earlier this year. She ranks 22nd on the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

Her personal fortune is now worth an estimated $36.6 billion. Her former husband leads the global rankings with a net worth of roughly $114 billion.

MacKenzie Bezos said in a letter announcing the move that she has “a disproportionate amount of money to share.”

“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,” she said in the letter, which was dated on May 25 and published on Tuesday.

“There are lots of resources each of us can pull from our safes to share with others—time, attention, knowledge, patience, creativity, talent, effort, humor, compassion … These immediate results are only the beginning. Their value keeps multiplying and spreading in ways we may never know.”

MacKenzie Bezos was one of 19 new Giving Pledge signatories announced on Tuesday.

The group also included Brian Acton, the co-founder of WhatsApp, Paul Sciarra, the co-founder of Pinterest and Brian Armstrong, the CEO of Coinbase, a cryptocurrency exchange.

“The generosity of this group is a reflection of the inspiration we take from the many millions of people who work quietly and effectively to create a better world for others, often at great personal sacrifice,” Buffett said in a statement on Tuesday.

mackenzie bezos
Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO, and his wife Mackenzie Bezos arrive at the Allen & Co. annual conference in Sun Valley, Idaho, on July 12, 2013. (Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

The Bezoses have four children together during their 25-year marriage. They first announced their divorce plans in January. MacKenzie said she will give to Jeff Bezos all her interest in The Washington Post, which he acquired in 2013, and Blue Origin, a space exploration company he founded.

The two met in New York in the early 1990s while working at a hedge fund. They married just six months after they began dating, Jeff Bezos has said.

Not long after that, he quit his job to start an online bookstore and the Bezoses took a cross-country road trip to Seattle, which was chosen for its high number of technology workers. While his wife did the driving, Jeff Bezos wrote a business plan. By 1995, Amazon was operating out of a garage, with MacKenzie Bezos helping out.

Amazon has grown way beyond those humble beginnings. It now produces movies, runs the Whole Foods grocery chain and has become the leader in voice-activated speakers. The company has become so large that it plans to build a second headquarters in Arlington, Virginia.

“I’m grateful for her support and for her kindness in this process,” Jeff Bezos said in a tweet Thursday. “And am very much looking forward to our new relationship as friends and co-parents.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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