Amazon founder Jeff Bezos says he will give away the bulk of his massive fortune during his lifetime, signaling in a CNN interview for the first time that he would join a growing list of billionaires who have made similar pledges.
Bezos has a net worth of $124 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. In an interview with CNN’s Chloe Melas, the world’s fourth-richest man said that he and his partner Lauren Sanchez were “building the capacity to be able to give away this money.”
“And the hard part is figuring out how to do it in a levered way,” he said in the interview from his Washington, D.C., home. “It’s not easy. Building Amazon was not easy. It took a lot of hard work, a bunch of very smart teammates, and I’m finding – and I think Lauren is finding the same thing – that philanthropy is very similar.”
Bezos made much of his fortune by founding and running e-commerce giant Amazon, which he started in late 1994. He stepped down as CEO of the company last year, but remains executive chair of its board. He owns the Washington Post and Blue Origin, a rocket company.
Bezos has been criticized in the past for not signing the Giving Pledge, a movement that requires signatories to give away most of their wealth during their lifetimes or in their wills. Warren Buffett, Mike Bloomberg, Bill Gates and Bezos’ ex-wife, MacKenzie Scott, have all signed it.
Bezos did not say during the interview whether he planned to sign the pledge.
Scott, who was married to Bezos for 25 years before they divorced in 2019, has become a prominent philanthropist, bestowing gifts on organizations from the Girl Scouts of the USA to Planned Parenthood and many others. In a blog post last March, she announced she had given away $3.8 billion to 465 nonprofits in the past nine months.
Bezos, meanwhile, has faced pushback in the past for not giving away more of his fortune. But the entrepreneur has seemingly been more focused on donating in recent years, including creating the Bezos Earth Fund in 2020, which said it will provide $10 billion to various scientists and organizations to fight climate change.
This weekend, Bezos and Sanchez gave $100 million to Dolly Parton, along with the Courage and Civility Award. The country music legend, who has several long-standing philanthropic projects, can gift the money to any charitable organization of her choosing.
Bezos touted Parton’s “civility and kindness” in his CNN interview.
“She’s a unifier,” he said. “You know, we have big problems in the world. And the way to get big problems done is you have to work together.”
Last year, Bezos presented the award and $100 million each to chef and disaster relief specialist José Andrés and CNN commentator and activist Van Jones.
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