MacKenzie Bezos pledges to give half of her $36 billion fortune to charity

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Jeff Bezos cheated on his wife MacKenzie Bezos last year, and they separated in the fall. They didn’t announce their split until earlier this year, when the National Enquirer was about to “out” Jeff Bezos’ affair with Lauren Sanchez. The men around Jeff Bezos – his security and money people, his fixers and advisors – all told him to just stay with MacKenzie and work things out rather than divorce. He didn’t listen. Their divorce was handled quickly and quietly, with no tabloid drama and MacKenzie Bezos got a tidy divorce settlement of $36.6 billion, which was about one-quarter of the Bezos’ net worth as a couple. I hoped MacKenzie would announce that she was going to spend all of her divorce settlement on shoes, purses and jewelry, but no, MacKenzie is pledging to give half of her money 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 Warren Buffett and Bill and Melinda Gates in 2010 and has so far attracted the support of 204 individuals and families. 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 “I have 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 May 25 and published Tuesday. 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.

[From CNN]

Yeah I’m not going to lavish praise on MacKenzie or any of the other billionaires pledging part of their fortunes to charity. I mean, it’s good that these people know that you can’t take it with you in the end and all of that. But all I can focus on is that MacKenzie is now worth $36.6 billion and she’s ONLY 22nd on the Billionaire Index. There’s already a class war going on and this is not the way the economy should function. Also: chica is still going to have 18 BILLION to play around with, you know?

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Photos courtesy of WENN.

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46 Responses to “MacKenzie Bezos pledges to give half of her $36 billion fortune to charity”

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  1. ME says:

    I really love the Giving Pledge and those that have signed on to it. A lot of them are actively putting their money into philanthropic efforts and I applaud them for that. Really shines a light on all those that put their money to cause further harm and gain control of the world/resources (i.e. Saudi Arabia royalty, Kochs, Mercers, Walmart heirs, etc).

    • BlueOrange says:

      These people are still giving very little in terms of what they have. Lets be real, it’s good that they’re not hoarding all that money but they have no idea what it’s really worth. The bank account dysmorphia is real, just as the competition among them is real. If Benzos for example have away 95% of his wealth tomorrow, he’d still have more to live on for the rest of his life than most people wold ever see. Billionaires donate to charity and walk around thinking they’re brilliant human beings for their outstanding contributions because who can really match such figures… and yet they’re the real problem anyway. Where is the majority of wealth while so many people are struggling to make ends meet? Oh yeah, they still have it.

  2. Patty says:

    Eh. They both were clearly ready to move on. Good for her I suppose; I’ll wait to see what kind of philanthropic pursuits she chooses before making any judgment beyond that.

  3. Arb says:

    I am going to lavish praise on her. She pledged to give at least half of her money to charity and to do it soon. That’s amazing. Yes, I think inheritance tax over 10 million should be 99% but, for now, thank you to the people setting the groundwork.

    • Rich says:

      Imagine thinking that someone KEEPING 18 billion to themselves that they did nothing to earn is admirable in any way (I do not think Jeff Bezos earned his half either). You can’t even spend 18 billion in a single individual life time. It’s an unfathomable number. If you had 36 billion and gave away 35 billion you would still be one of the richest people to have ever lived.

  4. TheBeebs says:

    She doesn’t have $36 billion in liquid assets that she can give away. The bulk of her settlement is stock options and ownership shares in Amazon (which she could sell, but it would be smarter to keep them so she can continue generating wealth which she will hopefully continue to give away.) Don’t get me wrong, no one needs even $1 billion and I’m firmly in the “eat the rich” camp. But the article makes it sound like Bezos’ lawyers handed her a duffel bag with $36 billion cash in it, which definitely wasn’t the case.

    • another Nina says:

      Does she really need only cash for charity purposes? Why can’t she contribute securities, for example, for Metropolitan museum portfolio? The last time I looked at it was about 15 years ago, and it contained all sorts of securities, including stakes in private equity funds and other risky assets…

  5. Jenns says:

    Where did she get that money? Did she earn it? Or was it made off of the backs of Americans who are overworked and underpaid. And did the company that made all this money avoid paying taxes and squash it’s competitors? It’s just ridiculous that anyone has this much wealth and how that wealth is made.

  6. Lovelight says:

    This is wonderful, and is setting a great example. She’s giving BILLIONS OF DOLLARS to charity!!! And here’s people saying they’d rather her spend the money on frivolous crap and perpetuate the greed in this world. Ugh!

    • Sayrah says:


    • anon says:

      Some people are in love with capitalism so much to the point that the only part of it they resent is not being billionaires themselves. Someone giving away half of their fortune is actually offensive to them.

  7. Moco says:

    Good for her, but if she wants to make a real difference in the world, she should use that money to lobby politicians for billionaires and companies like Amazon to actually have to pay their dang taxes at a rate approaching the rest of us worker bees. Philanthropy is absolutely wrong way to go after the worlds’ problems.

  8. JRenee says:

    Her ex husband spurned signing on for years, she signed as an independently wealthy woman. Good on her!

  9. mk says:

    Tax these people at 90% and we can have healthcare for all, education for all.

    • KHLBHL says:

      I don’t oppose taxing the rich more, but I want to add this to the conversation:

      The 550 U.S. billionaires together are worth about $2.5 trillion. Which is a lot. Absolutely.

      But even if we confiscated 100% of their wealth, we would only raise enough to run the government for less than 8 months….not even a full year…

      Maybe our issue isn’t just how much billionaires have but how much politicians spend. I think that even if we did raise taxes, a lot of that would not go toward healthcare, education but instead to more useless programs and government/military bloat. One could argue that billionaires giving their wealth away (instead of being taxed) goes more directly to causes they’re passionate about, instead of through the hands of corrupt government officials.

      • Baltimom says:

        First off, don’t confuse politicians with government officials. Government officials worked their way through the ranks and generally tend to safeguard the money. It’s the political appointees (especially the latest crop) in government agencies that fritter the money away. Second, charities aren’t going to take care of our crumbling infrastructure nor are they going to provide what Americans really want and that is good paying jobs. Third, charities aren’t always on the up and up either. Plenty of stories of money getting in the wrong person’s hands from that side too. Fourth, many charities are tied to religious organizations. That’s great if you are a member – not so much if you are not. As for MB and JB, they should use their money to reward Amazon employees for their comfy lifestyles.

  10. Meg says:

    Amazon needs to pay taxes

  11. Algernon says:

    It is commendable of her to give away so much money, but lbr, the way that money makes money, she’ll earn it all back in a couple years. It’s nice for the people it benefits, but the giving pledge is a giant shell game.

  12. Felicia says:

    As a couple, they resisted doing this for years. As a single woman, this is the first public move she’s made.

    That’s quite a statement about her values and also those of her ex-husband. Mind you, he’ll probably need to spend his money to keep Hoochy-Mama happy.

    • Jenns says:

      Or, it’s a PR stunt to make herself look better, which is pretty much what these billionaires want when they announce these grand gestures.

      And yes, I’m cynical. But this is never about philanthropy to me. When one person can amass this much wealth while millions of people can’t even afford food to eat, then the system is rotten to the core.

      • joe does says:

        Based on BMI, there aren’t millions of people in America who can’t afford food to eat.

      • Algernon says:

        @ joe

        The BMI proves there are millions who can’t afford to eat. Too many people live in food deserts where they do not have reliable access to fresh food, and so rely on cheap fast food, which causes weight gain, etc etc etc.

      • joe does says:

        The food desert hypothesis hasn’t really been proven to be true.

      • Algernon says:

        I’ve seen that study but it’s a circular argument. People make their choices based on what they can afford, even when grocery stores are opened in low-income areas, the residents still can’t afford the fresh produce, etc, and so keep buying low-nutrition food because it is cheap (malt-o-meal versus Quaker Oats, canned peaches versus fresh). It’s not enough to just put the stores in low income neighborhoods, the food also needs to be affordable. That study comes from University of Chicago, yet it does not mention the number of local-grower CSAs in Chicago which make fresh produce available to low income areas. The “ugly produce” CSA, in particular, has had great success in low income Chicago neighborhoods because they can sell fresh produce at discounted rates. Time and again it has been shown in low income neighborhoods, through CSAs, through IGA stores that offer local discounts, through community garden projects, when the food is made available *and* affordable, people will choose it, but it has to be *affordable*. Availability is only half the equation.

      • Veronica S. says:

        If you’re going to post a link as a rebuttal, you need to actually read what the study is saying instead of just the headline. Because the headline is a great example of an article intended to grab your attention and manipulate readers who don’t bother to seriously interrogate what’s being stated in the study.

        What the study found is that having access to better food does not necessarily lead to improved habits. It does NOT disprove that food deserts do not have an impact on those restricted by them. What it is suggesting is that simply dumping money into the infrastructure to provide food accessibility via placement of supermarkets isn’t an automatic fix to the problem. It requires a top down approach to making certain people have access to nutritional education so they understand why better choices are important in the long term. That they have access to the time necessary to cook healthier food. In other words, the issue isn’t “lol fat people need to eat less,” it’s “complex socioeconomic factors are at play affecting people’s choices and eating habits.”

        It’s literally an apples to oranges debate. The reason why people don’t buy healthy food in a food desert is completely different from the reasons why those NOT living in a food desert don’t, either. All that study proves is that there are more factors at play than just the food desert itself.

      • anon says:

        Maybe she “feels” better by doing it ? Not everything is about “looks”.

  13. Mumbles says:

    Charity is nice but unless you’re committed to attacking *inequality*, you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem. And I suspect a lot of these billionaires don’t really care about inequality.

  14. ME says:

    I think it’s great she’s willing to do that. There are A LOT of rich people who are greedy and obsessed with money who would NEVER donate a dime. That money will be donated wisely I am sure.

  15. Jen says:

    At first I wondered why a pic of his girlfriend was in this post but realized he just has a clear type that he goes for.

  16. Murekatete says:

    I live in Rwanda (US Citizen) – my Lord, what I would not do for people from my home in the U.P. and in this country with that money. It would be such a gigantic blessing. Both to developing countries, the US and Rwanda.

    • Felicia says:

      Having been to Rwanda a few years ago, there seemed to have been a fair amount of aid money in circulation already. Your country is beautiful btw, but I’m not sure your politicians would make any better use of that amount of money than those in the US would.

  17. Jane says:

    You know how they could really give back? By paying their employees a decent salary, so that said employees wouldn’t have to turn to food stamps for a decent meal!! Buy providing a decent health insurance plan and a retirement fund! They wouldn’t have so much money to give away if they did the decent thing in the first place!

  18. Veronica S. says:

    LOL, please. She’d still be one of the wealthiest women in the world at $18 billion. PR, all of it. Their fortune literally could have solved world hunger for nearly half a decade and STILL had enough left over for them to be billionaires That’s how much money those two had. Think about that for a minute.

    The ultra wealthy are rushing in the era of powerful technology and mass population control because they know the guillotine is coming unless they do otherwise.

  19. Kathryn says:

    At a certain threshold of wealth (cough Jeff Bezos) there’s no reason to keep all of it, it literally cannot even be spent even with the most lavish spending. The amount of interest it’s generating monthly alone is insane.

    • Starkiller says:

      This is something I have always struggled to understand. Why do people hoard wealth this way? At what point is it enough? This man has more money than he could spend in many lifetimes, even if he lived lavishly. Is it genuinely a type of hoarding behavior?

      • Deering24 says:

        Because no matter how much they have, it’s never enough to make them feel safe, powerful, or secure. Folks who hoard wealth are driven by the deep fear/neurosis that it will all go away suddenly somehow—and they’ll be exposed as vulnerable useless losers.

  20. Juliet says:

    How is donating $18 BILLION to charity not worth praise? Are you kidding? Because she still has a lot of money?
    Like half of her net worth isn’t enough? Get out of here. The good 18 BILLION dollars could do is unfathomable.

    • ME says:

      Exactly !

    • Rich says:

      It’s impossible to spend 18 billion dollars in a single life time unless you’re a small country. If she gave away 99% of her wealth she would still be one of the wealthiest people to have ever lived in human history. The fact that she thinks she deserves to keep 18 billion to herself is disgusting. Her husband made that money by paying workers as little as legally possible and pushing them to abusive limits.

  21. SJR says:

    Good for her. I hope she chooses existing charities that already have good records of the donations getting to the need, not administrative costs. Imagine the progress that could be made with that amount of money in medical research. Diseases wiped out, new treatments, lives saved, pick an issue and throw $$ at it.
    Why do the super wealthy hoard their money? How can they justify it?
    No one needs wealth at that enormous amount.
    I wish all the super wealthy would make donations to charity.
    Ted Turner, Bill and Melinda Gates, Warren Buffet, they all made their wealth in business plus employed many, many folks. They have all said they plan to leave large amounts to charity which is great.
    Now, think about the wealthy celebs in the entertainment field, Cruise, Oprah, Reeves, Harrison Ford, Springsteen, Spielberg, McCartney, Pitt, are the first to come to my mind….yes, they do give to charity and are often private about it but, IMO, they can afford to give much more.

  22. Magz says:

    She was married to the guy who made and owns amazon.