Bezos will devote the money to fighting climate change and supporting those who seek to unify people amid wide social and political divisions, the billionaire told CNN, the first time he has committed to such a pledge.
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Bezos is worth US$123.9 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, a fortune that has declined almost US$70 billion this year, but has surged in the past decade as his e-commerce giant raced past rivals.
Bezos, 58, has focused more attention on his philanthropy in recent years while also assuming a much larger public role, acquiring the Washington Post newspaper in 2013 as well as luxury homes in New York, Los Angeles and Hawaii. A US$500 million yacht he commissioned is under construction in the Netherlands, and he’s among those interested in bidding for the NFL’s Washington Commanders, possibly with music mogul Jay-Z as an investor.
Bezos has drawn criticism for not signing the Giving Pledge, a promise by many of the world’s richest people to donate the majority of their wealth to charitable causes. For years he largely stayed on the philanthropy sidelines, instead focusing on Amazon and Blue Origin, his for-profit space-exploration company.
But recently Bezos has committed billions of dollars to charity and has increased the pace of his giving since stepping down as Amazon’s chief executive officer last year.
His ex-wife MacKenzie Scott has sent more than US$12 billion to nonprofits since the two split in 2019, mostly focusing on smaller charities in the U.S. that are often overlooked by larger donors.
Bezos has set his attention on climate change with his US$10 billion Earth Fund and also announced a US$200 million gift to the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum.
On Saturday, he named Dolly Parton the latest recipient of his Courage and Civility award, handing the music legend US$100 million to direct to any charities she chooses. He previously awarded similar amounts to chef Jose Andres, whose World Central Kitchen feeds people in disaster-stricken areas, and Van Jones, the founder of Dream.Org.