MacKenzie Bezos, one of the world’s richest women after her divorce from Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, joined a pledge to donate at least half her wealth — currently estimated to be around $37 billion — to charitable causes.
MacKenzie and Jeff Bezos finalized the terms of their divorce in April, under which she will get 25% of the shares in Amazon that were jointly held by the couple. On Tuesday, the Giving Pledge announced that she is one of 19 additional individuals who have signed on to the philanthropic initiative, founded in 2010 by Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett, which exhorts high-net-worth people to commit to giving away more than half their wealth.
Jeff Bezos, who will remain the richest individual in the world even after the divorce, has not signed on to the Giving Pledge to date.
“In addition to whatever assets life has nurtured in me, I have a disproportionate amount of money to share,” MacKenzie Bezos said in a statement. “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.”
Following their divorce, MacKenzie Bezos will hold shares representing about 4% of Amazon’s outstanding common stock for which she is granting Jeff full voting rights. She’s also giving her ex-husband her full interest in the Washington Post, which Jeff Bezos bought in 2013, and space-aeronautics company Blue Origin. The couple’s combined net worth currently is estimated at $151.4 billion, according to Forbes.
On Tuesday, Jeff Bezos praised MacKenzie’s decision to join the Giving Pledge but didn’t comment on whether he will follow suit. “MacKenzie is going to be amazing and thoughtful and effective at philanthropy, and I’m proud of her. Her letter is so beautiful. Go get ‘em MacKenzie,” Jeff Bezos wrote in a Twitter post.
In January, Jeff Bezos announced the couple’s plans to divorce after 25 years of marriage. Jeff Bezos, 55, and MacKenzie Bezos, 49, were married in 1993, after they met at hedge fund D.E. Shaw & Co. in New York City where Jeff Bezos was an SVP and MacKenzie Tuttle was a research associate. They are the parents of four children: three sons, and a daughter adopted from China.
Jeff Bezos last year began dating Lauren Sanchez, the wife of Endeavor executive chairman Patrick Whitesell. Sanchez and Whitesell, who were married in 2005, separated last fall.
MacKenzie Bezos has supported marriage equality through Washington United for Marriage; transitional housing for homeless families through the Day 1 Families Fund; college scholarships for undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as minors through TheDream.US; and efforts to reduce political polarization through With Honor, a nonpartisan organization that works to increase the number of veterans in public office.
She also has funded cancer research through donations to the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, and Alzheimer’s research through the Diagnostics Accelerator at the Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation. In 2013, she founded Bystander Revolution, an anti-bullying organization, where she serves as executive director.