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Jeff Bezos says he will give away most of his money

November 14, 2022

The Amazon founder said he was still working out the details, and that philanthropy "is very hard." His fortune is valued at around $124 billion.

Jeff Bezos and Lauren Sanchez in London in August 2022
Jeff Bezos and his partner Lauren Sanchez were "building the capacity to be able to give away this money"Image: Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos vowed in an interview published Monday to donate most of his vast fortune during his lifetime.

"The hard part is figuring out how to do it in a levered way," Bezos said in a joint CNN interview with his partner Lauren Sanchez.

Forbes magazine estimates his "real-time'' worth to be roughly $124 billion (€120 billion).

Bezos, once the world's wealthiest man — but now only in fourth place — didn't give an exact amount to give away but said he and Sanchez were building the "capacity'' to do it.

"It's not easy. Building Amazon was not easy. It took a lot of hard work and very smart teammates. And I'm finding — and Lauren's finding — that philanthropy is very similar. It's not easy. It's really hard," he said.

Shortly after the interview was released, The New York Times reported that Amazon planned to lay off approximately 10,000 people, in what would be the largest cuts in the company's history.

Bezos stepped down as Amazon CEO last year, taking up the role of executive chair to devote more time to philanthropy and other projects.

Bezos donates $100m to Dolly Parton

Bezos has committed $10 billion over 10 years to fight climate change as part of his Bezos Earth Fund initiative, which Sanchez co-chairs. According to The Chronicle of Philanthropy, he gave $510.7 million to nonprofits last year.

Bezos and Sanchez on Saturday announced they were giving Dolly Parton $100 million to give to charities of her choosing.

He said that Parton "gives with heart" and praised the music legend on her promotion of children's literacy.

He had given a similar grant to chef Jose Andres and CNN commentator Van Jones last year.

Billionaire philanthropy

Bezos had been criticized in the past for not signing the Giving Pledge, the campaign launched in 2010 by Bill Gates, Melinda French Gates and Warren Buffet to encourage billionaires to donate the majority of their wealth through philanthropy.

It has over 230 signatories from 28 different countries.

Bezos has been under pressure to donate more after his ex-wife, author MacKenzie Scott, in 2019 committed to donating half of her vast wealth after their divorce.

In 2015 Meta's Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan said they would give away 99% of their shares on Facebook to good causes.

lo/fb (AP, AFP)