Amazon founder Jeff Bezos’ ex-wife, MacKenzie Bezos, became the world’s 22nd richest person (per the Bloomberg Billionaires Index) overnight after she settled her divorce with the world’s richest man less than two months ago. Turns out, she doesn’t want to keep much of it anyway and has decided to donate the majority of her fortune—through a philanthropic vehicle that her ex-husband famously refused to join.
The former Mrs. Bezos has signed the Giving Pledge, an initiative founded by Warren Buffett and Bill and Melinda Gates in 2010 to encourage the world’s wealthiest individuals and families to give away at least half of their fortunes to charitable causes.
The Giving Pledge announced MacKenzie Bezos’ participation on Tuesday along with 18 other new signatories, among which included Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong (as Observer previously reported), WhatsApp co-founder Brian Acton and Pinterest co-founder Paul Sciarra, who earned his billionaire status just last month thanks to Pinterest’s IPO.
“The generosity of this group is a reflection of the inspiration we take from the many millions of people who work quietly and effectively to create a better world for others, often at great personal sacrifice,” Buffett said in a statement on Tuesday.
“I have a disproportionate amount of money to share,” MacKenzie Bezos said in a letter dated May 25 and published Tuesday. “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.”
In November 2018, Jeff Bezos pledged $2 billion to his own charitable venture, the Day One Fund, which was established under both his and MacKenzie’s names. The Day One Fund supports two main areas of social causes: homelessness and poverty, and preschool education in low-income communities.
MacKenzie Bezos is also the founder and executive director of the anti-bullying group Bystander Revolution, which has done work with celebrities including Monica Lewinsky.
Married to Jeff Bezos for over 25 years, MacKenzie Bezos was legally entitled to half of the Amazon CEO’s $140 billion fortune. But she settled the divorce by taking only a quarter of her and Jeff Bezos’ shared Amazon ownership, worth approximately $36 billion.
The settlement made MacKenzie Bezos the fourth richest woman in the world, next to L’Oreal heiress Françoise Bettencourt Meyers, Walmart heiress Alice Walton and Mars Inc.’s co-owner Jacqueline Badger Mars.