Lauren Sánchez Opens Up About Jeff Bezos's Pledge to Donate Most of His Wealth In His Lifetime
Amazon founder Jeff Bezos shared in November 2022 that he plans to give away the majority of his wealth, estimated around $124 billion, in his lifetime. Bezos told CNN that he and wife Lauren Sánchez are "building the capacity to be able to give away this money." When CNN specifically asked Bezos if he plans to donate the majority of his wealth, he responded, "Yeah, I do," but declined to go into specifics.
Bezos, unlike his ex-wife MacKenzie Scott, has not signed the Giving Pledge, a "promise by the world's wealthiest individuals and families to dedicate the majority of their wealth to charitable causes." However, with his interview, Bezos indicated his support of the Giving Pledge's mission. Previously, Bezos has committed $10 billion over a decade to the Bezos Earth Fund.
"The hard part is figuring out how to do it in a levered way," Bezos said. "It’s not easy. Building Amazon was not easy. It took a lot of hard work, a bunch of very smart teammates, hard-working teammates, and I’m finding—and I think Lauren is finding the same thing— that charity, philanthropy, is very similar."
"There are a bunch of ways that I think you could do ineffective things, too," he continued. "So you have to think about it carefully and you have to have brilliant people on the team."
A few months later in January 2023, Sánchez expanded further on Bezos's pledge. "Jeff has always told me, since I’ve known him, that he’s going to give the majority of his money to philanthropy," she told the Wall Street Journal. When he revealed it to CNN, it made headlines, but Sánchez said it was "not surprising to me at all. He just never felt the need to have to say it."
Elsewhere in the conversation, she says, "We’re very thoughtful in our approach to philanthropy and how we give, because we want to get involved with the people that we’re giving to." She added, "We believe in investing in individuals who are closest to the ground, working hands-on with the people whose lives we all hope to positively touch and transform. Work across the political divide is exceedingly and unfortunately rare today."
The CNN interview in which Bezos initially revealed his commitment to give away most of his wealth was taped at their Washington, D.C. home and was meant to focus on the Bezos Courage and Civility Award—a relatively new $100 million annual award for recipients to direct the money to charities as they see fit. This year, Bezos awarded it to Dolly Parton. (Past recipients are activist Van Jones and humanitarian chef José Andrés.)
"When you think of Dolly, look, everyone smiles, right? She is just beaming with light," Sánchez said. "And all she wants to do is bring light into other people’s worlds. And so we couldn’t have thought of someone better than to give this award to Dolly, and we know she’s going to do amazing things with it."
Parton responded to the news, "Wow! Did you say $100 million? When people are in a position to help, you should help, and I know that I’ve always said I try to put my money where my heart is… I will do my best to do good things with this money."
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