MacKenzie Bezos Is Giving Away Half Of Her Fortune To Charity

Jeff and MacKenzie Bezos at Vanity Fair party.
Dia Dipasupil / Getty Images

MacKenzie Bezos may have made headlines last spring for her divorce from Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, but she is in the spotlight once more — this time, for an entirely different reason. Forbes is reporting that the world’s third richest woman has pledged to give away half of her estimated $36 billion fortune, the majority of it to charitable causes.

MacKenzie made the announcement by signing with The Giving Pledge, an initiative started by Bill Gates and Warren Buffet — and one that encourages the mega-wealthy to give a majority of their wealth to philanthropic endeavors. Other famous figures who have signed the pledge include Michael Bloomberg, Larry Ellison, and Richard Branson. All in all, The Giving Pledge has over 200 signatories. Jeff Bezos, who ranks as the world’s richest man, is not among them.

In an open letter on The Giving Pledge‘s website, MacKenzie explained that her decision was inspired by her love of literature. MacKenzie had majored in English at Princeton University, graduating summa cum laude and studying under renowned author Maya Angelou. Angelou said that MacKenzie was one of the “best students” she “ever had.”

In the letter, MacKenzie presents the idea that instead of “saving” good ideas or actions, it is better to act in the now.

“I have no doubt that tremendous value comes when people act quickly on the impulse to give. No drive has more positive ripple effects than the desire to be of service. There are lots of resources each of us can pull from our safes to share with others… and sure enough, something greater rises up every time we give,” MacKenzie wrote.

jeff and mackenzie bezos at haiti charity gala
  Michael Kovac / Getty Images

Though MacKenzie did not specify which charities or causes she will focus on, she did say that she will be “thoughtful” and will “take care” in her decisions.

“We each come by the gifts we have to offer by an infinite series of influences and lucky breaks we can never fully understand,” she added humbly.

“In addition to whatever assets life has nurtured in me, I have a disproportionate amount of money to share.”

MacKenzie became the world’s third richest woman after her split from Jeff Bezos, who founded the internet behemoth Amazon. The two had an amicable split after it was revealed that Bezos was in a relationship with news anchor Lauren Sanchez. She shares four children with her ex-husband.

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Since the news broke, Jeff Bezos has tweeted that is “proud” of his ex-wife.

MacKenzie first met Jeff Bezos while they were working together at hedge fund D.E. Shaw, in New York. Since then, MacKenzie has returned to her literary roots, and has published two works. In 2006, she won the American Book Award.