With an estimated net worth of $124.1 billion, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos made a pledge in a new interview that he plans on donating most of that wealth to charity within his lifetime. Talking to CNN’s Chloe Melas Monday (November 14) alongside his partner, former news anchor Lauren Sánchez, Bezos said the couple is “building the capacity to be able to give away this money.” When asked directly whether he intends to donate the majority of his wealth within his lifetime, Bezos, 58, said, “Yeah, I do.”
Though Bezos’ vow was light on specifics, despite being the fourth-wealthiest person in the world, according to Forbes, he said most of his donations will go toward fighting climate change and to people who can unify humanity in the face of deep social and political divisions. Bezos has committed $10 billion over 10 years, or about 8% of his current net worth, to the Bezos Earth Fund, which Sánchez co-chairs. Among its priorities are reducing the carbon footprint of construction-grade cement and steel; pushing financial regulators to consider climate-related risks; advancing data and mapping technologies to monitor carbon emissions; and building natural, plant-based carbon sinks on a large scale, per CNN.
Until now, Bezos had not officially signed on to the Giving Pledge, a promise by hundreds of the world’s richest people to commit to giving away more than half their wealth to charitable causes. Bezos is now Amazon’s executive chair but not its CEO (he owns less than 10% of Amazon’s shares), since he stepped down from that role in 2021. Though Amazon pledged to reduce their carbon footprint by 2040 according to the principles of the Paris Climate Agreement, Amazon’s footprint grew by 18% in 2021, reflecting a pandemic-driven e-commerce boom.
Bezos said of his philanthropic strategy, “The hard part is figuring out how to do it in a levered way,” he said, implying that even as he gives away his billions, he is still looking for a return. “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.”