Last week Jeff Bezos announced that he was going to step down as CEO of Amazon, the mega-corporation he created, earlier than expected. Why? In part because he wants to go to space. While the world’s richest person was using his imaginable wealth to nurse a childhood dream, his ex-wife was donating billions to organizations that seek to make the world a better place. And when news broke, people couldn’t help but point out which was the better half in the marriage.
As per The New York Times, MacKenzie Scott, formerly Bezos, along with her husband Dan Jewett, has decided to give $2.74 billion to organizations involving the arts and the fight against racial discrimination. Her divorce from the Amazon honcho in 2019 left her with $36 billion in company stock. Since then that number has ballooned to almost $60 billion, much of it during the pandemic, which saw the company — and Bezos’ already unimaginable wealth — grow far richer, all while many, including Amazon employees, suffered.
But unlike her ex-husband, Scott has no interest in hording her wealth, or spending it on things like space travel. She’s always promised to give her riches away “until the safe is empty.” Indeed, this isn’t the first time she’s tried to empty her purse. Over the last 11 months, she’s donated some $8 billion, mostly to nonprofits. Last year alone she gave $6 billion to 500 organizations. Among the 286 she’s donating to in this latest dump include the Alaska Native Heritage Center, Broward College in Florida, and Jazz at Lincoln Center. The average donation is around $10 million each.
Scott is operating differently than other charitable billionaires, such as Warren Buffett and Bill and Melinda Gates (the latter also soon to be an ex). She doesn’t have a foundation. Instead she gives money when she likes, writing about where she’s giving to and why on blog posts on Medium. These posts also include her ruminating about philanthropy, with her saying she wants “to de-emphasize privileged voices and cede focus to others.”
When news broke that at least someone whose wealth is tied to Amazon was trying to pay it forward, it was met with fulsome praise.
I’m all for MacKenzie Scott taking half Jeff Besos’ money at the time and redistributing wealth by giving away over $8B of it since July 2020. She was clearly the better half when she was married to him.
— Ricky Davila (@TheRickyDavila) June 15, 2021
Mackenzie Scott does it again donating $2.7bn & blasting the wealth gap.
Braver than Jeff Bezos, Warren Buffett & Bill Gates combined, because they ABSOLUTELY know she’s right and knew decades agohttps://t.co/p0xWGqajyz
— Stephanie Ruhle (@SRuhle) June 15, 2021
Mackenzie Scott took half of Jeff Bezos' money and just gave $40 million to UCF. Salute to an absolute Queen. https://t.co/qrtnbTBhlz
— J.P. Gilbert (@jpgilbert) June 15, 2021
Others dwelled more on her considerably less philanthropic ex.
Jeff: fuck I'm going to space.
Mackenzie: gives money to the Apollo Theatre, Ballet Hispanico, and shelters for domestic violence survivors.
No wonder they divorced. https://t.co/LESlHZnGaU
— A Shady Dame From Seville (@SorayaMcDonald) June 15, 2021
it's very clear that mackenzie scott was the better half of that relationship
— Kelly Arko (@karkopolo) June 15, 2021
There were jokes.
MacKenzie Scott giving away billions of dollars pic.twitter.com/uyYDQkHrt9
— Tyler (gay) (@airercode500) June 15, 2021
— Van-Kim Lin (@vankimlin1) June 15, 2021
And there were reminders that maybe waiting around for billionaires to do the right thing isn’t a solid game plan for making the world a better place.
This is wonderful and MacKenzie Scott should be praised and also just a reminder that leaving economic systems to the whims of individual billionaires is not a substitute for a fair tax code https://t.co/V0XJml3jsh
— maura quint (@behindyourback) June 15, 2021
The best way to offer thanks and praise to MacKenzie Scott for giving away her own wealth is to make that example a matter of law in our tax code by making the extremely wealthy pay their fair share.
— Charlotte Clymer 🏳️🌈 (@cmclymer) June 15, 2021
It’s nice that Mackenzie Scott is donating that money, but we should really not have to rely on the whims of billionaires. We should just tax them https://t.co/cIbLGkOphg
— David Gardner (@byDavidGardner) June 15, 2021
While his ex-wife is being praised for being a good person, Bezos himself was being trolled with jokey Change.org petitions that called him out for what he’s done — and what he hasn’t, namely paying his fair share in taxes.