How Bezos’ ex-wife is spending her billions

Mackenzie Scott became one of the world's wealthiest woman this year following her divorce from husband of 25 years, Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos.

And now a new list has confirmed she's not just rich, but powerful as well, with Forbes naming her in its list of the world's 100 most powerful women for 2020.

With a net worth of around $60 billion, Scott, who dropped the Bezos name to pick up her middle name after her grandfather, is the wealthiest woman on this year's list.

Forbes says she is "prime example" of how the women on the list are using the power their wealth provides to "create change through their businesses, non-profits and philanthropic work".

HUGE DONATIONS

After the split last year, which Scott into an overnight billionaire, pocketing $US38 billion in the settlement, she committed to donating more than half her net worth to charity.

She signed the Giving Pledge - an initiative founded by billionaires Warren Buffett and Bill Gates - in May 2019 shortly after her divorce was announced and a year later, she had given almost US$1.7 billion to 116 charitable organisations.

 

The 50-year-old paired up with Bill Gates' wife Melinda, who ranks fifth on this year's powerful women list, to launch the Equality Can't Wait Challenge, in which $US40 million was donated to not-for-profits.

In a Medium blog this year, Scott explained she had watched the events of 2020 "with a mixture of heartbreak and horror" and reflected on the "social structures which present opportunities to some people, and obstacles to countless others".

"People troubled by recent events can make new connections between privileges they've enjoyed and benefits they've taken for granted," she said.

"From there, many will choose to share some of what they have with people whose equal participation is essential to the construction of a better world."

 

EARLY YEARS

The writer, author and mother grew up wealthy, with a childhood home in California and another in San Francisco. Her father was a financial planner while her mother was a stay-at-home mum who chaired a fundraising group.

"We each come by the gifts we have to offer by an infinite series of influences and lucky breaks we can never fully understand," Scott said in a statement at the time of the divorce.

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

"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."

She met Bezos before he started the Amazon empire, which began as an online bookstore from their garage, inspired by Mackenzie's love of reading.

 

BILLIONAIRES GALORE

There are 12 billionaires on this year's World's 100 Most Powerful Women list, worth a collective $150.4 billion.

While Melinda Gates is on the list for her work with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Pivotal Ventures, she was left out of billionaire status by Forbes because the credit for founding Microsoft goes to her husband.

 

The billionaire women on the list span industries and net worths from $59.7 billion to $1.2 billion.

Apple founder Steve Job's widow Laurene Powell Jobs came in at number 42, with a total wealth of $US21.1 billion and is the founder and president of the philanthropy project Emerson Collective.

Media mogul Oprah Winfrey came in at number 20 on the list while Australian Gina Rinehart, the Executive chair of Hancock Prospecting, ranks at number 45 on the most powerful women list.

Crowned Australia's richest person with $29 billion fortune, Rinehart topped the Australian Financial Review Rich List for 2020.

Originally published as How Bezos' ex-wife is spending her billions



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