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The Independent UK
The Independent UK
Chelsea Ritschel

People react to Jeff Bezos’ pledge to give away most of his $124bn fortune: ‘You don’t have to pledge’

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Jeff Bezos has sparked mixed reactions after announcing his plan to give away most of his $124bn fortune.

The billionaire Amazon founder spoke to CNN about his plans while sitting alongside his partner Lauren Sánchez inside his Washington, DC, home on Saturday. The 58-year-old entrepreneur said he and Sanchez are “building the capacity to be able to give away this money” and claimed that “the hard part is figuring out how to do it in a levered way”.

Bezos has already committed giving $10bn over 10 years to the Bezos Earth Fund, which intends to reduce the carbon footprint of construction-grade cement among other ecological intentions. CNN reports that he plans to “devote the bulk of his wealth to fighting climate change and supporting people who can unify humanity in the face of deep social and political divisions”.

On social media, Bezos’ pledge has met been with reactions ranging from amusement to doubt. Many have even offered suggestions for ways the fourth-wealthiest person in the world can distribute his immense wealth.

“Jeff Bezos just announced he is going to be donating his $100bn net worth to ‘fighting climate change and supporting people who can unify humanity in the face of deep social and political divisions’. Might as well just give it all to @elonmusk then,” one person jokingly tweeted about the Tesla CEO and now-owner of Twitter.

In response, Musk replied: “Yay, he’s investing in Tesla!”

In another tweet, someone else suggested that Bezos should consider paying Amazon employees more money. “Jeff Bezos is giving away a lot of his money. If you’re feeling so generous, how about paying your employees more money,” they wrote.

According to salary estimate website Glassdoor, warehouse workers at Amazon are paid an average of $19 per hour. In the replies to the tweet, some defended Bezos on the basis that he is no longer the CEO of Amazon, as he transitioned to  executive chair in 2021. “I’m not defending Bezos, I’m not a fan of billionaires, but I don’t think he has much to do with Amazon anymore,”one person pointed out.

Others suggested that Bezos made the announcement around the same time as news broke that Amazon is reportedly planning to lay-off 10,000 employees. “Weird that this happens around the same time that Jeff Bezos is bragging about giving most of his money away,” one person pointed out, while someone else said: “Very clever of Jeff Bezos to announce he’s giving away most of his massive fortune over his lifetime right ahead of this news that he is laying off a lot of Amazon staff.”

Bezos’ announcement also prompted many to question the validity of his claim. Some pointed out that “pledging to donate money is not the same thing as donating money”.

“Lol you don’t have to pledge. You can just give the money away,” another person wrote.

Activist Charlotte Clymer said Bezos should consider giving the money to his ex-wife Mackenzie Scott, who has given away $12.8bn in two years per Forbes.

“Jeff Bezos has just pledged to give away most of his $124bn net worth,” Clymer wrote. “I think he should just hand it over to MacKenzie Scott, who has unhesitatingly given away billions in just the past few years without needing to be convinced to help other human beings.”

In addition to doubts over Bezos’ pledge, others jokingly offered themselves up as recipients of the billionaire’s fortune.

“Hey @JeffBezos, if you’re giving away money, can you shoot me $10,000? It would solve a surprising amount of my problems,” one person tweeted, while another said: “Jeff Bezos giving away all his bread and me not getting [any] would be absolutely ridiculous.”

While Bezos pledged $10bn in 2020 to protect the environment, Forbes notes that, of that pledge, $1.54bn has been disbursed through the Bezos Earth Fund.

Bezos’ latest pledge comes after he and Sánchez revealed they would be giving a $100m grant to Dolly Parton as part of her Courage and Civility Award, which Parton is expected to give to charities of her choice.

“When you think of Dolly ... look, everyone smiles, right? She is just beaming with light,” Sánchez told CNN. “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.”

In response to the grant, Parton said: “I try to put my money where my heart is. I will do my best to do good things with this money. Thank you @JeffBezos #LaurenSanchez.”

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