Jeff Bezos’s family includes four children, one of whom was adopted from China. He was in a long-term marriage with wife, MacKenzie Bezos, a novelist, but he announced on January 9, 2019 that the couple was breaking up. He has spoken extensively about the ways in which his father and mother shaped his life.
With a fortune of $137 billion, the Amazon CEO is the world’s richest man. However, a statement released by Bezos and his wife indicated the divorce may not be a contentious one. The divorce announcement has placed Bezos’s family back in the spotlight. Jeff Bezos’s family – his mother, father, and his two siblings – were among the earliest investors of Amazon.com, likely reaping windfalls of their own as the company’s reach exploded.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Bezos & His Wife Say They Will ‘Continue Our Shared Lives as Friends’ & Reports Emerged He is Seeing Former TV Anchor Laura Sanchez
Jeff Bezos made the announcement on Twitter via a statement that bore the names of both him and MacKenzie. “We want to make people aware of a development in our lives. As our family and close friends know, after a long period of loving exploration and trial separation, we have decided to divorce and continue our shared lives as friends.”
The couple lavished praise on one another.
“We feel incredibly lucky to have found each other and deeply grateful for every one of the years we have been married to each other. If we had known we would separate after 25 years, we would do it all again,” the statement read.
“We’ve had such a great life together as a married couple, and we also see wonderful futures ahead, as parents, friends, partners in ventures and projects, and as individuals pursuing ventures and adventures. Though the labels might be different, we remain a family, and we remain cherished friends.”
However, Page Six reported later in the day on January 9, 2019 that Bezos is allegedly involved with Lauren Sanchez, described as “a former TV anchor and the glamorous wife of Hollywood talent mogul Patrick Whitesell.” She is a helicopter pilot who once anchored Fox’s “Good Day LA,” Page Six reports. An anonymous source told Page Six, “Patrick and Lauren Sanchez have been separated for a while. Their marriage has been off and on for a while, and they tried hard to fix things, but in the fall they officially separated. She had told Patrick that she has been recently seeing Jeff Bezos.” None of the parties has confirmed the account.
However, the tabloid National Enquirer painted a steamier picture in a salacious expose set to run the day after the Bezos divorce announcement, which the Enquirer claims Bezos was trying to preempt.
Page Six alleged in a follow-up story that it had learned “the Enquirer has been tracking the couple for four months, and on Wednesday (January 9, 2019) they posted pictures of the pair, and said that over the course of four months, their reporters had tracked the couple ‘across five states and 40,000 miles.'”
Patrick Whitesell is an extremely rich and powerful talent agent in Hollywood who represents some of the country’s biggest movie stars. You can read more about him here.
MacKenzie Bezos once defended her husband in a review she wrote about a book called The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon. “I have firsthand knowledge of many of the events. I worked for Jeff (Bezos) at D. E. Shaw, I was there when he wrote the business plan, and I worked with him and many others represented in the converted garage, the basement warehouse closet, the barbecue-scented offices, the Christmas-rush distribution centers, and the door-desk filled conference rooms in the early years of Amazon’s history. Jeff and I have been married for 20 years,” she wrote.
According to The Washington Post, Bezos and his wife once gave $2.5 million to support gay marriage in Washington State. The article describes MacKenzie as “a novelist whose books have earned admiring reviews.” The Hollywood Reporter reports that D.E. Shaw was a bank where MacKenzie also worked and her books include Traps and The Testing of Luther Albright. She “served as one of Amazon’s first employees,” THR adds.
“I think my wife is resourceful, smart, brainy, and hot, but I had the good fortune of having seen her résumé before I met her, so I knew exactly what her SATs were,” Bezos once joked to Vogue Magazine. You can read more biography on MacKenzie Bezos here.
2. Jeff Bezos Has Four Children & MacKenzie Has Said That She Is the Opposite of Her Husband
Jeff Bezos and MacKenzie are the parents to four children. Three of them are sons, and the fourth is a daughter adopted from China, according to CNN. In 2013, the children ranged in age from seven to 12, Vogue reports. Their eldest son is named Preston Bezos. You can see a picture of the children here.
Although it’s not clear what led to the couple’s split, MacKenzie told Vogue Magazine in 2013 that she and her husband were opposites in some ways.
“Jeff is the opposite of me,” she told the magazine. “He likes to meet people. He’s a very social guy. Cocktail parties for me can be nerve-racking. The brevity of conversations, the number of them—it’s not my sweet spot.”
Danny Hills, a friend, told Vogue that MacKenzie was a stabilizing influence. “Family is very important to Jeff, and he absolutely relies on her to create that stable home life. They are such a normal, close-knit family, it’s almost abnormal,” he told Vogue. Vogue quoted MacKenzie as saying the couple had tried many things with their children and the magazine noted that included homeschooling. It also included “off-season travel, kitchen-science experiments, chicken incubation, Mandarin lessons, the Singapore math program, and lots of clubs and sports with other neighborhood kids,” she told Vogue.
3. Bezos’s Parents Broke Up When He Was Young & His Stepfather, a Cuban Refugee, Adopted Him
Jeff Bezos was born Jeffrey Preston Jorgensen on January 12, 1964, in Albuquerque, New Mexico. His birth parents were named Jacklyn Gise Jorgensen and Ted Jorgensen, but they divorced, and he was adopted as a young child by his stepfather, a man named Miguel Bezos who is sometimes called Mike Bezos.
His birth parents met in high school, and his mother was a teenager when Jeff Bezos was born; his grandparents on her side of the family lived on a ranch. “I won the lottery with my mom. Thanks for literally everything, Mom,” Bezos wrote on Twitter of his mother.
Of Mike, he wrote on Instagram, “My dad came here from Cuba all by himself without speaking English when he was 16 years old, and has been kicking ass ever since. Thank you for all the love and heart, Dad!”
In 1999, Jeff Bezos told Wired that he had never met his real father. Referring to his stepdad, a Cuban refugee and petroleum engineer, he told the site, “But the reality, as far as I’m concerned, is that my Dad is my natural father.”
4. Jeff Bezos’s Brother Is a Volunteer Firefighter & His Family Invested in Amazon Early On
Jeff Bezos has a brother named Mark Bezos who is a volunteer firefighter. Bezos and Mark once discussed their upbringing together in a video (see above). “I’m the one with the smaller bank account to your left,” Mark Bezos joked to the audience.
Actually, though, Bezos’s parents and his two siblings were among his first investors in Amazon. They were granted “just under 1 per cent of Amazon’s stock on average. If they held on to all of the shares their stakes would each now be worth up to US$7 billion each, a return of 14 million per cent,” reports SCMP.com. It’s unclear how much of the stock his parents and siblings held onto, but they have given away millions of dollars through a Bezos Family Foundation. The site reports that Bezos’s parents themselves gave away $65 million to a cancer research organization. You can see a recent photo of his sister and mother here.
Forbes Magazine reports that Mike and Jackie Bezos invested more than $245,000 in Amazon early on. Bloomberg recalls that Jeff Bezos warned his parents, “I want you to know how risky this is because I want to come home at dinner for Thanksgiving and I don’t want you to be mad at me.” Although it’s not clear how much of the stock they held onto, if they kept it all they could be worth $30 billion today, according to Forbes. Information on the family’s foundation is available through GuideStar.
He also has a sister named Christine. According to Wired, Jeff Bezos is the eldest sibling in the family and Mark and Christine are five and six years younger, respectfully. Mark Bezos once gave a TED talk. “Mark Bezos is the SVP, Development, Communications & Events at Robin Hood, the leading poverty-fighting charity in New York City. Bezos joined Robin Hood following the sale of his advertising agency, excited to have found a way to use his powers of persuasion for good,” the site reports. “Bezos is the Assistant Captain of a volunteer fire company in Westchester County, New York, where he lives with his wife and four children.”
Wired describes the family as a close one. A profile in The Washington Post reports that Bezos’s mother said she once discovered him “trying to take apart his crib with a screwdriver.”
Wired reports that his high school girlfriend was named Ursula Werner, the valedictorian at Miami Palmetto Senior High School. “Jeff always wanted to make a lot of money,” she told the site. “It wasn’t about money itself. It was about what he was going to do with the money, about changing the future.”
5. Bezos’s Net Worth Derives From His Founding of Amazon
According to Bloomberg, Bezos’s vast $137 billion fortune derives from his founding of Amazon.com.
Jeff Bezos is “a former Wall Street computer engineer who created Amazon in 1994 to sell books online. After an initial public offering in 1997, Amazon stock shot up almost 40-fold, sending Bezos’s personal fortune above $12 billion,” Bloomberg reports.
Will MacKenzie receive a fortune in the divorce? CNBC reports that it’s definitely possible – and even likely – because the couple made their home in Washington, a community property state. “That means that any wealth made during their marriage could be split equally between the two,” the site noted, adding that Amazon “was founded a year after the Bezoses were married,” which will give her more of a claim most likely.
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