Power Players

Jeff Bezos' ex MacKenzie Scott on her billions: 'There's no question' that wealth is a result of 'collective effort' and 'social structures'

MacKenzie Scott attends the SEAN PENN J/P HRO GALA: A Gala Dinner to Benefit J/P Haitian Relief Organization and a Coalition of Disaster Relief Organizations at Milk Studios on January 6, 2018 in Los Angeles, California.
Greg Doherty | Patrick McMullan | Getty Images

As Jeff Bezos defends Amazon's largess in front of the U.S. House Committee on the Judiciary on Wednesday ("Just like the world needs small companies, it also needs large ones," his prepared remarks read), his ex-wife MacKenzie Scott has announced an update on her own efforts to dismantle the mountain of money and privilege on which she currently sits. 

Scott (who recently changed her last name) has used her personal Twitter account exactly twice — first to announce her divorce from the Amazon titan was complete in April 2019, and second to announce on Tuesday that she has given $1.7 billion to charity. 

In a post on Medium, Scott also talked about her wealth. She is currently worth $36 billion after receiving 25% of Bezos' stake in Amazon as part of their divorce settlement, according to Forbes. 

Bezos, the richest person in the world, is worth $179.3 billion and still owns 11.1% of the company he started out of his garage in 1994, according to Forbes. 

Scott wrote, "there's no question in my mind that anyone's personal wealth is the product of a collective effort, and of social structures which present opportunities to some people, and obstacles to countless others."

After divorcing Bezos, Scott signed The Giving Pledge, a public commitment for billionaires who plan to give away the majority of their wealth, either during their own lifetimes or in their will. The Giving Pledge was launched in 2010 by Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett

"Like many, I watched the first half of 2020 with a mixture of heartbreak and horror," Scott wrote. "Life will never stop finding fresh ways to expose inequities in our systems; or waking us up to the fact that a civilization this imbalanced is not only unjust, but also unstable."

Indeed, the coronavirus pandemic has ravaged the poorest people the most significantly. The World Bank estimates that the Covid-19 pandemic could push 49 million people into extreme poverty in 2020.

Scott said she hopes the experiences of the last several months will inspire others to give back.

"Opportunities that flowed from the mere chance of skin color, sexual orientation, gender, or zip code may have yielded resources that can be powerful levers for change. People troubled by recent events can make new connections between privileges they've enjoyed and benefits they've taken for granted," Scott wrote. "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."

Scott said she made donations to 116 organizations working toward goals like racial equity, LGBTQ+ equity, gender equity, economic mobility, functional democracy, public health and climate change. Of those organizations, "91% of the racial equity organizations are run by leaders of color, 100% of the LGBTQ+ equity organizations are run by LGBTQ+ leaders, and 83% of the gender equity organizations are run by women, bringing lived experience to solutions for imbalanced social systems," she wrote. "We selected for diversity in leadership across all categories of giving, supporting vital variety of perspective and experience in solutions on every cause."

Scott's ex husband, Bezos, has not signed The Giving Pledge and has long been criticized for his lack of generosity in philanthropy. However, more recently Bezos started the $2 billion One Day Fund, and in February, Bezos announced a $10 billion climate change effort.  

See also: 

Cash payments to 2.7 billion people living in poverty would slow Covid-19 spread: report

Young immigrant brothers are teaching AI to high-schoolers for free to give back 

Basecamp founder on becoming a millionaire overnight: 'A mild crisis of faith ensued. Is this it?'

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Bill and Melinda Gates say it's unfair that they have so much wealth
Bill and Melinda Gates say it's unfair that they have so much wealth