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Jeff Bezos, the world’s richest man returned to Earth on Tuesday after his 11-minute flight to space to announce a gift of $100 million each to CNN political contributor Van Jones and chef José Andrés.
With a net worth of more than $200 billion as of June 2021, Jeff Bezos is the richest person in the world according to both Forbes and Bloomberg’s Billionaires Index.
“They can give all to their own charity or they can share their wealth. It’s all up to them,” Bezos said, as he announced what he called the Courage and Civility Award.
He said the award “recognizes leaders who aim high and who pursue solutions with courage and who always do so with civility.”
Recipients receive $100 million to give away to charities or non-profits of their choice, and Bezos said awardees may direct all the funds to their own non-profits or “spread the wealth” to other organizations.
Bezos then called Jones on stage, honoring the criminal justice reform advocate and Dream Corps founder as the first awardee.
“Sometimes dreams come true,” Jones said, adding that “the headlines around the world should be, anything is possible if you believe.”
Andrés, who started the nonprofit World Central Kitchen to feed those affected by natural disasters, said: “This award itself cannot feed the world on its own, but this is the start of a new chapter for us.”
Jones said that Bezos called him over the weekend to inform of his plans.
“He said that he thought that my attempts to try to bring people together across party lines, across racial lines had been inspiring, and can I use some more support.”
He said that it was “money for me to give to others who have a similar spirit.”
“I really didn’t know what to say,” Jones said. “You got people coming out of prisons, you have got people on reservations, you have got people in Appalachia, you have got people at the border, all people,” he added.
“This country is unbelievable what people are doing, and how much heart they have and how much love they have. They don’t care about these things we divide over sometime and they need more support.
“If we can connect them with more resources, it is going to make a big difference.” Bezos last week also announced a gift of $200M to Smithsonian Institution, the biggest gift it ever received.
In August 2020, according to Forbes, he had a net worth exceeding $200 billion. In 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic, Bezos’s wealth grew by approximately $24 billion.
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