The billionaire philanthropists Bill and Melinda Gates shocked the world on Monday afternoon when they announced that they are divorcing after 27 years of marriage.
“After a great deal of thought and a lot of work on our relationship, we have made the decision to end our marriage,” they said in a statement. “Over the last 27 years, we have raised three incredible children and built a foundation that works all over the world to enable all people to lead healthy, productive lives.”
They went on to say that they will continue to work together at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation moving forward.
“We continue to share a belief in that mission and will continue our work together at the foundation, but we no longer believe we can grow together as a couple in this next phase of our lives,” their statement concluded. “We ask for space and privacy for our family as we begin to navigate this new life.”
— Bill Gates (@BillGates) May 3, 2021
Bill is a founder of Microsoft, and he met Melinda when she began working there as a marketing manager, according to CNBC.
“It took him quite a few months before he asked me out,” Melinda said.
The couple married in Hawaii in 1994, and they went on to have three children. Many are stunned by their split, as they always seemed to be very much in love.
“In the case of Melinda, it is a truly equal partner,” Bill Gates said in the 2019 Netflix documentary “Inside Bill’s Brain.” “She’s a lot like me in that she is optimistic and she is interested in science. She is better with people than I am. She’s a tiny bit less hardcore about knowing, you know, immunology, than I am.”
Bill is currently the fourth richest person in the world, behind Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, LVMH’s Bernard Arnault and Tesla’s Elon Musk. It is unclear at this time how Bill and Melinda will be dividing their massive fortune at this time.
Jennifer Katharine Gates, 25, the oldest of Bill and Melinda’s three children, said in a statement that it has “been a challenging stretch of time for our whole family.”
“I’m still learning how to best support my own process and emotions as well as family members at this time,” she continued.