Billionaire Microsoft founder Bill Gates and his wife Melinda have announced they’re getting divorced after 27 years of marriage.
The pair announced the decision in a joint statement on Tuesday, revealing they had been battling to save the relationship for some time.
What they said
“After a great deal of thought and a lot of work on our relationship, we have made the decision to end our marriage,” the pair said.
“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.
“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.
“We ask for space and privacy for our family as we begin to navigate this new life.”
How long they’ve been married
Bill, 65, and Melinda, 56, got married on New Year’s Day in 1994, in a private ceremony on Hawaii’s Lanai Island.
They have three children together: 25-year-old Jennifer, 21-year-old Rory and 18-year-old Phoebe.
In 2000, they launched the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, with ambitious goals that included the reduction of extreme poverty around the world. The pair are co-chairs and trustees of the foundation, which has more than $US50 billion in assets.
This past year, it was heavily involved in the world’s response to COVID-19, committing $1.75 billion to help develop and distribute vaccines.
The couple also helped found the Giving Pledge in 2010, along with investor Warren Buffet. It calls for signatories to give away at least half of their net worth to philanthropic causes.
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How they met
The couple met in 1987, when Mrs Gates — then known as Melinda French — was an employee at Microsoft. Mr Gates co-founded the company in the 1970s.
In a Netflix documentary series a couple of years ago, Mrs Gates shared an amusing anecdote from about year into their relationship, when she walked in on Mr Gates as he was drawing up a list of the “pros and cons” of marrying her.
“He had to make a decision,” she said, bursting into laughter.
At first, the pair revealed, their relationship was a casual one.
“She had other boyfriends, and I had Microsoft,” said Mr Gates.
“We were like, ‘Hey we are not really serious about each other, are we? We are not going to demand each other’s time.’”
“I was new to Microsoft, there were a lot of men there, and you are still looking around,” Mrs Gates added.
After a year though, to their own surprise, they decided they loved each other.
When they finally got married in 1994, Mr Gates was 38 and she was 29.
What is their net worth?
Bill Gates net worth is listed by Forbes as $168 billion (AUD), making him the world’s fourth richest man behind Jeff Bezos ($253 billion), Bernard Arnault ($236 billion) and Elon Musk ($215 billion).
The Gates’ divorce comes two years after another high profile billionaire, Jeff Bezos, finalised his split from his wife of 25 years, MacKenzie Scott.
That divorce ended in a massive settlement. Mr Bezos gave Ms Scott a quarter of their joint stocks in Amazon, worth about $US32 billion at the time.
The Gates settlement is tipped to top that.
Bill and Melinda Gates getting divorced after 27 years