Bill and Melinda Gates to divorce after 27 years

·3 min read

Bill and Melinda Gates are getting divorced after 27 years of marriage, the couple announced in a joint statement Monday.

"After a great deal of thought and a lot of work on our relationship, we have made the decision to end our marriage. 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," the statement said.

"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."

Bill Gates, 65, who co-founded Microsoft in 1975, is the fourth richest man in the world and has a net worth of $130.5 billion, according to Forbes. Last March, he stepped down from his role on Microsoft's board of directors to focus solely on his work with the foundation.

Bill and Melinda, 56, met in 1987 while working at Microsoft. Melinda, who was 24 at the time, had just started working as a marketing manager. Bill was 31 and the CEO. They married in 1994, and a year later, Bill became the richest man in the world.

Bill and Melinda Gates in 2017. / Credit: Frederic Stevens / Getty
Bill and Melinda Gates in 2017. / Credit: Frederic Stevens / Getty

In 2000, they started the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, a philanthropic organization that has spent $53.8 billion in its fight against "poverty, disease and inequity around the world, according to the foundation's website. The charity, which is considered one of the world's largest, has invested more than $1.75 billion to fight COVID-19.

"There is no such thing as a national solution to a global crisis," they said in a previous statement on the foundation's website. "All countries must work together to end the pandemic and begin rebuilding economies."

In a statement late Monday, the foundation said Bill and Melinda would remain co-chairs and trustees and no changes to their roles have been planned. "They will continue to work together to shape and approve foundation strategies, advocate for the foundation's issues, and set the organization's overall direction," the statement said.

The couple had three children and decided early on not to hand them most of their fortune but to give it away instead. "It was amazing we had this fortune, it was gigantic. We didn't think it would be great to give lots of it to our children," Bill previously told CBS News

The divorce raises questions about what happens to the rest of it. The financial details of the divorce are not yet known. Randall Lane, the editor of Forbes, predicts their philanthropy will survive the split.

"These are very rational people who believe very much in the long term. They have more money than they could ever know what to do with and I do not think it will affect the good work that they do together," Lane told CBS News.

Ben Tracy contributed reporting.

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