Who is Mackenzie Scott? Net worth of Jeff Bezos' billionaire ex-wife - and why she donated more than $4bn to charity

Scott is now the richest woman in the world

MacKenzie Scott, the ex-wife of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, has hit headlines by donating more than $4bn (£3bn) of her wealth to charity.

The novelist and philanthropist, who is now the world’s 18th-richest person, has given away the generous sums to food banks and emergency relief charities in the space of four months.

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Scott was instrumental in starting up her ex-husband’s billion-dollar company, from which she has gained most of her wealth.

The novelist and philanthropist MacKenzie Scott is now the world’s 18th-richest person (Shutterstock)
The novelist and philanthropist MacKenzie Scott is now the world’s 18th-richest person (Shutterstock)

Here’s everything you need to know about MacKenzie Scott.

How is she so wealthy?

The largest proportion of MacKenzie Scott’s personal wealth comes from her divorce settlement with Jeff Bezos, the world’s richest man.

When she legally separated from the Amazon chief executive in 2019, she was given a four percent stake in Amazon, worth around $38bn at the time.

The divorce settlement has been ranked among the most expensive, ever.

And thanks to an increase in online shopping during the coronavirus pandemic, with many people choosing to order from Amazon due to its cheap prices and fast delivery, Scott’s wealth has risen rapidly in 2020.

According to Bloomberg, as Bezos’ net worth rose to $200bn, Scott’s shot to $66.4bn, making her the world’s richest woman.

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Where did she go to university?

MacKenzie Scott grew up in San Francisco, with her financial planner father and philanthropist mother.

She aspired to be a novelist, studying at Princeton University, with her Pulitzer-prize winning tutor, Toni Morrison, later saying she was “one of the best students” she had ever had.

When she graduated from Princeton at 23, she applied for a job at New York hedge fund DE Shaw.

How did she meet Jeff Bezos?

It was at DE Shaw where she met and worked for Jeff Bezos in 1992, who interviewed her for the job of research associate.

She has since said she “fell in love with his laugh”.

The couple were married only a year later and moved to Seattle in 1994.

How did she help to start Amazon?

That same year, Jeff Bezos is thought to have brainstormed the Amazon business plan when he was on a road trip with Scott.

He left DE Shaw to found the company, which began as an online bookstore from his garage, and Scott became Amazon’s first employee.

As the company grew and Scott raised the couple’s four children - three sons and a daughter adopted from China - she also published two novels, The Testing of Luther Albright (2005) and Traps (2013).

Why did they divorce?

The couple divorced after 25 years of marriage in 2019, announcing their separation in a statement which read: “After a long period of loving exploration and trial separation, we have decided to divorce and continue our shared lives as friends.”

Shortly afterwards, Bezos was surrounded by claims of an affair between him and former news anchor Lauren Sanchez during his marriage.

What donations has Scott made?

In a blog post shared earlier this year, Scott revealed that she had donated about $1.7bn to hundreds of charities, including racial equality, economic mobility and gender equality groups.

She wrote that she had picked more than 380 charities to donate to having considered almost 6,500 organisations.

"This pandemic has been a wrecking ball in the lives of Americans already struggling,” Scott said.

"Economic losses and health outcomes alike have been worse for women, for people of colour and for people living in poverty. Meanwhile, it has substantially increased the wealth of billionaires."

Scott’s total donations for the year are reported to be almost $6bn.

In 2019, the billionaire signed the Giving Pledge - a commitment by the world’s wealthiest people to dedicate the majority of their wealth to charity - writing that she had a “disproportionate amount of money to share”.