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Bill Gates and Melinda announce their divorce: how long have they been together and why are they separating?

After twenty-seven years together, the billionaire philanthropist duo, Bill and Melinda Gates, announce they are divorcing.

Bill Gates and Melinda announce their divorce: how long have they been together and why are they separating?
Francois Lenoir REUTERS

After twenty-seven years of marriage, Bill and Melinda Gates, one of the most powerful couples in the world, have announced that they are divorcing. Making the announcement on Twitter, the joint statement read that "After a great deal of thought and a lot of work on our relationship, we have made the decision to end our marriage."

The couple will continue working on their shared goals and is proud of what they were able to accomplish together, "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 news came as a surprise to many, especially as Bill Gates has been a strong voice and a public face throughout the covid-19 pandemic.

Twenty-seven years together

The couple began dating in 1987 after Melinda began working at Microsoft and the two were sat beside each other at a company dinner. They married seven years later in Hawaii surrounded by close friends and family. The couple has raised three children together.

Philanthropic endeavors

Unlike many children of the ultra-wealthy, the Gates kids will not inherit their parent’s vast sums of money. Along with Warren Buffet, Bill and Melinda Gates founded The Giving Pledge in 2010. The aim of The Giving Pledge is to encourage the wealthiest people in the world to give at least half of their net worth away while they are alive or just after their death.

Many questions also remain on the future of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation which in 2019, provided about five billion dollars in grant support. The statement released by the couple said that the two would continue to work together with the foundation. Currently, both Bill and Melinda are Co-Chairs and Trustees of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. 

A historic divorce

The couple’s net worth is estimated at around 150 billion dollars, making their divorce historic. The separation reminds many of Jeff Bezos and MacKenzie Scott’s separation which ended up being the largest divorce ever seen. Ms. Scott became the wealthiest woman in the world when she walked away from the divorce with a net worth valued at $36 billion.

Although the couple hopes to separate amicably, it is no doubt that separating the assets they have accumulated together over nearly three decades will be difficult.