After nearly three decades of marriage, Bill Gates and wife Melinda Gates are calling it quits. The couple and business dynamites, who have three children together, announced their surprising split in a joint statement posted to Twitter on May 3. Bill and Melinda came to the conclusion that they should divorce “after a great deal of thought,” according to their statement.
“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 to lead healthy, productive lives,” the statement, posted to the Microsoft founder’s Twitter reads. “We continue to share a belief in that mission and will continue our work together at the [Gates] foundation, but we no longer believe we can grow together as a couple in the next phase of our lives.
Bill, 65, and Melinda, 56, ended the message by asking for privacy “as we begin to navigate this new life.” The billionaire philanthropists met at Microsoft, the company Bill co-founded, where Melinda worked as a marketing manager in 1987. They married on the Hawaiian island of Lanai in September 1994, after weighing the pros and cons of marriage on a whiteboard.
“You know, we cared a lot for each other and there were only two possibilities: either, we were going to break up or we were going to get married,” Bill said in the 2019 Netflix docuseries Inside Bill’s Brain. “I took the idea of marriage very seriously.” He gushed over Melinda in the series, calling her “a truly equal partner.”
They head the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, launched in 2000, which focuses on enhancing healthcare, reducing extreme poverty, and expanding access to education and technology throughout the United States. As of 2018, Bill and Melinda had donated $36 billion of their own money to the foundation.
The financial details of their split are not clear. Bill, the co-founder and former CEO of Microsoft owns about 1% of the company’s shares. Together, Bill and Melinda are worth about $26 million, according to CNBC. They are part of the Giving Pledge, a movement of wealthy philanthropists who vow to give away half of their money. MacKenzie Scott joined after her pricey divorce from Amazon’s Jeff Bezos.