Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates — who is worth an estimated $130 billion — and his wife, Melinda, are getting a divorce after 27 years of marriage, the couple announced Monday in a joint statement.
“After a great deal of thought and a lot of work on our relationship, we have made the decision to end our marriage,” a statement from the billionaire philanthropist couple, tweeted from both of their personal Twitter accounts at 4:30 p.m. EST, reads.
“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 goes on.
“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.”
The couple have three children — Jennifer, 25, Rory, 21, and Phoebe, 18 — who live mostly private lives. Jennifer Gates is the only one of her siblings with a public Instagram account and made a post about her parents divorce Monday afternoon where she acknowledged the news has been “challenging” and thanked loved ones for their support.
It’s unclear if the Gates’ have a prenuptial agreement but the New York Times in 1997 wrote they “are reported to have one.”
Bill Gates, one of the wealthiest men in the world, made his fortune as the co-founder of Microsoft — a venture he started in 1975, about 20 years before he tied the knot with Melinda.
He continued to accumulate a great deal of wealth while married to Melinda Gates and the split could shape up to be one of the biggest divorces of all time.
When Jeff Bezos and MacKenzie Scott announced their divorce in 2019, the novelist became the richest woman in the world when she gained $38 billion from the split, about a quarter of the couple’s reported $137 billion net worth at the time.
Bill and Melinda Gates started dating in 1987 after meeting at a trade show in New York before getting married on New Year’s Day in 1994 in Hawaii, TMZ reported.
Melinda Gates briefly worked for the company in their marketing department before she was appointed as General Manager of Information Products in the early 1990s, TMZ reported.
She left the company in 1996 so she could focus on starting a family.
In 2000, the couple started the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and have since donated about $50 billion to charity for initiatives across the globe.
Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the Gates foundation has donated $1.75 billion to fighting the virus, the bulk of which went to the production and procurement of “crucial medical supplies,” the non-profit announced in December.
The foundation released a statement about the divorce following the couple’s announcement that said the two will both remain co-chairs and trustees of the organization.
“No changes to their roles or the organization are 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 read.