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Bill And Melinda Gates Announce Divorce

Bill and Melinda Gates smile at each other during an interview in Kirkland, Wash., in 2019. The couple announced on Monday that they are divorcing.
Elaine Thompson
Bill and Melinda Gates smile at each other during an interview in Kirkland, Wash., in 2019. The couple announced on Monday that they are divorcing.

Updated May 3, 2021 at 6:53 PM ET

Bill Gates and his wife, Melinda Gates, announced on Monday that they are splitting after 27 years of marriage.

"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 wrote in a joint statement posted on Twitter.

Bill Gates is reportedly worth upward of $130 billion and is considered to be the world's fourth-wealthiest person. He stepped down as a board member of Microsoft, which he founded with Paul Allen in 1975, in March 2020.

"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 pair added. "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."

The two currently chair the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, now the world's largest private charitable foundation. Since its founding in 2000, Bill Gates has donated about $35.8 billion worth of Microsoft stock to the global organization, according to Forbes. The foundation funds projects to reduce poverty and improve health in the developing world.

Shortly after the coronavirus pandemic brought the world to a grinding halt, the Gates Foundation announced it would spend $300 million to fight the spread of COVID-19 and to develop new treatments and a vaccine.

Melinda Gates, who was formerly a general manager at Microsoft, has opened up about the challenges in her marriage. In her 2019 book, The Moment of Lift: How Empowering Women Changes the World, she wrote about the unique struggles of being a mother and the wife of one of the world's richest men, and she also tackled the broader issue of women's inequality in and out of marriage in the United States.

"I chose to write my story so that hopefully people and women and men could relate to me and understand that, yes, these issues exist in every single marriage," she toldNPR's Michel Martin in 2019.

As part of her effort "to start tackling these inequities for women and the barriers in the United States," she established an office called Pivotal Ventures, which is separate from the foundation, she said.

NPR is among the organizations supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

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Vanessa Romo is a reporter for NPR's News Desk. She covers breaking news on a wide range of topics, weighing in daily on everything from immigration and the treatment of migrant children, to a war-crimes trial where a witness claimed he was the actual killer, to an alleged sex cult. She has also covered the occasional cat-clinging-to-the-hood-of-a-car story.