SEATTLE (NewsNation Now) — Billionaires and philanthropists Bill and Melinda Gates announced Monday they’re ending their 27-year-long marriage.
“After a great deal of thought and a lot of work on our relationship, we have made the decision to end our marriage,” said in a statement, posted on Twitter.
The statement refers to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, a philanthropic organization that supports a variety of issues that the couple founded in 2000.
The Gates said they will continue “our work together at the foundation, but we no longer believe we can grow together as a couple in the next phase of our lives.”
The Seattle-based Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is the most influential private foundation in the world, with an endowment worth nearly $50 billion. It has focused on global health and development and U.S. education issues since incorporating in 2000.
The couple asked for “space and privacy” for their family as they “begin to navigate this new life.”
Bill Gates was formerly the world’s richest person and his fortune is estimated at well over $100 billion. How the couple end up settling their estate and any impact on the foundation will be closely watched, especially after another high-profile Seattle-area billionaire couple recently ended their marriage.
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and MacKenzie Bezos finalized their divorce in 2019. MacKenzie Scott has since remarried and now focuses on her own philanthropy after receiving a 4% stake in Amazon, worth more than $36 billion.
The Gates began dating in 1987 after meeting at a trade fair in New York. They married in 1994 in a private ceremony in Hawaii.
The couple has three children; Jennifer, Phoebe and Rory.
In her 2019 memoir, “The Moment of Lift,” Melinda Gates wrote about her childhood, life and private struggles as the wife of a public icon and stay-at-home mom with three kids. She won Bill Gates’ heart after meeting at a work dinner, sharing a mutual love of puzzles and beating him at a math game.
She also detailed the ways they navigated imbalances in their marriage and parenting journey and noted how working together at the foundation made their relationship better.
“Bill and I are equal partners,” Melinda Gates said in a 2019 interview with The Associated Press. “Men and women should be equal at work.”
While both are global figures, Melinda Gates has increasingly built her profile as a champion of women and girls. The former tech business executive launched her private Pivotal Ventures investment and incubation company in 2015 and recently partnered with Scott for a newly announced equity challenge.
Nexstar Media Wire, The Associated Press and NewsNation affiliate WGN contributed to this report.