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Bill and Melinda Gates: Here's a look inside their 27-year marriage, from meeting at work, to spending $45 billion on philanthropy, to their 2021 divorce

Bill and Melinda Gates
Bill and Melinda gates are splitting up, the Microsoft co-founder announced on Monday.Scott Olson/Getty Images

Bill and Melinda Gates ended their marriage, but the foundation they started together remains in tact.

The billionaire Microsoft founder announced his plans to separate from his wife of 27 years in May 2021, and their divorce was finalized in August 2021.

"After a great deal of thought and a lot of work on our relationship, we have made the decision to end our marriage," Bill Gates said in a tweet. "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."


Bill and Melinda Gates had been married since 1994, raised three kids, were worth $130.5 billion, and ran a namesake philanthropic enterprise boasting a $49.8 billion endowment.

Here's a look at the marriage between Bill and Melinda:

Bill and Melinda first met in 1987, when she joined Microsoft as a product manager.

bill melinda
Ron Galella, Ltd. / Getty Images

Bill asked her if she could go out "two weeks from tonight" — to which Melinda replied, "Two weeks from tonight? I have no idea what I'm doing two weeks from tonight.' And I said, 'You're not spontaneous enough for me."

Source: Business Insider

Melinda gave Bill her number and told him to call her closer to the day he had in mind.

Bill Gates Melinda
Stevan Morgain/AP Images

Source: Business Insider

Instead, he called her up later that night with a wry question: "Is this spontaneous enough for you?" Turns out, it was.

Melinda French Gates
Lennox McLendon/File/AP Images

Source: Business Insider

Melinda and Bill dated for seven years before they wed. Melinda told Fortune her mom didn't think that seeing the CEO was a good idea in the beginning.

Bill Gates Melinda
Douglas C. Pizac/File/AP Images

Source: Business Insider, Fortune

But the couple didn't listen. Business Insider's Tanza Loudenback reported they "kept a low profile at work and asked colleagues and family members to respect their privacy."

Bill Gates Melinda
Tran Van Minh/AP Images

Source: Business InsiderSeattle Times, Business Insider

"When I look back, Bill was the same kind of guy I was hanging out with in college," Melinda told Fortune. "I had a lot of respect for them, and they had respect for me."

Bill Gates Melinda
Andy Rogers/AP Images

Source: Business InsiderFortune

"I was definitely attracted to his brilliant mind, but beyond that, his curiosity," she told Fortune. "And he has a huge sense of fun. I love that wry side of him."

Bill Gates Melinda
Elaine Thompson/AP Images

Source: Business InsiderFortune

After they were engaged, Bill and Melinda traveled to Africa in late 1993. During the trip, they encountered people in extreme poverty.

Bill Gates Melinda
Manny Ceneta / Stringer / Getty Images

Source: TEDBusiness Insider

On a walk on a beach in Zanzibar, Melinda told TED in an interview, the couple "started to talk about" how they might use their fortune to help others.

zanzibar beach
Ivan Pavlov/Shutterstock

Source: TEDBusiness Insider

That's when the idea that would ultimately become the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation began to take root.

Melinda Gates
Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images for Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Source: Gates Notes

"It's not fair that we have so much wealth when billions of others have so little," Melinda wrote, in one of the couples' annual letters.

Gates Foundation co-chair Melinda Gates
Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation co-chair Melinda Gates.Denis Balibouse/Reuters

Source: Gates Notes

The couple married in 1994 in what was then Manele Bay Hotel in Hawaii. They tied the knot by the "par-3 12th hole" on the property's golf course, according to Forbes. The event reportedly cost $1 million.

Bill Gates Melinda wedding
Dave Weaver/AP Images

Source: Business Insider, EasyWeddings.com, Forbes, People magazine, Business Insider

To keep the wedding private, Bill booked all the rooms in the hotel, along with all of the helicopters on the island of Maui to "prevent unwanted visitors from flying over," Forbes reported.

Bill Gates Melinda wedding
Dave Weaver/AP Images

Source: Business InsiderEasyWeddings.comForbes

Bill's parents gifted the newlyweds with a sculpture of two birds, sitting side-by-side and staring at the horizon. "It's still in front of our house," Melinda wrote in the couples' 2018 annual letter. "I think of it all the time, because fundamentally we’re looking in the same direction."

two birds love winter
Bachkova Natalia/Shutterstock

Source: Gates Notes

The next year, the couple's lavish home — nicknamed "Xanadu 2.0" — was completed in Medina, Washington. The mansion's estimated worth was $124 million in 2016.

Bill Gates House Property
Dan Callister / Getty Images

Source: Business InsiderThe Economic Times

The couple has raised two daughters and a son — and didn't let any of them own a cellphone until they were 14, according to The Mirror.

Bill Gates Melinda
Elaine Thompson/AP Images

Source: Business Insider, Business Insider, The Mirror

Bill told Rolling Stone the children were raised Catholic. "We've raised our kids in a religious way," he said. "They've gone to the Catholic church that Melinda goes to and I participate in."

Bill Gates Melinda
Scott Olson/Getty Images

Source: Rolling Stone

Bill and Melinda would read books from a range of genres to their kids as they grew up, from "Guess How Much I Love You" to "Fahrenheit 451."

Bill Gates Melinda
Nati Harnik/AP Images

Source: Business Insider

Gates has said his wife is a driving force when it comes to bringing the family together. "Melinda is very creative about helping me find chances to spend time with the kids," Gates wrote in a 2017 Reddit AMA. "Even just driving them to school is a great time to talk to them."

bill gates
John Moore/Getty Images

Source: Reddit

Each of the Gates' kids will inherit about $10 million of their parents' $98.1 billion fortune, while much of the rest will go to charitable causes.

Bill Gates Jennifer Gates
Yana Paskova / Getty

Source: Business InsiderTED, Bankrate.com

"We want to strike a balance where they have the freedom to do anything but not a lot of money showered on them so they could go out and do nothing," Bill told TED.

Bill Gates Melinda
Mark J. Terrill/AP Images

Source: Business InsiderTED, Bankrate.com

The Gates also support their kids in other ways. The couple spent $37 million purchasing a string of Wellington, Florida properties in 2016. The reason? Their daughter Jennifer is a nationally ranked show jumper, and the Florida town is the equestrian capital of the US.

Jennifer Gates
Pascal Le Segretain / Getty Images

Source: Business Insider, Business Insider, Business Insider

Melinda has said her relationship with her husband has changed over time. "We've had to change to really be coequals," she said. "It's not something that immediately happens overnight, but we're both committed to it."

Bill Gates Melinda
Gazi Sarwar/AP Images

Source: Business InsiderFortune

Melinda said the couple still did the dishes together every night to keep the partnership equal.

bill and melinda gates
Getty Images

Source: Business Insider

According to Melinda, Bill was used to being in charge from his Microsoft days when they first started the foundation.

Bill and Melinda Gates
Melinda and Bill Gates.The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation/YouTube

Source: Gates Notes

But these days, Bill and Melinda work as partners at the foundation. They both received Presidential Medals of Freedom in 2016 from President Barack Obama for their efforts.

Melinda Bill Gates
Kamil Zihnioglu, Pool/AP Images

Source: Business Insider, The White House

They work to make sure their schedules are synchronized, complimentary, and balanced. "Melinda and I look over our schedules a lot to make sure we are balancing things well," Gates wrote in a 2018 Reddit AMA.

Bill Gates
John Lamparski/Getty Images

Source: Reddit

In response to a question about how the couple handles arguments, Melinda jokingly wrote "we never disagree" in the Gates' 2018 annual letter.

Bill Gates, Melinda Gates, Bill Gates Sr., Mimi Gates
Darren McCollester, Getty

Source: Gates Notes

"Our occasional disagreements these days are over tactics. Because I've been a public figure longer, and because I’m a man, some people assume I am making the big decisions. That's never been the case," Bill wrote in the Gates Foundation's annual letter for 2018.

Bill and Melinda Gates TED
TED/James Duncan Davidson

Source: Gates Notes

Melinda added that the couple avoids serious disagreements by sharing fundamental values, trust, and a sense of open-mindedness.

Bill and Melinda Gates
Melinda and Bill Gates.Brian Ach/Getty Images for The Lasker Foundation

Source: Gates Notes

Warren Buffett, who is close with the couple, told Fortune that Bill was "smart as hell, obviously," but that "in terms of seeing the whole picture," Melinda was smarter.

Bill Gates Melinda Warren Buffett
Seth Wenig/AP Images

Source: Fortune, Business Insider

In a Reddit AMA, Gates disclosed that his wife and Buffett were his two favorite celebrities...

Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett
Warren Buffett speaks to the media with Bill and Melinda Gates June 26, 2006 at a news conference where Buffett spoke about his financial gift to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in New York City.Spencer Platt / Getty

Source: Reddit

... followed by Bono and Jimmy Carter. He added that Nelson Mandela was the most impressive political leader he's ever met.

bono munich security conference 2017
Musician Bono from U2 reacts at the opening of the 53rd Munich Security Conference in Munich, Germany, February 17, 2017. REUTERS/Michael DalderMichael Dalder/Reuters

Source: Reddit

When it comes to their working partnership, Bill wrote that the perception that Melinda is "the heart" of the organization is a bit of a stereotype, in the 2018 annual letter.

Bill Gates Melinda
ED Bailey/AP Images

Source: Gates Notes

"Just as she knows I'm more emotional than people realize, I know she's more analytical than people realize. When I get really enthusiastic about something, I count on her to make sure I'm being realistic."

Bill Gates Melinda
Michel Euler/AP Images

Source: Gates Notes

"Melinda and I believe that everyone deserves the chance for a healthy and productive life — and so with the help of our amazing partners, we are working to find innovative ways to help people in need all over the world," Bill wrote during one of his Reddit AMAs.

Bill Gates Melinda
Peter Macdiarmid / Getty Images

Source: Reddit

Bill announced on May 3 the couple made the decision to end their marriage.


"After a great deal of thought and a lot of work on our relationship, we have made the decision to end our marriage," Bill Gates said in a tweet. "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."

Source: Twitter

Melinda had reportedly been seeking a divorce since 2019, and unnamed sources told The New York Times Bill had pursued other women while married.

Bill and Melinda Gates
File photo from November 24, 1998.Reuters

Since announcing the divorce, news reports revealed complications in Bill and Melinda's relationship.

Sources told The New York Times the Microsoft founder was dismissive toward his wife during meetings and asked other women to dinner. The Wall Street Journal reported Melinda had been consulting divorce lawyers since 2019, after Bill's ties to Jeffrey Epstein were made public.


Their divorce was finalized in August 2021

Bill and Melinda Gates
Bill and Melinda GatesAP Photo/Seth Wenig

Bill and Melinda French Gates' divorce was finalized in August 2021, according to court records.

Between 2022 and this year, Bill Gates started dating Paula Hurd, the widow of late Oracle CEO Mark Hurd, according to Page Six.

Read the original article on Business Insider