Melinda French Gates is urging her fellow billionaires to give away more of their wealth.
"If you are lucky enough to be a billionaire, believe me, you can give away half of it," she told CBS.
French Gates cofounded the Giving Pledge, where signees commit to giving away most of their wealth.
Melinda French Gates has a message for her fellow billionaires: start giving away your money.
French Gates discussed her approach to philanthropy during an interview with Gayle King on CBS Mornings that aired Thursday. It's French Gates' first TV interview since her widely publicized divorce from Microsoft founder Bill Gates, which became official last August.
"If you are lucky enough to be a billionaire, believe me, you can give away half of it and not change your life," she said.
She added: "We should have a society where if for whatever reason wealth is in your hands, you put it back in society so that you change and you lift up others.
Her former husband has been among the world's richest people for nearly three decades and following their divorce, French Gates became a billionaire in her own right — her net worth currently stands at $11.5 billion, according to Bloomberg's Billionaires Index.
French Gates remains co-chair for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, a philanthropic organization with a focus on fighting poverty and disease that has given away over $60 billion since 1994. And she has her own company, Pivotal Ventures, that focuses on funding women and families through investments or philanthropy.
The 57-year-old also committed to giving away the majority of her wealth: In 2010, she founded the Giving Pledge along with Gates and Warren Buffett. The pledge requires signees to commit to giving away at least half of their wealth during their lifetime or shortly after their death. MacKenzie Scott, Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg, and more than 200 others have signed the pledge so far.
Following her divorce from Gates, French Gates published a new Giving Pledge letter, which echoed the comments she made to King on Thursday.
"Giving away money your family will never need is not an especially noble act," she wrote. "I recognize the absurdity of so much wealth being concentrated in the hands of one person, and I believe the only responsible thing to do with a fortune this size is give it away—as thoughtfully and impactfully as possible."
The Wall Street Journal reported earlier this month that French Gates now plans to spread her fortune among multiple philanthropic organizations rather than give most of her fortune to the Gates Foundation, as the couple had committed to doing in their original Giving Pledge letter.
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