Why Melinda Gates Turned Bill Gates Down When He First Asked Her Out

"You're not spontaneous enough for me," she told the Microsoft mogul

Bill and Melinda Gates. Photo: Brian Ach/Getty

He’s one of the most successful men on the planet, but when Microsoft co-founder and CEO Bill Gates first asked Melinda Gates (then Melinda French) out for the first time, she was less than impressed – at first.

They first met in 1987, when Melinda was a newly hired product manager at Microsoft. Several months later, Bill called her to ask her out on a date. “He said, ‘You know, I was thinking maybe we could go out two weeks from [tonight],’ ” Gates, 50, tells AOL’s MAKERS, a global digital platform that features the stories of female trailblazers, including one on Melinda Gates, in honor of Women’s History Month.

Her response was less than enthusiastic: “Two weeks from tonight? I have no idea what I’m doing two weeks from tonight,” she told him. “You aren’t spontaneous enough for me.”

The Microsoft legend, now 59, wasn’t ready to give up. “He called me about an hour later and he said, ‘Is this spontaneous enough for you?’ ” recalls Gates. “And I said, ‘Okay, I guess that’s pretty spontaneous. I guess we can try.’ ”

After seven years of dating, they married on Jan. 1, 1994. The couple have three daughters, and in 2000, they founded the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, making them one of the most philanthropic and powerful couples of our time.

And that’s something they definitely agree on. “Late in the dating stages, we talked about the wealth,” Gates tells AOL’s MAKERS. “It was our first trip to Africa. At the end of that trip, on a beach walk, we said, ‘Absolutely, the vast majority of these resources will go back to society.’ We just committed to it. It was just a natural, easy decision for us.”

Related Articles