Bill Gates Admits to 'Mistakes' When Asked if Cheating Contributed to Divorce from Melinda: 'I Caused Pain'

"I don't think delving into the particulars at this point is constructive," Bill Gates said on Today

Bill Gates is reflecting on the pain he caused ex-wife Melinda French Gates.

In an interview with Today on Tuesday — exactly one year after the billionaires announced their divorce following 27 years of marriage — the Microsoft co-founder addressed questions about what led to their split.

Bill — whose new book, How to Prevent the Next Pandemic, is out now — said that coming to terms with their divorce made for a "tough year."

"The divorce is definitely a sad thing. I have responsibility for causing a lot of pain to my family," the 66-year-old philanthropist said, going on to note that he feels "good that all of us are moving forward now."

Bill and Melinda Gates
Melinda French Gates and Bill Gates. Kamil Zihnioglu/AFP/Getty

Back in March, Melinda, 57, spoke with CBS Mornings' Gayle King about her own journey of healing as well as some factors that contributed to the divorce.

When asked about the affair Bill had with a staffer about 20 years ago — which a spokesperson for the Microsoft co-founder confirmed last May — Melinda shared she believes "in forgiveness" and "thought we had worked through some of that." She went on to say that rumors about multiple affairs on her ex's end were "questions Bill needs to answer."

"Were you unfaithful in your marriage?" Today's Savannah Guthrie asked Bill during his interview on Tuesday. "Was that one of the reasons there was a divorce?"

"I certainly made mistakes and I take responsibility," he answered. "I don't think delving into the particulars at this point is constructive, but yes, I caused pain, and I feel terrible about that."

Bill Gates Admits ‘He Caused Pain’ When Asked About If He Had Multiple Affairs
Bill Gates. TODAY

During the interview, Bill reiterated his regret at having met with the late disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein — another topic Melinda discussed in her interview with King, where she said there were "many things" that led to the divorce.

"I certainly made a huge mistake, not only meeting him in the first place, but I met with him a number of times," Bill said on Today. "I had a goal of raising money for global health. I didn't realize the meeting with him almost downplayed the incredibly awful things he did. I learned more about that over time."

"But I'd add that to the list of big mistakes, including where Melinda's advice was sound and I should have followed it sooner than I did," he added.

Asked about what it was like to hear his ex-wife speak out about their divorce for the first time in March, Bill said it "was a very tough thing."

"It's a very hard adjustment," he said. "I know divorces are different, but it's just a complete change. We were partners, we kind of grew up together, and now that's different."

Despite their divorce, the pair remain committed to their work together through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation — something Bill says he feels "lucky" to have.

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As for his new book, Gates said it's important to start talking now about preventing potential pandemics in the future, even as the world faces fatigue over the COVID-19 pandemic.

"I don't want us to wait until we forget about how awful this has been," he said. "We've had tens of millions of deaths, trillions of dollars of economic loss, education loss, depression, and with a few key steps, we can make sure this won't happen again."

As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from the CDC, WHO and local public health departments.

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