Bill and Melinda Gates Announce Divorce: 'We No Longer Believe We Can Grow Together as a Couple'
Bill and Melinda Gates are divorcing.
On Monday, the pair shared a joint statement on Twitter, announcing their separation. "After a great deal of thought and a lot of work on our relationship, we have made the decision to end our marriage. 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," they said, referring to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which they founded in 2000 and is now worth over $40 billion.
"We continue to share a belief in that mission and will continue our work together at the foundation, but we no longer believe we can grow together as a couple in this next phase of our lives. We ask for space and privacy for our family as we begin to navigate this new life," they concluded in the statement.
The billionaire Microsoft co-founder, 65, and the philanthropist and former general manager at Microsoft, 56, married on the Hawaiian island of Lanai on Jan. 1, 1994. They share three children: son Rory John, 21, and daughters Phoebe Adele, 18, and Jennifer Katharine, 25.
Melinda previously spoke about how upon graduating college and landing her first job at a start-up, she began dating Bill, who was the company's CEO. "I met her at a New York City sales meeting," Bill said in a 2017 interview with CBS Sunday Morning. "And then it was only a week or so after that, that I went up to her in the parking lot and asked if she wanted to go out."
In the same interview, Melinda spoke about their foundation. "It's absolutely a partnership of equals. It's important to both of us that the world understands that we are running this place together. This is our joint values being played out in the world," she said at the time.
And in 2018, Melinda similarly told PEOPLE: "We lead this organization together—the goals, the people we hire, the values we set—we enjoy doing that together. Bill is the first person I want to talk to when I get back from being out in the field. We sharpen each other's thinking."
Then in 2019, Melinda spoke about their marriage when they celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary.
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In an interview with The Sunday Times for her book, The Moment of Lift: How Empowering Women Changes the World, the mother of three revealed details about the early days of dating Bill.
"He needs a little training, and he'd tell you that too," she told the outlet, noting that he was generally easy to live with but recalling a time when she got angry with him after she needed help packing up the family car and getting their three children ready to go while Bill was deep in a book about Winston Churchill.
At the time, she shared that patience was the key to their relationship. "When he was having trouble making the decision about getting married, he was incredibly clear that it was not about me, it was about, 'Can I get the balance right between work and family life?' " Melinda said.