Why Jeff Bezos' Biological Father Didn't Know Who His Billionaire Son Was for Years
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos may be the richest man in the world, but he came from humble beginnings.
Bezos, 55, is in the news after announcing his divorce from wife, MacKenzie, after 25 years and his new love with news anchor and actress Lauren Sanchez — but the entrepreneur’s early family life is also newsworthy as it included an estranged relationship with his biological father, Ted Jorgensen.
The billionaire was born to teenage parents in Albuquerque, New Mexico, in 1964. Jorgensen, was 18 at the time of his birth, while his mother, Jacklyn Gise, was 17.
Jorgensen and Gise were married for 17 months, according to an excerpt from Brad Stone’s book The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon, in Bloomberg Businessweek in 2013.
Three years later, Gise remarried a Cuban immigrant, Miguel Bezos, who adopted her young son, legally changing his name, according to Stone’s book.
Jorgensen, who died in 2015 at the age of 70, and his son didn’t see each other after that, drifting apart as Bezos grew up with his parents and two siblings: sister Christina and brother Mark.
When interviewed by Stone in 2013, Jorgensen seemingly appeared confused at the suggestion he was the father of Amazon’s CEO, who is now valued at $137 billion.
“Jorgensen said he didn’t know who Jeff Bezos was and was baffled by my suggestion that he was the father of this famous CEO,” Stone wrote.
When Jorgensen, then a bike shop owner, did recall details about Bezos and his mother, Stone reported, “The old man’s face flushed with recognition. ‘Is he still alive?’ he asked, not yet fully comprehending.”
According to Stone, Jorgensen said he “wasn’t a good father or a husband” in his younger days.
RELATED VIDEO: Jeff Bezos’ and Lauren Sanchez’s Spouses Knew About Their Romance For Months, Says Source
Jorgensen spoke to Inside Edition in 2014 and said he regretted never keeping in contact with his son.
“A big mistake,” he said. “But at the time, I thought it was best.”
In a 1999 interview with Wired, Bezos said of his biological father, “I’ve never met him.”
“But the reality, as far as I’m concerned, is that my Dad is my natural father,” he continued at the time. “The only time I ever think about it, genuinely, is when a doctor asks me to fill out a form.”
He added, “It’s a fine truth to have out there. I’m not embarrassed by it.”
Bezos honored his mother in a tweet in 2017, writing, “I won the lottery with my mom. Thanks for literally everything, Mom.”
The philanthropist announced his divorce from MacKenzie early last week in a joint statement he shared on Twitter.
“We feel incredibly lucky to have found each other and deeply grateful for every one of the years we have been married to each other,” they said in the statement.
Bezos and MacKenzie share four children: three sons and a daughter.
Meanwhile, Bezos is “in constant contact” with new love Sanchez, 49, who is also divorcing her husband, Hollywood agent Patrick Whitesell.
“It’s a very serious relationship,” a source told PEOPLE.