Jeff Bezos Gives $100 Million Each to Van Jones and Jose Andrés to Donate to Charity

Jose Andrés, Jeff Bezos, and Van Jones (Joe Raedle/Getty)

If the tight blue spacesuit, the cowboy hat, and the phallic rocket didn’t garner enough attention, Jeff Bezos threw in another $200 million to make Tuesday a spectacle befitting the world’s richest man.

Still sporting his space gear, Bezos unveiled a pair of “Courage and Civility” awards, valued at $100 million apiece, which he said he would hand over to two recipients, no strings attached: “No bureaucracy. No committees. They just do what they want.”

The inaugural awardees were chef José Andrés—whose charity, World Central Kitchen, helps feed masses of people following natural disasters—and Van Jones, who has founded a number of nonprofits but is best known as a CNN political commentator.

Jones was visibly gobsmacked. “You have lifted the ceilings off of the dreams of humanity today,” he said of Bezos. Andrés said the gift would be “the start of a new chapter” for World Central Kitchen.

But the donations raised eyebrows to some in the philanthropic sector.

“Bezos is reacting and responding to the general trend towards no-strings-attached giving, exemplified by [his ex-wife] MacKenzie Scott, but it seems to be done in a kind of hasty, ad-hoc way,” says Benjamin Soskis, a senior research associate in the Center on Nonprofits and Philanthropy at the Urban Institute.

“There is a strange disconnect between the lengthy rollout and build-up to his space program… and the hasty, afterthought ways in which he’s announcing his philanthropy. That does raise concerns that it’s literally an afterthought to him as well.”

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SOURCE: The Daily Beast, Noah Kirsch