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Courage and Civility - Jeff Bezos donates $200 million to unify a divisive world

[July 21, 2021: Linda Ikeji]

Jeff Bezos (C) stands with Chef Jose Andres (L) and Van Jones (R), founder of Dream Corps, after announcing a $100 million award for their projects that help humanity. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

The world's wealthiest man, Jeff Bezos, and owner of Amazon has donated the stunning sum of $200m to CNN contributor Van Jones and chef José Andrés.

He made the announcement on Tuesday, July 21, after flying to the edge of space that he planned to award $100 million each to both men.

Bezos said that Jones and Andres were free to do "what they want" with the money.

"They can give it all to their own charity," Bezos said at a press conference after his trip to space. "Or they can share the wealth. It is up to them."

The money, Bezos said, was tied to a "surprise" philanthropic initiative he wanted to announce called the Courage and Civility Award.

"These are people who have demonstrated courage, by the way it's easy to be courageous but also mean, try being courageous and civil, try being courageous and a unifier, that's harder and way better and makes the world better," Bezos said.


"We need unifiers and not vilifiers," Bezos said.

Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

"We need people who argue hard and act hard for what they believe. But they do that always with civility and never ad hominem attacks. Unfortunately, we live in a world where this is too often not the case. But we do have role models."

Jones, accepting the award, said that "sometimes dreams come true."

"You bet on me and I appreciate it," Jones told Bezos, later adding that it was money for him to "give to others who have a similar spirit."

Andrés, a chef, who has poured his efforts into feeding those in need around the world, said that the award itself "cannot feed the world on its own."

"But," Andrés added, "this is a start of a new chapter for us."

Anderson Cooper, who was anchoring CNN's special coverage of Bezos's trip to space said that the award was "quite a surprise."

"None of us knew anything about it," Cooper said.

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