The billionaire philanthropist spoke at length about her 2021 divorce from Gates in a candid interview with “CBS This Morning” that aired Thursday. She said “not one thing, but many things” ultimately led to the split, and stressed that she’s looking toward a new chapter with optimism.
“It wasn’t one moment or one specific thing that happened,” French Gates told host Gayle King. “There just came a point in time where there was enough there where I realized it just wasn’t healthy, and I couldn’t trust what we had.”
However, French Gates acknowledged that her ex-husband’s connection to disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein was a point of contention in their relationship.
“I did not like that he’d had meetings with Jeffrey Epstein, no,” she said. “I made that clear to him. ... [Epstein] was abhorrent. He was evil personified. I had nightmares about it afterward.”
Epstein died by suicide in 2019 while awaiting trial on charges of sex trafficking underage girls. When contacted by CBS ahead of his ex-wife’s interview, Gates released a statement in which he called his ties to Epstein “a mistake that I regret deeply” and “a substantial error in judgement.”
Watch the “CBS This Morning” interview with Melinda French Gates below.
Later in the interview, French Gates said she was committed to maintaining a “productive working relationship” with her former spouse. The pair share three children and remain in charge of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, one of the largest charitable foundations in the world.
“I would say we’re friendly at this point,” she said. “‘Friends’ is a different word for me, and that might come over time, but for me, there’s still healing that needs to happen. Certainly I wish him well.”
These days, French Gates is focused on promoting initiatives that empower women and families through Pivotal Ventures, an organization she founded in 2015. And she hasn’t ruled out the prospect of finding love again.
“I’m dipping my toe in that water a little bit,” she said. “I feel like I’m in a really good place, and I’m really, really excited about my life and about the work ahead.”