Melinda Gates: 'I Had Some Reasons I Just Couldn't Stay In That Marriage'

She and Bill Gates divorced in 2021, and she called the end "incredibly painful."

Melinda French Gates said recently that the COVID-19 pandemic helped facilitate her “unbelievably painful” divorce from Bill Gates.

“I had some reasons I just couldn’t stay in that marriage anymore,” French Gates, 58, told Fortune magazine in an interview this week. “But the odd thing about COVID is that it gave me the privacy to do what I needed to do.”

The philanthropist said she and her Microsoft co-founding ex still operate their Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation together, presenting awkward challenges.

“I kept working with the person I was moving away from, and I needed to show up and be my best self every single day,” she said. “So even though I might be crying at 9 a.m. and then have to be on a video conference at 10 a.m. with the person I’m leaving, I have to show up and be my best.”

“I learned as a leader that I could do it. It reminded me that the foundation calls me to be my best,” she continued.

Bill Gates and Melinda French Gates pose together in Kirkland, Washington.
Bill Gates and Melinda French Gates pose together in Kirkland, Washington.
Elaine Thompson via Associated Press

The two, who have three young-adult children, announced their split in May 2021. A report emerged shortly afterward that Microsoft’s board of directors determined in 2020 that Gates needed to step down from the board amid a probe that he had a past affair with an employee. He admitted to the extramarital relationship, which began in 2000, but said through a spokesperson that he resigned from the board of his own accord.

A report in October 2021 said Gates was warned by executives in 2008 to stop sending flirtatious emails to employees.

The couple’s divorce was finalized in August 2021.

French Gates said previously that her reasons for the divorce could be distilled into no longer being able to “trust what we had.”

“It wasn’t one moment or one specific thing that happened,” French Gates told host Gayle King on CBS This Morning. “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.”

Popular in the Community


What's Hot