Bill and Melinda Gates to divorce after 27 years of marriage

By Zach Harper

Microsoft co-founder and former CEO Bill Gates and Melinda Gates are set to divorce after 27 years of marriage.

In a sad announcement on May 3, they took to Twitter to reveal their relationship had broken down.

"After a great deal of thought and a lot of work on our relationship, we have made the decision to end our marriage," they wrote in a statement.

"Over the last 27 years, we have raised three incredible children and built a foundation that works all over the world to enable all people to lead healthy, productive lives.

"We continue to share a belief in that mission and will continue our work together at the foundation, but we no longer believe we can grow together as a couple in this next phase of our lives.

"We ask for space and privacy for our family as we begin to navigate this new life."

Bill, 65, and Melinda, 56, began dating in 1987 after they met at a sales meeting in New York City. He asked her out a week later. He already had a successful career at Microsoft by that point, and she worked for the firm as its marketing manager around the time they met. The couple married in 1994, and wen ton to have three children: Jennifer, Rory and Phoebe.

The Gateses have shared a commitment to philanthropy throughout their marriage. In 2000, they founded the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which had become the world's wealthiest non-governmental organization by 2013, with assets worth at least US$34.6 billion.

They both received the Presidential Medal of Freedom for their work in 2016. Photo: © SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images

The foundation has done extensive work in global development and health. The couple have been outspoken about the its campaign to eradicate polio through vaccinations, along with fighting diseases like malaria, tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS. It also does work on food security issues.

"It's important to both of us that the world understands we are running this place together," Melinda told CBS Sunday Morning of the foundation in 2017. "This is our joint values being played out in the world."

Bill and Melinda have also put their own personal wealth toward improving the world. They were among those who signed the Giving Pledge with Warren Buffett, in which they and the "Oracle of Omaha" agreed to give at least half their wealth to charity over the years.

It remains to be seen how the couple will divide their wealth, and how they will continue to run their foundation. Bill is worth an estimated US$124 billion, according to Forbes.

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