Amazon founder and the world’s second-wealthiest individual Jeff Bezos donated a staggering $100 million to former United States President Barack Obama’s eponymously-named foundation, US media reported on Sunday.
Bezos, 57, dedicated his donation to former congressman and civil rights icon John Lewis, who passed away in 2020. The donation entails that the Obama Foundation’s signature project, the Barack Obama Presidential Center, is renamed after John Lewis.
“Freedom fighters deserve a special place in the pantheon of heroes, and I can’t think of a more fitting person to honor with this gift than John Lewis, a great American leader and a man of extraordinary decency and courage,” Jeff Bezos said in a statement on Monday. “I’m thrilled to support President and Mrs. Obama and their Foundation in its mission to train and inspire tomorrow’s leaders."
Bezos, who is worth $210 billion, is under pressure amid inquiries into Amazon’s practices, which have been accused of being monopolistic and anti-competitive. Lina Khan, the Biden-appointed chief of the Federal Trade Commission, is reportedly probing Amazon’s $8.5 billion purchase of movie studio MGM (Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer). Additionally, the five congressional lawmakers who are championing the “Ending Platform Monopolies Act” and trying to end Amazon’s favoring of its own products in search results are presumably a thorn in Bezos' side.
Amazon shares are trading at nearly $3,600 per share – an all-time high that brings Amazon’s market cap to $1.81 trillion.
The Obama Foundation was founded in 2014 by then-President Barack Obama. Other notable donors include Bezos’ ex-wife Mackenzie Scott, Bill and Melinda Gates and ex-Facebook president and Napster founder Sean Parker.
The foundation's signature project, the previously-named Barack Obama Presidential Center (and soon-to-be John Lewis Center), aims to digitize the Barack Obama Presidential Library with the National Archives and Records Administration and create the first fully-digitized presidential library. The center remains under construction and will be located in Jackson Park, Chicago, near the University of Chicago campus. It will cost around $700 million to build, according to the foundation’s estimates. Chicago City Hall has earmarked $485 million and 19.3 acres of public land for the project, the Chicago Sun-Times reported last June.