Bezos just gave $100 million to actress Eva Longoria and the retired admiral who oversaw Osama bin Laden's capture to use as they see fit

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and his fiancée Lauren Sánchez have given away $100 million to a retired Navy admiral and actress Eva Longoria as part of the billionaire’s annual prize to individuals who make significant contributions to society.

The Desperate Housewives star and Bill McRaven, a veteran and former chancellor of the University of Texas System have been awarded $50 million each to help those in need.

Bezos—who has a net worth of around $200 billion—launched the Courage and Civility Award in 2021 to support philanthropists.

Van Jones, a lawyer and CNN commentator, and the lauded chef and humanitarian José Andrés were the first recipients of the prize. 

“We need unifiers and not vilifiers,” Bezos commented on the reason for launching the award, before revealing the inaugural prize winners.

“People who argue hard and act hard for what they truly believe, but always with civility and never ad hominem attacks. And unfortunately, we live in a world where this is too often not the case.”

Since then, country singing icon Dolly Parton took home the 2022 award, after donating $1 million toward Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine research and books to millions of children through her foundation Imagination Library.

How will Eva Longoria and Bill McRaven use the money?

Twelve years on from embodying Wisteria Lane’s housewife Gabrielle Solis, Longoria has gone on to become a director, the CEO of her own production company, UnbeliEVAble Entertainment and a political activist. 

In 2021, she founded The Eva Longoria Foundation “to help Latinas build better futures for themselves and their families through education and entrepreneurship,” according to its website.

The charitable body achieves that through a variety of programs for aspirational Latinx, including mentorship and access to funding.

With her portion of the award money, Longoria told Elle that she plans to “continue doing what I’ve been doing” with the Eva Longoria Foundation and Eva’s Heroes, a charitable organization within the foundation that supports the special needs community.

Longoria said that her charitable focus is on women because they “are the changemakers in families.” 

“When you help a woman, she helps her family. And then when you help families, you improve communities. And when you improve communities, you can improve nations,” she added.

Meanwhile, McRaven—who oversaw the 2011 raid that killed al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden—has pledged to use the money to develop education programs for future military leaders and the children of deceased veterans, as well as mental health support for those who serve.

“The opportunity to use this incredible gift to help veterans and their families is the dream of a lifetime and I am so grateful to Lauren and Jeff for giving me this opportunity,” he said in a statement to CNN.

Bezos’ says he is on a mission to give away his wealth

The world’s second-richest man (behind only LVMH’s boss Bernard Arnault, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index) didn’t hand out the charitable award last year, but he’s been on a wider mission to give away the majority of his wealth during his lifetime.

Since stepping down as Amazon’s CEO, Bezos has increased his philanthropic efforts and has committed $10 billion to climate change efforts, through an initiative called the Bezos Earth Fund.

Last year, he gave out $117 million in grants to support homeless families through his Bezos Day 1 Families Fund, bringing his total donations to nearly $640 million.

However, critics have in the past been skeptical about just how philanthropic the billionaire really is.

“He’s committed a large amount of money. But it still feels very, very half-baked,” Benjamin Soskis, who researches philanthropy for the Urban Institute previously told Time

Plus, Bezos still hasn’t signed the Giving Pledge. 

Launched by Bill Gates, Melinda French Gates and Warren Buffett in 2010, the campaign encourages billionaires from across industries to commit to giving away at least half of their fortunes to charitable causes.

So far, it’s been signed by 242 billionaires including Elon Musk and even Bezos’ ex-wife, MacKenzie Scott.

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