Bezos awards Eva Longoria, Adm. William McRaven $50M grants for charity

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Amazon founder Jeff Bezos has awarded $50 million each to actress Eva Longoria and retired Navy Adm. William McRaven to be spent on charitable organizations.

Longoria and McRaven each received the Courage and Civility Award, according to a person present at the announcement on Thursday, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk publicly about the winners. Bezos, who owns The Washington Post, began distributing the award to philanthropists in 2021.

Longoria, who starred on the prime-time television series “Desperate Housewives,” established the Eva Longoria Foundation in 2012 to improve education and entrepreneurship opportunities for Latinas.

She told Elle magazine that she plans to use the money to “continue doing what I’ve been doing” with the foundation, and funding Eva’s Heroes, an arm of the organization that supports the special-needs community, created in honor of Longoria’s sister.

McRaven is a retired Navy admiral who directed the 2011 raid that killed Osama bin Laden and is also the former chancellor of the University of Texas System. He and his wife contribute to the Special Operations Warrior Foundation, which supports the families of fallen service members, and the BrainHealth Project, which provides mental health resources to veterans.

McRaven told Elle that he would split the money between those two initiatives, as well as training future military leaders.

“While the service academies pay for everything, the [Reserve Officers’ Training Corps] program, from which we get a lot of our military leaders, do not cover all the costs,” he said. “This causes a lot of young men and women not to join the military.”

Bezos did not hand out the award in 2023, but the three previous recipients were each given $100 million. Country singer Dolly Parton was the recipient in 2022. Chef and humanitarian José Andrés and CNN commentator and activist Van Jones received the inaugural awards.

The previous winners operated their own philanthropic organizations.

Parton runs the Imagination Library, which has gifted books to children since 1995. Andrés said in 2021 that he would invest the money in his World Central Kitchen, which provides meals to people in need around the globe. And Jones helps manage a nonprofit organization called Dream Corps, which works to address climate change, mass incarceration and economic inequality.

Bezos, 60, is the world’s second-richest person, with a net worth of $201 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. He told CNN in 2022 that he planned to give away most of his fortune during his lifetime.

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