Former Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos donated $100 million to former President Barack Obama’s private foundation, the nonprofit’s biggest single gift to date, the Chicago-based foundation announced Monday.
Mr. Bezos, who owns The Washington Post, made the donation in honor of the late Rep. John Lewis. The plaza where the Obama Presidential Center is located will be renamed for the civil rights activist.
“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,” Mr. Bezos said in a statement released by the Obama Foundation. “I’m thrilled to support President and Mrs. Obama and their foundation in its mission to train and inspire tomorrow’s leaders.”
Mr. Bezos‘ fortune has been estimated at $210 billion.
His gift to the Obama Foundation comes as Amazon is feuding with the Biden administration over regulatory issues. Lina Khan, President Biden’s appointee leading the Federal Trade Commission, has criticized Amazon for what she calls anti-competitive business practices and has reportedly extended an investigation into Amazon‘s $8.5 billion purchase of movie studio MGM, Reuters reported in July.
Four major unions, including the Service Employees International Union and the Teamsters, urged the FTC on Monday to oppose Amazon.com‘s plan to buy MGM Studios, saying it would reduce competition in the streaming video market, the wire service reported.
The foundation said it hopes Mr. Bezos‘ donation will “change the paradigm around naming public spaces,” the statement said.
Puck News, which first reported the gift, said there are no restrictions on how the money can be spent.
“We believe that there is incredible power in lifting up the names of extraordinary change agents upon whose shoulders we all stand, and we are thrilled by Mr. Bezos’ offer to name our magnificent Plaza in honor of John Lewis,” said Obama Foundation CEO Valerie Jarrett.
Mr. Bezos stepped down as the head of Amazon in July. Since then, he has increased his philanthropy, including a $1 billion pledge through his Bezos Earth Fund for conservation work.
The donation was arranged by Jay Carney, a former Obama White House press secretary and Amazon’s public policy and public relations chief, Puck News reported.