Sound Stories. Sound Voices.
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
You are on the KUOW archive site. Click here to go to our current site.

Just how rich is Jeff Bezos, compared to you and me?

Jeff Bezos looks up at a living wall during the grand opening of Amazon's spheres in Seattle in January
KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer
Jeff Bezos looks up at a living wall during the grand opening of Amazon's spheres in Seattle in January .

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has become the world’s first centibillionaire. By amassing net wealth estimated by Forbesat $127 billion, he has passed Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates to become the richest human in history.

That number is so large that it’s hard to make sense of. Just how rich is the world’s richest man?

For many people in Seattle, home to Amazon’s rapidly growing headquarters, it has become difficult to find an affordable place to live.

Jeff Bezos could personally buy 160,000 typical Seattle homes, without taking out a loan.

Bezos has enough money to run all public schools in Washington state — for a decade. He'd still have enough left over to continue being a multi-billionaire.

His billions could let Washington state government run, from schools to highways, for at least three years, without any of its 7.1 million residents paying taxes.

If 2 million typical, middle-class Americans put all their assets together, their wealth still wouldn't match Jeff Bezos'.

USA Today reports that Bezos has the wealth of 19 million typical people in China.

He has as much wealth as the poorest 160 million Americans, according to Josh Hoxie with the left-leaning Institute for Policy Studies in Washington, D.C.

Back when Bezos’ Medina, Washington, neighbor Bill Gates was the richest person on earth, he tried to get billionaires to pledge to give away most of their wealth. Since 2010, 175 of the world's richest people have made that pledge.

Bezos hasn't.

Gates would be a centibillionaire as well, but his foundation has given away tens of billions to fight global poverty and disease. Forbes estimates Gates’ net worth at $90 billion.

Bezos has given away much less of his rapidly growing fortune.

The Amazon CEO did ask on Twitter last June for ideas on how to do philanthropy "at the intersection of urgent need and lasting impact." He promised “more to come” in August but still hasn't announced his philanthropy plans.

Bezos has reportedly given around $100 million to charities in recent years.

If a typical middle-class American gave away the same fraction of their wealth, some charity would get 44 bucks.

Year started with KUOW: 2009