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The richest couple in the world

In the event that the Trump administration ends protections for young immigrants living in the U.S. illegally, a scholarship group that recently collected its biggest donation yet from Bezos says it is exploring ways to help students if they are deported.
In the event that the Trump administration ends protections for young immigrants living in the U.S. illegally, a scholarship group that recently collected its biggest donation yet from Bezos says it is exploring ways to help students if they are deported. AP Photo - Susan Walsh

HE might be the richest man in the world, but Jeff Bezos still does the dishes every single night.

In fact, the Amazon founder and his novelist wife MacKenzie have made being down to Earth into something of an art form.

The couple is famously low-key - MacKenzie drove their four kids to school in a Honda Accord every day until 2013 - despite their vast, $140 billion fortune.

It has even been reported that Bezos, 54, still has a desk at Amazon made out of a door with four-by-fours for legs as a reminder of his humble beginnings.

But what is everyday life really like for the world's wealthiest couple?

While Bezos is known for being tight with his cash, he's also not afraid to splurge.

According to The Sun, the pair spent $84 million on a private jet in 2015, and they are fond of flying off to Rome for getaways.

The family is based in a $32 million home in Washington State with Bill Gates as a neighbour, but also owns a string of luxury, multimillion-dollar properties across the US.

His property portfolio is so extensive Business Insider reported Bezos is the 25th largest landowner in America.

And according to Fortune, Amazon spent almost $2 million on private security for Bezos in 2016 - while other similarly high-profile CEOs spent a fraction of that amount on their own security.

But on the other hand, long-term friend Danny Hillis told Vogue the family is "such a normal, close-knit family, it's almost abnormal".

The family start each day with a healthy breakfast together, and Bezos avoids organising work meetings first thing in the morning to maximise precious family time.

The couple met at work at New York hedge fund DE Shaw in 1993.

MacKenzie asked Jeff out to lunch, and they were engaged three months later, and married after just six months together.

A year later they quit their jobs, drove across the country to Seattle and founded Amazon, with MacKenzie working as the company's accountant in the early days.

Today, experts believe the online behemoth could become the world's first trillion-dollar company in 2018.

One area where the Bezos' don't tend to spend big in is philanthropy - a habit that has raised many eyebrows, especially considering the well-documented generosity of other big-name CEOs like Bill Gates and Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg.

He did donate $3 million towards legalising same-sex marriage in 2012, and has made much larger donations to the Bezos Family Foundation, which is run by his parents, as well as to the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Centre.

And Jeff Bezos is known for treating his wife to clothes and accessories, telling Vogue: "Sometimes I call her and say, 'What's your such-and-such size?' and she says, 'Why?' and I say, 'None of your business!' It delights her."

But no matter how vast the couple's fortune grows, Bezos still insists on doing the family's dishes himself every night.

"I'm pretty convinced it's the sexiest thing I do," he once told Business Insider CEO Henry Blodget.

Born in Chicago, Jeff Bezos graduated from Princeton University with degrees in electrical engineering and computer science in 1986.

He worked on Wall St after graduating until moving to Seattle and founding Amazon in 1994, with the company originally operating out of the garage of Jeff and MacKenzie's one-bedroom house.

The company initially began as an online bookseller before expanding into a huge range of products and services.

He launched the aerospace company Blue Origin in 2000 and purchased The Washington Post newspaper in 2013.

Blue Origin started space test flights in 2015 and plans are underway to kick off commercial suborbital human spaceflight this year.

MacKenzie Bezos also studied at Princeton, earning a bachelor's degree in English in 1992.

She was taught by writer Toni Morrison, who said she was "one of the best students I've ever had in my creative writing classes".

MacKenzie Bezos published her debut novel The Testing of Luther Albright in 2005, followed by Traps in 2013.

In 2014, she founded anti-bullying organisation Bystander Revolution, and she remains the executive director.

 

alexis.carey@news.com.au

Topics:  amazon editors picks fortune jeff bezos richest couple