- CNN journalist Van Jones and celebrated chef José Andrés received over N41 billion each from Amazon founder Jeff Bezos
- Jones and Andres will be free to do anything they want with the money, including giving to their preferred charities
- Bezos also thanked Amazon employees and customers for making his trip to space possible
- The billionaire has, in recent times, been chastised for not donating more to philanthropy
USA - After flying to the edge of space on Tuesday, Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, announced he would donate $100 million (over N41 billion) to CNN journalist Van Jones and chef José Andrés each.
Jones and Andrés, according to Bezos, are free to do anything they want with the money, including giving to their preferred charities.
The money, Bezos said, was tied to a surprise philanthropic initiative he wanted to announce called the Courage and Civility Award, CNN reported.
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Thanking those involved
Bezos said at a press conference after his trip to space:
"They can give it all to their own charity or they can share the wealth. It is up to them.''
The world's wealthiest man further said the prize is intended to recognize those who have exhibited courage and attempted to be a unifier in a contentious world.
"We need unifiers and not vilifiers. We need people who argue hard and act hard for what they believe. But they do that always with civility and never ad hominem attacks.
"Unfortunately, we live in a world where this is too often not the case. But we do have role models''
As reported by NPR, Bezos also thanked every Amazon employee and customer for making the trip to space possible, noting it was them who had paid for it all.
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Accepting the award
Accepting the award, Jones said that sometimes dreams do come true while appreciating it and later added that it was important for him to give to others who have a similar spirit.
Andrés, who has poured his efforts into feeding those in need around the world, on the other hand, said the award itself could not feed the world on its own.
"This is is a start of a new chapter for us."
Bezos and Richard Branson trip to space
Bezos' altruistic initiative comes as he and other billionaires, including Virgin Galactic investor Richard Branson, face criticism for spending their money on space tourism.
Bezos has been chastised in the past for not donating more to philanthropy, although he has donated billions of dollars to causes such as climate change and food banks in recent years.
Critics argue that instead of flying off into space, the world's wealthiest people should seek to better people's lives on Earth.
Bezos and proponents of space programs, on the other hand, argued that both are possible.