Melinda Gates Opens Up for the First Time on Divorce With Bill Gates and Addresses Jeffrey Epstein Connection

In a new interview with Gayle King, Melinda French Gates opens up about her decades-long marriage to Bill Gates, as well as their recent divorce.

View this video on YouTube

Melinda French Gates says it wasn’t just “one specific thing” that led to her and Bill Gates’ widely publicized divorce.

In a new interview shared by CBS Mornings this week, Melinda was asked about her split from Bill, as well as her thoughts on her former husband’s much-discussed connection with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.

“I certainly believe in forgiveness,” French told Gayle King around the 1:40 mark above when asked about affairs-focused reports on the Microsoft co-founder. “So I thought we had worked through some of that. It wasn’t one moment or one specific thing that happened. There just came a point in time where there was enough there where I realized it just wasn’t healthy and I couldn’t trust what we had.”

Around 2:10, Gayle asked about the Epstein connection, prompting Melinda (who currently co-chairs the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation with her ex-husband) to recount what she says was her lone interaction with the disgraced financier.

“Yeah, as I said, it’s not one thing. It was many things,” she said when asked if this played a part in her and Bill’s eventual divorce. “But I did not like that he’d had meetings with Jeffrey Epstein, no.” Continuing, French said she had “made that clear” with Bill at the time.

“I also met Jeffrey Epstein exactly one time. Yes. Because I wanted to see who this man was,” the Pivotal Ventures creator said. “And I regretted it from the second I stepped in the door. He was abhorrent. He was evil personified. I had nightmares about it afterwards. So my heart breaks for these young women because that’s how I felt, and here I’m an older woman? My God, I feel terrible for those young women.”

Speaking more generally about her and Bill’s marriage and the ensuing divorce, Melinda said she’s now “turning a page in the chapter” and is “actually really excited” about what’s to come. As for her and Bill’s working relationship, Melinda described it as productive, with room to grow.

“We’re friendly at this point,” she told CBS. “‘Friends’ is a different word for me. That might come over time. But for me there’s still healing that needs to happen. Certainly, I wish him well. I don’t wish him harm.”

In a statement to CBS News in response, Bill Gates said he “will always be sorry for the pain that I caused Melinda and our family.” He continued: “I admire Melinda and everything she does to improve the lives of women and girls around the world, and I’m grateful for the work we continue to do together at our foundation.”

Bill Gates previously said that having spent time with Jeffrey Epstein was a “huge mistake” in an interview with Anderson Cooper last year, saying the two had “several dinners” before their relationship was brought to a close.

“But it was a huge mistake to spend time with him, to give him the credibility of being there,” Gates said at the time, noting that Epstein didn’t back up his word about being able to get “billions of philanthropy for global health” through his contacts. “You know, there were lots of others in that same situation, but I made a mistake.”

Bill and Melinda announced their divorce last May after 27 years of marriage. In a joint statement, the two requested privacy as they both started up a “new life.”

Latest in Life