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Jeff Bezos gives $100 million to Dolly Parton

Head of Amazon Jeff Bezos arrives for the Axel Springer award ceremony on April 24, 2018 in Berlin, Germany. (Jorg Carstensen/DPA/Zuma Press/TNS)
November 14, 2022

Billionaire Amazon founder Jeff Bezos recently gave country music legend Dolly Parton $100 million, naming her the third winner of his Courage and Civility Award.

The 76-year-old singer can direct the funds to whatever charities she sees fit, Bezos’ partner Lauren Sanchez said during the award ceremony.

“Wow! Did you say 100 million dollars?” Parton said as she took the stage, adding, “When people are in a position to help, you should help. … I’ve always said I try to put my money where my heart is, and I think you (Bezos) do the same thing. I will do my best to do good things with this money.”

The award is targeted at “leaders who aim high, find solutions, and who always do it with civility,” as Sanchez explained during the ceremony.

Leading up to the announcement, Bezos said Parton “gives with her heart. What she’s done for kids and literacy and so many other things is just incredible.”

The singer, inducted this month into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, has founded multiple charities, including Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, which mails free books to children. 

Over the summer she donated $1 million toward pediatric infectious disease research at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, the institution announced.

The two previous recipients of the Courage and Civility Award were José Andrés, a chef who founded the nonprofit World Central Kitchen, and Van Jones, a CNN commentator who founded organizations for prison reform and racial justice.

He gave the first two awards last year during the press conference that followed his brief space flight on a rocket built by his company, Blue Origin. In a space suit and cowboy hat, Bezos stressed the “civility” component of the award.

“We need unifiers and not vilifiers,” he said. “People who argue hard and act hard for what they truly believe, but they do that always with civility and never ad hominem attacks. And unfortunately we live in a world where this is too often not the case, but we do have role models.”