Bill and Melinda Gates' Divorce Hits China Hard

It was big news on Weibo
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted May 5, 2021 8:28 AM CDT
Bill and Melinda Gates' Divorce Rattles China
In this Jan. 9, 1994, file photo, computer mogul Bill Gates III and bride Melinda French greet guests in a reception line at a private estate in Seattle.   (AP Photo/Dave Weaver, File)

If you were rattled by the news of Bill and Melinda Gates' divorce, your reaction may have paled in comparison to those experienced in China. Or so CNN makes the case in a look at how that country has reacted to the news involving a man who "has achieved a level of fame unlike almost any other Western entrepreneur." It uses this stat to support its argument: On Weibo, a "Bill Gates' divorce" hashtag had been seen more than 830 million times as of Wednesday. The similar tag that sprung up upon the announcement that Jeff and MacKenzie Bezos were divorcing in 2019 got 91 million views, or only 11% as much. CNN credits that to the decades that Microsoft has worked on establishing a foothold in China, where Microsoft properties like Bing and LinkedIn are permitted.

CNN shares a number of reactions, including that of the former head of Google China, who paired his disbelief with the observation that Bill and Melinda Gates are "the most affectionate couple I've seen among celebrity entrepreneurs." As for Melinda, the Guardian reports she could end up the second-richest woman on the planet when the divorce is finalized. The couple had no prenup, and Washington state law dictates an even split of assets—meaning she could end up with a $73 billion fortune. That would be about $10 billion less than the wealth possessed by L'Oreal owner Françoise Bettencourt Meyers. That said, Yahoo reports their divorce filing did state that they have a separation contract, and the filing asks the court to divide their assets as stated in that agreement. (More Bill Gates stories.)

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