How did Bill and Melinda Gates meet? She turned him down the first time he flirted with her and asked her out
Unfortunately, they 'no longer believe' they can 'grow together' as a couple in the next phase of their lives, the couple shared to the world in their joint statement
Bill and Melinda Gates left the entire world shocked and stunned when they announced the end to their nearly three-decade-long marriage. The billionaires opened up via a statement about the assets they have built and raised together, including their charity foundation that aids many around the world and their three beloved children whom they couldn't be more proud of.
Unfortunately, they "no longer believe" they can "grow together as a couple in the next phase of our lives" - the couple shared to the world in their joint statement, leaving hearts broken all over. If not them, then who, right? Here's a look at how they sparked a relationship in the first place.
How did Bill and Melinda Gates meet?
Bill, 65, and Melinda, 56, met all the way back in 1987 when he was her boss at Microsoft — the company Bill founded. Melinda allegedly turned down Bill’s first date invitation. At a Microsoft company picnic in 1987, Bill 'flirted' with her in the parking lot and asked if she would go out with him in two weeks. She turned him down because it was 'not spontaneous enough', The New York Times once reported. She did, however, give Bill her number. “Ask me out closer to the date," she told him. An hour or two later, Bill called her and invited her out for that evening. "'Is this spontaneous enough for you?’ he asked.”
Quipping about the initial process of asking her out, Bill had said in the 2019 Netflix miniseries 'Inside Bill's Brain': "She had other boyfriends, and I had Microsoft. We were like, ‘Hey we are not really serious about each other, are we? We are not going to demand each other’s time.'"
The couple made a point to keep “a low profile at work and asked colleagues and family members to respect their privacy.”
Little did they know how serious things would get between the two of them so much so, that Bill had to sit down with a pros-cons list of whether he should propose to Melinda. Eventually, he decided to and after seven long years of dating then tied the knot in a gala Hawaiian wedding in the island of Lanai on New Year's Day in 1994.
According to Business Insider, the whole even cost $1 million. They recited their vows next to the par-3 12th hole on Manele Bay Hotel's golf course.
The couple's three children
By 1996, the couple had welcomed their first child together - a daughter called Jennifer. This is when Melinda decided to step back from her career annd shortly after she welcomed two more children with Bill - son Rory in 1999 and another daughter, Phoebe, in 2000. Speaking about giving up her job at Microsoft after nine successful years, Melinda had once said, "Just like in a family with kids, in business, we show up with a united front that this is who we are." And this reflected as the couple reorganized their past charitable organizations into the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation where they both served on the board of trustees, with Bill often calling it an equal partnership.
“In the case of Melinda, it is a truly equal partner,” Bill had said in the Netflix series. “She’s a lot like me in that she is optimistic and she is interested in science. She is better with people than I am. She’s a tiny bit less hardcore about knowing, you know, immunology, than I am.” The earliest version of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation arrived in 1994 and kicked off as a philanthropic organization focusing on global health, education, as well as access to digital information through public libraries and support for the at-risk families. The couple then reached the iconic levels of being named Times' Persons of the Year in 2005 along with U2 singer Bono.
Time's 2005 Persons of the Year
“We realize that we’ve been extremely fortunate in business, and we want to give back in ways that can do the most good for the most people,” they had shared over a statement at the time of receiving the honor, adding: "But we also believe that everyone has something to offer — time, money, or energy — that can help others.” Marked by several highs and lows, their life's next big milestone came in 2019 when Melinda released her book 'The Moment of Lift: How Empowering Women Changes the World'.
Over a Facebook live, she had opened up saying “I’m always interested in his (Bill's) point of view and I know he’s always interested in mine, I think sometimes our disagreements sharpen the questions that we ask each other." And when it was his turn, Bill couldn't help gushing about the joy of working alongside his wife. "Working together as well as raising a family together, there’s a certain intensity to that. But we’re very lucky because we mostly see things the same way, the goals are very much the same." Melinda, a Texas native, also made sure to thank her husband for sharing the load - be it dropping the kids off at school or doing the dishes back at home.
Divorce after almost 30 years
Commenting on others' perception of their relationship, she told USA Today in 2019: "I think people have a certain view of Bill, because he was a high-charging CEO running Microsoft. I think people must think, ‘Oh well, Melinda must not really have equality with Bill.’ Actually, I have total equality with Bill. But it took a while for us to get there.” And that was the last time they had given the public eye a peek into their romance. The next time we heard of Bill and Melinda Gates doing something together, it was the couple announcing their divorce.
“After a great deal of thought and a lot of work on our relationship, we have made the decision to end our marriage,” they two said in a statement on Monday, May 3. “Over the last 27 years, we have raised three incredible children and built a foundation that works all over the world to enable all people to lead healthy, productive lives. We continue to share a believer in that mission and will continue our work together at the foundation, but we no longer believe we can grow together as a couple in this next phase of our lives.”
As court documents reveal they have a separation contract, their eldest child Jennifer has also opened up about the difficult time on Instagram. “It’s been a challenging stretch of time for our whole family,” she wrote in an Instagram Story, adding: “I’m still learning how to best support my own process and emotions as well as family members at this time, and am grateful for the space to do so. I won’t personally comment further on anything around the separation, but please know that your kind words and support mean the world to me.”