Be­zos forced to an­nounce di­vorce ahead of tell-all

Weekend Post (South Africa) - - News - Roz­ina Sabur

Jeff Be­zos, the Ama­zon founder, was forced to an­nounce his di­vorce ahead of a tell-all story about his eight-month af­fair with a for­mer TV pre­sen­ter, it was re­ported on Thurs­day.

The Na­tional Enquirer re­vealed on Thurs­day it had tailed the bil­lion­aire for four months across five states as he en­gaged in se­cret trysts with Lau­ren Sanchez, a for­mer Fox pre­sen­ter.

The mag­a­zine claimed to have ob­tained an em­bar­rass­ing ex­change of texts be­tween Be­zos, 54, and Sanchez, 49, who is mar­ried to Hol­ly­wood tal­ent agent Pa­trick White­sell.

It claimed to have con­tacted Be­zos in­form­ing him of its in­ves­ti­ga­tion 48 hours be­fore he pub­licly an­nounced he was di­vorc­ing his wife MacKen­zie.

The pair have been mar­ried for 25 years and have four chil­dren to­gether.

MacKen­zie, who is a nov­el­ist and was one of Ama­zon’s first em­ploy­ees, is ex­pected to be­come the rich­est woman on the planet after their di­vorce set­tle­ment.

Be­zos has an es­ti­mated net worth of $140bn (R1.9-tril­lion) and un­der di­vorce laws in Wash­ing­ton state, where the fam­ily live, cou­ples with­out an ex­ist­ing agree­ment split any as­sets equally.

Asked about the di­vorce on Thurs­day, US pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump, a vo­cal critic of Be­zos, told re­porters “it’s go­ing to be a beauty”.

Be­zos has been a reg­u­lar tar­get for the US pres­i­dent, in part due to his own­er­ship of the Wash­ing­ton Post news­pa­per, which fre­quently crit­i­cises the cur­rent ad­min­is­tra­tion.

The Na­tional Enquirer’s pub­lisher, David Pecker, is a key me­dia ally of the pres­i­dent and the mag­a­zine en­joyed a cosy re­la­tion­ship with Trump lead­ing up to the 2016 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion.

In 2018, it was re­vealed that Pecker, CEO of Amer­i­can Me­dia Inc (AMI), had been granted im­mu­nity by US prose­cu­tors in ex­change for help­ing dur­ing the pros­e­cu­tion of Michael Co­hen, Trump’s for­mer lawyer, over hush pay­ments to women dur­ing the 2016 elec­tion.

One of them in­volved a $150,000 (R2m) pay­ment from AMI to Karen McDou­gal, a for­mer Play­boy model, to sup­press her claims of an af­fair with Trump.

The Trump records were stored along­side sim­i­lar doc­u­ments per­tain­ing to other celebri­ties’ catch-and-kill deals, in which ex­clu­sive rights to peo­ple’s sto­ries were bought with no in­ten­tion of pub­lish­ing to keep them out of the news.

Pecker, a long-stand­ing friend of the pres­i­dent, re­port­edly met with prose­cu­tors and gave de­tails about the pay­ments, in­clud­ing de­tails re­lat­ing to Trump’s knowl­edge of the deals.

Dy­lan Howard, chief con­tent of­fi­cer of AMI, was also given im­mu­nity by prose­cu­tors, ac­cord­ing to The Wall Street Jour­nal. Howard was one of the au­thors of the mag­a­zine’s tell-all on Be­zos.

Sanchez and White­sell are thought to have sep­a­rated in the au­tumn but have not for­mally filed for di­vorce.

A lawyer rep­re­sent­ing Be­zos told The Enquirer that it was widely known the busi­ness­man and his wife had been long sep­a­rated.

Pho­to­graph: DANNY MOLOSHOK/REUTERS

‘LONG SEP­A­RATED’: Ama­zon CEO Jeff Be­zos and his wife MacKen­zie

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