Billionaire philanthropist Melinda French Gates may appear to have it all, but that didn’t make her divorce from Bill Gates any less painful.
In an interview with “CBS Mornings” anchor Gayle King that aired Thursday, Gates opened up about splitting from the Microsoft co-founder after 27 years of marriage in the highly-publicized divorce finalized in August 2021.
“It’s really important to say look I had a lot of tears for many days, I mean, days where I’m literally laying on the floor of the carpet, this close to me,” she said holding the palm of her hand to face, “thinking ‘How can this be? How can I get up? How am I going to move forward?’ “
The former computer scientist went on to say that she had days where she “certainly was angry” and that was “part of the grieving process.”
“You’re grieving a loss of something you thought you had and thought you had for your lifetime,” she said in a preview clip of the interview shared Wednesday. “This is painful stuff.”
Bill and Melinda Gates divorce:What they’ve said about their marriage
Melinda French Gates and Bill Gates announced in May 2021 they were ending their marriage. The power couple, who co-chair the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, a global health and development charity, said they would continue to work together at the foundation.
“After a great deal of thought and a lot of work on our relationship, we have made the decision to end our marriage,” they said in a joint statement posted by each on their Twitter feed at the time.
They share three children together: Jennifer, Rory and Phoebe.
Gates’ divorce left us reeling:Why do we care so much?
Weeks after their divorce announcement, a report from The Wall Journal found that board members at Microsoft Corp. made a decision in 2020 that it wasn’t appropriate for Bill Gates to continue sitting on its board as they investigated his prior romantic relationship with a female Microsoft employee that was deemed inappropriate. The outlet claimed that an unnamed spokeswoman for Gates acknowledged that there was an affair almost 20 years ago, and that it ended “amicably.” The spokesperson told The Journal that “his decision to transition off the board was in no way related to this matter.”
King asked Gates about the alleged infidelity and how she handled that.
“Well, I certainly believe in forgiveness, so I thought we had worked through some of that,” she said. “It wasn’t one moment or one specific thing that happened. There just came a point in time where there was enough there that I realized it just wasn’t healthy, and I couldn’t trust what we had.”
King also pressed her on whether her ex-husband’s involvement with disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein also factored in to the divorce. Epstein died from an apparent suicide in 2019 in a Manhattan jail, where he was being held for federal sex trafficking charges.
Gates made it clear that she “did not like” that Bill Gates “had meetings with” Epstein and got a bad feeling about him the one time she met with him.
“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,” Gates said.
In a statement to CBS following the interview, Bill Gates said meeting with Epstein was a “mistake” he “regrets deeply.”
As for the relationship between Melinda Gates and Bill Gates now, the philanthropist says they are “friendly” but she wouldn’t call them “friends.” But as of now, she said they have a great working relationship that will continue that partnership for their foundation.
Still, Gates, 57, told King that she is “turning a page in the chapter now.”
“I mean it’s 2022 and I’m actually really excited about what’s to come and life ahead for me,” she said. That includes building her own company, Pivotal Ventures, which its website describes as “an investment and incubation company” working “to advance social progress in the United States.”
Contributing: Mike Snider and Rasha Ali, USA TODAY; The Associated Press