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Billionaire tech founder and philanthropist Bill Gates acknowledged that he made a “huge” mistake in meeting with Jeffrey Epstein, and said he did so “a number of times.”
Gates, the now-divorced father of 3, made the admission during an interview with NBC’s TODAY Show that aired Tuesday morning. When asked about his past meetings with Epstein, a now-deceased convicted sex offender, 66-year-old Gates responded: “I certainly made a huge mistake no only meeting him in the first place, but I met with him a number of times.”
Gates co-founded Microsoft and is reportedly one of the wealthiest men in the world. He and his ex-wife, Melinda French Gates, founded the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, a non-profit that has garnered a nearly $50 billion endowment. Bill Gates said he had met with Epstein in the hopes that the financier would donate toward Gates’ “goal of raising money for global health.”
“I didn’t realize that the meeting with him almost downplayed the incredibly awful things he did,” Gates said. “I’ve learned more about that over time, but I add that to the list of big mistakes.”
In this Feb. 1, 2019, file photo, Bill and Melinda Gates smile at each other during an interview in Kirkland, Wash. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File)
In March, French Gates told CBS she had made it “clear” to Bill that she “did not like that he’d had meetings with Jeffrey Epstein.” She said she also met with the multi-millionaire once, but regretted it.
“I wanted to see who this man was, and I regretted it from the second I stepped in the door,” she told CBS. “He was abhorrent. He was evil personified. I had nightmares about it afterwards. My heart breaks for these young women.”
This March 28, 2017, file photo, provided by the New York State Sex Offender Registry, shows Jeffrey Epstein. (New York State Sex Offender Registry via AP, File)
In response to questions about Melinda’s statements regarding Epstein, Bill Gates said during the interview that he “should have followed [Melinda’s advice] sooner than I did.”
Epstein died at age 66 while awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges. He was found hanged to death inside a Manhattan federal jail cell on August 10, 2019. In 2008, he pleaded guilty to soliciting a prostitute who was a minor.
His girlfriend and associate, Ghislaine Maxwell, was later convicted on charges related to the years-long scheme.