Jeff Bezos’ Biological Father Didn’t Know His Son Was a Billionaire

The 69-year-old man had no idea who his son was when the Amazon CEO’s biographer found him at an Arizona bike shop

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Andrew Kelly / Reuters

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos at a New York charity benefit in May 2012

The long-lost biological father of Jeff Bezos only learned his son was the billionaire CEO of one of the world’s most successful companies when Bezos’ biographer tracked the man down in late 2012 at the Arizona bike shop he owns.

In an excerpt from his new book “The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon,” a history of the retailer Amazon and its notoriously brilliant and mercurial CEO, Brad Stone writes of how he found Ted Jorgensen, the man who abandoned Bezos and the boy’s mother decades ago. The last time Jorgensen saw his son the boy was three years old.

“’Your son is one of the most successful men on the planet,’ I told him,” Stone writes. “I showed him some Internet photographs on my smartphone , and for the first time in 45 years, Jorgensen saw his biological son. His eyes filled with sorrow and disbelief.”

Jorgensen was a hard-drinking 18-year-old circus performer when he married Bezos’ then 16-year-old mother. Jorgensen couldn’t hold down a job and dropped out of school and the marriage quickly fell apart. The mother remarried and made Jorgensen promise to stay out of the family’s life forever. He did.

Stone writes that Jorgensen seems ashamed that he agreed to stay out of his life all those years ago. “I wasn’t a good father or a husband,” he said. “It was really all my fault.”

Bezos, 49, lives in Seattle, Washington and is worth $27.2 billion today. He’s ranked by Forbes as the 19th richest person on the planet. Bezos did not grant an interview to Stone for the book.

[Businessweek]

13 comments
MichaelWhitehead
MichaelWhitehead

There are circumstances when a biological father can't be a 'father' to his child.  I was engaged to my daughter's mother when she was 16.  Shortly after she became pregnant, we broke up, due to my family's circumstances.  I offered support and wanted to be involved, but the only thing she wanted was to raise the child on her own.  She made me promise to stay away.  I kept my promise to her, which caused me pain every day for many years.  I finally met my daughter when she was 30 years old, as well as two granddaughters I never knew I had.  We spent an enjoyable two weeks together.  So, there are times and circumstances where the biological dad is not the real dad, through no fault of his own.

tdavis001
tdavis001

The most interesting thing about this article is what wasn't talked about. It shows the difference a loving father makes, and that being a loving father isn't about biology. Both Bezos and Jobs had great things to say about their real dads. They saw their real fathers as the people who were there for them, and who loved them like fathers , and taught them what they needed to know to move forward.

Where there is love, courage, and wisdom poured into a child's life that child will make it. 


I see this as a celebration of "Step" and adoptive parents. 


May God bless those who give their love, their time, and their energy to be true fathers.




RosaHines12
RosaHines12

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spamjoes
spamjoes

I feel bad for Jeff.  Those type of things tend to hit you in the gut when you think about them... all you can do it try to hide them, you never truly get past it.

SteveMcEntee
SteveMcEntee

So, the definition of success ("...one of the most successful men on the planet.") is premised on being in possession of billions of US dollars. Guess that means I'm going to have to discard my readings of over 2,000 yrs of humanity and redefine how I perceive 'success'.

DougR
DougR

I hope Jeff does the right thing and goes and sees him and maybe does something to honor him.

prismus
prismus

the guy must be banging his head against the wall!


spamjoes
spamjoes

@SteveMcEntee   Financial success, yes.  Since we're a capitalistic society, that tends to be the presumption whenever "success" is mentioned.  Yes, there are different types of success, but you're naive to pretend that the two aren't closely tied in American society.

blahblahblahtime
blahblahblahtime

@DougR Honor the deadbeat drunk that ran out on him and his mother?  Maybe leave him a bottle of Smirnoff.

MichaelWhitehead
MichaelWhitehead

@prismus You are thinking, IMO, in terms of the potential financial gain, or rather, the loss of that potential gain.  He might indeed be banging his head against a wall, but, I think, for deeper, more heart wrenching reasons

Hibernia86
Hibernia86

@blahblahblahtime @DougR Except for the fact that it was the mother who told him to leave. Yes he should have insisted on court ordered visitations, but it is difficult when the mother of the child is so forceful on keeping him from seeing his child.

writingspot
writingspot

@blahblahblahtime @DougR Life is not black and white. Who are we to judge someone else's decision or life?  Why shouldn't he?  Still, father is a father.  Without him, you don't exist.