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Eva Longoria and Admiral Bill McRaven to receive $100 million Bezos Award

New York CNN  —  Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and his fiancée Lauren Sánchez are awarding $50 million each to Bill McRaven, a retired Navy admiral and former chancellor of the University of Texas System, and actor and entrepreneur Eva Longoria as part of Bezos’ annual prize to individuals who make significant contributions to society. The annual Bezos Courage and Civility Award has been handed out since 2021 and is given to people who try to find solutions to complicated problems, attempt to be uniters and embrace civility. The Amazon founder is the second richest person on the planet, behind only LVMH boss Bernard Arnault, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, and his fortune totals about $200 billion. In 2021, the inaugural recipients of the prize were Van Jones, a lawyer and CNN commentator, and chef José Andrés, each of whom received $100 million. Entertainer and philanthropist Dolly Parton was the 2022 recipient; there was no 2023 award. In a statement, McRaven said he wants to use the gift to focus on three areas: educating the children of deceased veterans, particularly in the special operations community; the mental health and brain performance of veterans; and helping to develop future military leaders through education. McRaven and his wife are on the board of the Special Operations Warrior Foundation. They also serve as national spokespeople for the Brain Health Project, which focuses on brain health and brain performance with a concentration on veterans. “The opportunity to use this incredible gift to help veterans and their families is the dream of a lifetime and I am so grateful to Lauren and Jeff for giving me this opportunity,” McRaven said in a statement to CNN. Longoria, who starred in the television series “Desperate Housewives,” has focused on education and entrepreneurship in Latino communities. The Eva Longoria Foundation aims to connect Latinos and Latinas in lower-income areas with peer mentors, and Longoria has a start-up fund for Latino-owned small businesses. “Of course, I am honored and thrilled personally, but I am even more excited about the impact I think we can have on this country through/by investing in the strength of the Latino community,” Longoria told CNN. “Latinos in the US are a rapidly growing group with extraordinary potential, but we disproportionately lack the infrastructure opportunity we need and I’m excited to invest in that opportunity.” In 2022, Bezos told CNN he plans to give away the majority of his wealth during his lifetime, focusing on climate change and supporting people who can unify humanity. However, neither Bezos nor Sánchez have signed the Giving Pledge, a commitment by the world’s richest people to give away the majority of their wealth to charitable causes. The pledge was created by Warren Buffett, Melinda French Gates and Bill Gates, and among the signers is MacKenzie Scott, who helped build tech giant Amazon with her then-husband Bezos, and who has given away billions of her fortune. Bezos and Sánchez pledged $100 million to recovery efforts in Maui after the devastating wildfires in 2023, though the donation has come under scrutiny. Bezos has also given away hundreds of millions of dollars to dozens of recipients through his Day 1 Families Fund initiative, which he launched in 2018, including a $2 billion commitment to combat homelessness and start preschools.