Jeff Bezos may be the richest man in the world today, but obviously, he did not start off that way. In his opening testimony in front of the House judiciary subcommittee on antitrust, Bezos revealed his humble beginnings, telling the world that he owes his monetary wealth in large part to his supportive family.
Before he could amass the wealth he has now, he had a different kind of wealth: “the wealth of a loving family, a family that fostered my curiosity and encouraged me to dream big.” In the testimony, Bezos talks about his mother, Jackie, who had him when she was a 17-year-old high school student in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The school tried to kick her out, but they were stopped by his grandfather, who negotiated a deal with the principal. She graduated, but it was not without challenges, as she was stripped of her privilege to use a locker, join extracurriculars, and walk across the stage with the rest of her class at graduation.
Life tried to kick Bezos’s mother down, but she persevered. Even though she could have called it quits, she was determined to continue her education. So she enrolled in night school, bringing her infant son with her all throughout.
Bezos then talked about his father, Miguel, who adopted him when he was 4 years old. His father flew straight out of Cuba, alone, not knowing any English, and only really getting by through grit and self-determination. He eventually received a scholarship to Albuquerque, where he met Bezos’s mother, and the rest, as they say, is history.
These two hardworking, resourceful, and loving individuals, with Bezos’s grandparents, made him who he is today. It was with their blessing and help that he built Amazon from the ground up, starting with quitting his safe and steady job on Wall Street and moving into a Seattle garage. He even fondly recalls driving packages to the post offices himself, dreaming of one day affording a forklift.
He started from the garage, not knowing if his venture was even going to take off, and now he stands as the richest man in the world, with Amazon hitting heights never imagined before.
At the end of his opening speech, Bezos emphasized how great of a country the USA is. Bezos explains, “We’re in the middle of a much needed race reckoning. We also face the challenges of climate change and income inequality, and we’re stumbling through the crisis of a global pandemic. Still with all of our faults and problems, the rest of the world would love even the tiniest sip of the elixir we have here in the US.”
He talked about immigrants, like his father, who come to America in search of a better life for themselves. Immigrants often come to America at great costs, leaving behind their homeland, their family, their entire lives. But they know that it’ll be worth it once they get a chance to chase the American dream, the same dream that Jeff Bezos has aspired to his whole life and which he has achieved tenfold.