Jeff Bezos' Mom Was A Single Teen Who Took Him To Night School With Her As An Infant — She Made $190 A Month And Now She's Worth $30 Billion

The tale of Jeff Bezos, who started Amazon from his garage, is legendary, but the story of his mother, Jacklyn Bezos, is equally compelling. Jacklyn, a determined teenager in Albuquerque, New Mexico, overcame substantial obstacles. She faced financial hardship and societal pressures as a single teen mother, yet she managed to raise her son, who would become one of the world's richest individuals with a net worth of $205 billion, according to Forbes.

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While still in high school at 17, Jacklyn became pregnant and met with severe resistance from school administrators. They initially forbade her from continuing her education. Undeterred, Jacklyn challenged their decision, asserting, "It didn't make any sense to me, so I pushed back and I kept on pushing back." Ultimately, the school relented under her persistence, though they imposed strict conditions on her return, such as restricted interaction with peers and tightly controlled entry and exit times. 

Despite these hurdles, Jacklyn persevered, graduating from high school and shortly after divorcing Bezos’s biological father, Ted Jorgensen. She supported herself and her son by working as a secretary, earning a modest $190 per month, which barely covered their expenses. To stay connected with her parents without the cost of a telephone, Jacklyn’s father set up a walkie-talkie system for daily check-ins.

Driven to further her education, Jacklyn enrolled in night school, strategically choosing classes that allowed her to bring her infant son, Jeff, along. "I would show up with an infant and two duffel bags," she said. One was filled with textbooks and baby supplies, the other with distractions for her son during class.

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It was during these night classes that she met Mike Bezos, a Cuban refugee, who would later become Jeff’s stepfather and a significant figure in his life. The family relocated for Mike’s job, which delayed Jacklyn’s educational ambitions for years. Nonetheless, she returned to college as an adult, ultimately graduating from the College of Saint Elizabeth at age 40. "When I graduated…I had never been more proud of myself. I felt 10 feet tall," she expressed.

According to a 1997 SEC filing, Jackie and her husband, Mike Bezos, invested $245,573 in Amazon. As the company grew into a global powerhouse, the initial investment ballooned to an estimated $958 billion. While they donated a significant portion of their shares to educational causes, Bloomberg estimates that their remaining holdings could be worth around $30 billion today.

The Bezos family story is not just a testament to overcoming adversity, but also a shining example of the profound impact parental support can have on a child’s trajectory. Jacklyn’s unwavering belief in her son, coupled with her willingness to take risks, transformed challenges into a legacy of success.

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Disclosure: This story was previously published on Benzinga and has been updated.

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