Bezos, along with his girlfriend Lauren Sánchez, awarded the Courage and Civility Award to the ‘9 to 5’ singer, recognising her long-time philanthropy – especially her work helping improve childhood literacy among children from disadvantaged backgrounds in her home state of Tennessee.
Dolly Parton’s charitable deeds have so far included the funding of more than 193 million books to boost childhood literacy through, in honour of her late father, who never learnt to read.
The singer also donated $10,000 each to 900 families whose homes were damaged or destroyed by fires in the Smoky Mountains in 2016.
Such philanthropic acts are what caught the eye of Bezos – beyond Parton’s 51 Grammy award nominations, her 3,000 songs and the roughly 100 million records she’s sold.
Launched by Bezos last year, the Courage and Civility Award is presented to those who “aim high, pursue solutions with courage and always do so with civility,” the Amazon founder said.
“The woman you’re about to meet embodies these ideals so thoroughly,” he added, referring to Parton. “She gives with her heart. What she’s done for kids, literacy and so many other things is just incredible.”
“Wow, did you say $100 million?” Parton said onstage, upon receiving the award.
Previous recipients of the award have gone to chef José Andrés and the climate advocate Van Jones.
Bezos’ donating of the award comes as he pledges to give away most of his fortune. The current fourth-richest person in the world hasn’t specified exactly how much that will be, or precisely what causes he will give his money to, however.
So far, he has committed $10bn over 10 years to the Bezos Earth Fund, co-chaired by Sánchez, which aims to tackle the climate crisis.
The $100 million received by Parton can be dispersed to whichever charitable causes she best sees fit.