A new book that details the life and career of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos also discloses the story of his biological father – a man The Washington Post's new owner
has not seen since he was three years old.
"The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon," written by Bloomberg Businessweek senior writer Brad Stone,
comes out for sale on Tuesday. It is an up-close look at what's behind the success of one of the wealthiest men in the world, but also shows his very humble beginnings, a preview in Businessweek reveals.
Until Bezos was three, he lived with his mother and her first husband, Bezos' biological father, Ted Jorgensen. Bezos was later adopted and raised by his mother and her second husband, Miquel Bezos, and has said that the only time he even thinks about Jorgensen is while filling out medical forms asking for his family history.
Though Stone traced Jorgensen to his current home and family, Bezos says that he never met the man who many years ago agreed to give up custody and visitation when his mother moved on with her life.
Jorgensen claimed that he did not know the son he left behind became the founder of one of the most powerful Internet companies in the world.
According to the book, Jorgensen was a circus performer and unicyclist in the 1960s and dated Bezos' mother, Jacklyn Gise, in high school. She became pregnant with Bezos when Jorgensen was a high school senior and she was a sophomore.
Her parents gave them money to fly to Juarez, Mexico, to be married, and they repeated their vows on July 19, 1963 at her house. Bezos was born on Jan. 12, 1964, and given the name Jeffrey Preston Jorgensen.
But Jorgensen could not make much money as a member of a unicycle troupe, the book says, and he had a drinking problem. His wife's father tried to help him by paying college tuition and trying to get him a job with the New Mexico State Police, but Jorgensen was not interested and eventually, his wife moved back home and filed for divorce when Bezos was only 17 months old.
Not long after, Bezos' mother met her second husband, who wanted to adopt the baby. Jorgensen signed over his rights and after a few years forgot the Bezos family's last name.
These days, Jorgensen owns a small bike shop in Glendale, Ariz., which he bought in 1980 after several years of odd jobs and drinking problems. Stone said when he asked the man about Bezos, he didn't know who the Amazon owner was, and was baffled that he was Bezos' biological father.
Although his bike shop is less than 30 miles from four different Amazon fulfillment centers, Jorgensen said he did not make the connection. He said he has always wanted to meet his son again – no matter what he'd ended up doing for a living.
“I wasn’t a good father or a husband,” Jorgensen told Stone. "It was really all my fault."
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