Dolly Parton Awarded $100 Million by Jeff Bezos, Lauren Sanchez in Massive Donation to Imagination Library

by Caitlin Berard
(Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

On Friday (November 11), Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and his longtime girlfriend, Lauren Sanchez, revealed the recipient of the 2022 Bezos Courage and Civility Award. According to Sanchez, “the award recognizes leaders who aim high, find solutions, and who always do it with civility. Each awardee receives $100 million to direct to the charities that they see fit.”

Bezos then stepped forward to give a short but heartfelt speech announcing the person who would receive the enormous donation. “The woman you’re about to meet embodies these ideals so thoroughly,” he said. “She gives with her heart. What she’s done for kids, and literacy, and so many other things, is just incredible.”

When Dolly Parton‘s name was called, the entire audience erupted into cheers. Upon taking the stage, Dolly declared that she would do her best to put the money to good use. “WOW! Did you say a hundred million dollars?” Parton said to tumultuous applause. “When people are in a position to help, you should help. And I know that I’ve always said, I try to put my money where my heart is.”

“And I think you do the same thing,” she added, indicating Bezos. “I will do my best to do good things with this money.”

Dolly Parton’s Many Philanthropic Works

In addition to being an icon of country music and pop culture at large, Dolly Parton is a passionate philanthropist who regularly uses her well-earned financial success to the benefit of others.

In 1988, the “Jolene” singer established the Dollywood Foundation, which became The Imagination Library, “a book gifting program which mails high-quality, free books to more than a million children around the world each month,” according to the Foundation’s official website.

An ardent supporter of education, Parton also created the Dolly Parton Scholarship as part of her foundation. Through this program, five high school seniors are awarded $15,000 each year to put toward their college tuition. These scholarships “are for students who have a dream they wish to pursue and who can successfully communicate their plan and commitment to realize their dreams.”

With the $100 million donation from Jeff Bezos, Dolly Parton will no doubt strengthen the reach and impact of the Dollywood Foundation and its many good works. Last year, Parton and the Imagination Library reached the major milestone of their 150 millionth book donation to the world’s youth.

“I am as proud of the Imagination Library as I ever will be, and as anything I ever do for the rest of my life,” Parton explained to PBS last year. “It came to be because of my own father, who couldn’t read and write. When I saw how crippled that made my dad emotionally, I wanted to do something to help him.”

“So I felt like I was bringing honor to my dad,” she continued. “And he got to live long enough to see it doing well and work with me when it was still doing well.”