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Jeff Bezos along with his brother Mark Bezos, 18-year-old Oliver Daemen, and 82-year-old Wally Funk leave Blue Originâs New Shepard crew capsule after landing on July 20, 2021. Photo: Blue Origin/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Jeff Bezos awarded CNN commentator Van Jones and chef José Andrés $100 million each on Tuesday as part of a new initiative called the "courage and civility award."

Driving the news: Jones and Andrés will be able to give the award money to a charity of their choice, Bezos said during a press conference to commemorate Blue Origin's trip to space. The Amazon founder suggested he could hand out more awards in the future.

  • "It's easy to be courageous, but also mean. Try being courageous and civil. Try being courageous and a unifier. That's harder and way better [and] it makes the world better," Bezos said while announcing the award.

Catch up quick: Jones is a CNN commentator and criminal justice system reform advocate. Andrés, a celebrated chef, is the founder of World Central Kitchen.

What they're saying: "You take people on frontlines and their wisdom and their genius and their creativity, and you give them a shot," Jones said.

  • "They're not just gonna turn around neighborhoods, they're gonna turn around in this nation. That's what's going to happen, and I appreciate you for lifting the ceiling off of people's dreams."
  • "This award itself cannot feed the world on its own. But this is the start of a new chapter for us," Andrés said.

Editor’s note: This post has been updated to correct a quote by Jose Andrés.

Go deeper

Jul 20, 2021 - Science

Bezos says space flight reinforced commitment to fighting climate change

Jeff Bezos said in an interview hours after flying to suborbital space on Tuesday that there are "no words" to adequately describe the experience, but that it reinforced his commitment to combatting climate change and keeping Earth "as this beautiful gem of a planet that it is."

Why it matters: Bezos, the world's richest man, said he plans to make Blue Origin and the Bezos Earth Fund — a $10 billion effort to fight climate change — his life focus moving forward.

What Jeff Bezos and his crew brought to space

Jeff Bezos and his brother Mark brought three aviation-related tokens with them as they flew with two other passengers to suborbital space on Tuesday morning, they revealed at a post-flight press conference:

  • A piece of canvas from the 1903 Wright Flyer, the world's first heavier-than-air flying machine.
  • A bronze medallion made from the first hot air balloon flight in 1783, the first time man flew on a controlled flight.
  • The goggles that Amelia Earhart flew solo across the Atlantic Ocean with in 1932.
Miriam Kramer, author of Space
Jul 20, 2021 - Science

New wrinkle for space tourism: Deciding who counts as an astronaut

Illustration: Megan Robinson/Axios

Jeff Bezos is going to space today, but whether that makes him an astronaut is open to interpretation.

Why it matters: Bezos and his billionaire rival Richard Branson are hoping to lure wealthy customers into space tourism, in part, with the promise of becoming astronauts — but the definition of who is considered an astronaut isn't clear-cut.