With Jeff Bezos impending divorce I thought it would be worth reposting this short piece I wrote for SwiftEconomics on a variety of famous divorce "settlements." Bezos infidelity may cost him a cool $69 billion! Oops. And yes, our divorce courts in the United States are a joke. And yes, these "alpha males" who couldn't stay monogamous if their life (and certainly most of their wealth) depended on it, should not be getting married.)
I’m not one for celebrity gossip; I find it to be a futile exercise in time-wasting, mind-numbing, soul-destroying, culture-wrecking stupidity. But I have to make an exception with a couple of recent celebrity divorce settlements that simply boggle the mind.
The first is Tiger Woods. Yeah, apparently 15 prostitutes is just a wee bit too much indiscretion for those good old marital vows to take, so his wife, Elin Nordegren, divorced him. I have no idea what goes on in these settlement hearings (nor do I want to) or how they come up with what appears to be an arbitrary (but ridiculously huge) number. This settlement cost Tiger over $750 million! Some of that sum was to buy Elin’s silence. The settlement prevents Elin from ever discussing Tiger’s infidelity in public (no book deal), but it also has a strange clause that bans Tiger from even introducing his kids to a new girlfriend; he has to marry her before they can meet. Given Tiger’s propensity for infidelity, doing that could cost him another $750 million.
Then there’s Michael Douglas, whose marriage with Diandra Douglas actually ended 10 years ago and cost him a cool $45 million. Well she’s suing him again. See, Michael Douglas is coming out with the sequel to Wall Street called Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps (I kid you not) and there is a clause in the original divorce settlement that allows Diandra to receive residuals for any “spin offs” of movies Michael Douglas did while they were together. Does reprising the role of Gordon Gecko count as a spin off? I don’t know, but isn’t $45 million enough?
t’s almost like the court just takes a cut as if they were the house at a card game; so the bigger the number the better. There’s Paul McCartney’s $235 million nightmare of a divorce. Or you can scan through this list from Michael Jordan’s $168 million settlement to Mick Jagger’s $25 million settlement. From time to time it goes the other way, Guy Ritchie managed to snatch $75 million from Madonna when they split even though he was already a successful movie director.
But the trend typically involves some high status male who gets caught cheating and then forks over some obscene amount of money in divorce. Tiger Woods is simply the most obvious example and I should also note that Michael Douglas’ ex accused him of having an affair. Or hell, just think of the Democratic leadership of recent decades: Bill Clinton, John Edwards, and now Al Gore. Al Gore is way beyond infidelity. He’s [was] facing sex abuse charges, which is probably the fault of global warming… he couldn’t control himself, it was just too damn hot.
The thing is, these guys are alpha males. No doubt about it. Alpha males may be extremely talented (Woods), extremely charismatic (Clinton) or just a huge douchebag that is famous for some reason (Gore), but they do typically have some traits in common. First and foremost, fidelity is not something they’re particularly good at.
It’s not really their fault, well it is, but monogamy is kinda going against their nature. As Alan Miller and Satoshi Kanzawa at Psychology Today put it:
…powerful men of high status throughout human history attained very high reproductive success, leaving a large number of offspring (legitimate and otherwise), while countless poor men died mateless and childless… Men strive to attain political power, consciously or unconsciously, in order to have reproductive access to a larger number of women.
So let me offer some unsolicited advice. Ladies, if you want your husband to remain faithful, DO NOT MARRY AN ALPHA MALE! And alpha males, if you like NOT paying out multi-million dollar divorce settlements, DO NOT GET MARRIED! You’re going to cheat, because that’s what you do, and in all likelihood, you’ll eventually get caught. At which point an alpha male and his money are soon parted.
"Every day is a new life to the wise man."
The Righteous Mind
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