News & Politics

Jeff Bezos Won’t Entirely Rule Out Running for President

The Washington Post owner tells Billboard he has no political ambitions, but he leaves a little daylight on the subject.

Amazon chief executive and Washington Post owner Jeff Bezos almost certainly isn’t running for President, but he doesn’t shut down that possibility completely in a new interview with Billboard.

The interview, which appears as part of the music-industry magazine’s “Power 100” issue—Bezos is No. 12—focuses mostly on Amazon’s Echo platform and expansion into streaming music. But as any post-Donald Trump interview with a famous and enigmatic rich person demands, Billboard asks Bezos if he’s harboring any unrealized political ambitions.

Speaking of homes, you just bought a house in Washington, D.C. Do you have any political ambitions?

Bezos: No. I love my life. I love being an inventor. I love Blue Origin, my space company. I love The Washington Post. They are very good, but the Internet transition was difficult for them — so I’ve been able to help them on that. But basically… I have a very full life. And I really like it.

So we won’t see a President Bezos?

Bezos: Oh, no. I don’t think so.

Bezos makes it fairly clear that he’s content to continue running Amazon, his space-exploration company Blue Origin, and the Post. That “I don’t think so” line leaves the tiniest bit of daylight on his desire to become the second famous-billionaire president.

That doesn’t mean Bezos hasn’t still left plenty of crumbs for the fantasy candidate leagues. Bezos recently bought a 27,000-square-foot residence that will become the biggest single-family home in Washington—the perfect property for someone who wants to pretend he’s not a DC resident. And he’s already got a running feud with Trump, who as a candidate accused Bezos of using the Post as a vehicle for tax write-offs to offset losses at Amazon. (It doesn’t work that way: Amazon is a publicly traded corporation, while the Post is part of Bezos’s personal-investment portfolio Nash Holdings.)

Last May, Bezos told the audience at a Post event that Trump’s behavior was “not appropriate” for a presidential candidate. Most recently, Amazon filed a declaration that it would be harmed by Trump’s executive order blocking immigration from seven majority-Muslim nations as part of Washington State’s lawsuit against the travel ban.

But when Billboard asks Bezos to chime in on Trump’s swearing-in, he clams up and makes a politically astute pivot.

“I feel that this interview is about music,” he tells the magazine.

Still, everything we know about Bezos suggests that he’s way too smart to run for office. Amazon, the United States’ largest retailer, would be instantly politicized and ripe for a partisan boycott. Everything in Bezos’s career points toward building a colossus that spans commerce, computing infrastructure, entertainment, and logistics. Why blow that on something stupid like running for president?

Staff Writer

Benjamin Freed joined Washingtonian in August 2013 and covers politics, business, and media. He was previously the editor of DCist and has also written for Washington City Paper, the New York Times, the New Republic, Slate, and BuzzFeed. He lives in Adams Morgan.