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Under the skin of the glamazon Lauren Sánchez

Lauren Sánchez (ES composite)
Lauren Sánchez (ES composite)

When it was revealed that unassuming tech titan Jeff Bezos was having an affair with a married woman in 2019, there was as much interest in her as there was in their illicit endeavours. Not only was bookish Bezos cheating rather salaciously on his partner of nearly 30 years — the modest, camera-shy philanthropist MacKenzie Scott — but the woman who appeared underneath the headline accusations of “explicit” leaked pictures and cringey sexts couldn’t be more of a contrast. It was Lauren Sánchez, a beaming, Botoxed former Los Angeles news anchor who had a history of dating NFL Hall of Famers and media execs. It wasn’t just an incongruous choice for Bezos, but for Sánchez too.

Little did the world know but Amazon founder Bezos had been making himself into the type of man that Sánchez might like long before their affair was leaked to the press. According to a former colleague, Bezos transformed himself in about 2010. “The man who walked through the door was physically and aesthetically different. He looked like a younger, less nerdy Jeff.”

Jeff Bezos and Lauren Sánchez at the Rings of Power premiere in London, 2022 (PA)
Jeff Bezos and Lauren Sánchez at the Rings of Power premiere in London, 2022 (PA)

Sánchez, 54, and Bezos, 60, were born in the same hospital in Albuquerque, New Mexico, even if it was six years apart. Growing up, Sánchez’s mother worked for the city of Albuquerque and her father owned a pilot school. She initially wanted to be a reporter but had undiagnosed dyslexia. It wasn’t until she enrolled at El Camino College in Los Angeles that Sanchez learned to work around it, with the help of her broadcast journalism professor, Lori Medigovich. “Lauren was memorable because she seemed so driven”, the academic recalled as part of a Vogue profile last year.

As Bezos began his world domination with Amazon in 1994, Sánchez cut her teeth at local news channel, KCOP-TV. By the time he was named as TIME’s Person of the Year, in 1999, she had turned to acting. (She’s the fictional news reporter Jared Leto calls “hot” while watching TV in Fight Club.)

Lauren Sánchez at Jeff Bezos' 60th birthday party last week (Lauren Sánchez / Instagram)
Lauren Sánchez at Jeff Bezos' 60th birthday party last week (Lauren Sánchez / Instagram)

Sánchez did eventually go on to win an Emmy for her reporting work, and later moved into sports journalism, where she met her former partner, NFL player Tony Gonzalez, with whom she shares a son, 22-year-old model Nikko Gonzalez. She also shares a son and a daughter with her ex-husband Patrick Whitesell, whom she cheated on with Bezos. Gonzalez remains part of Sánchez’s starry, wealthy inner circle, which also includes billionaire Fox Broadcasting Company founder Barry Diller and his wife, Belgian fashion designer Diane von Furstenberg.

Kim Kardashian, Jeff Bezos, Lauren Sánchez, Kris Jenner, and Elsa Marie Collins (Getty Images)
Kim Kardashian, Jeff Bezos, Lauren Sánchez, Kris Jenner, and Elsa Marie Collins (Getty Images)

Also from the fashion world is Sarah Staudinger, the 35-year-old founder of the Staud label, and wife of Ari Emanuel, the CEO of Endeavor (the media agency that owns the Ultimate Fighting Championship and WWE). Then there are the A-listers. Sánchez shares clothes with Kim Kardashian and she and Bezos go on double dates with Kris Jenner and her partner Corey Gamble.

Bezos and Sánchez aboard Koru, Bezos' super yacht (INSTAGRAM)
Bezos and Sánchez aboard Koru, Bezos' super yacht (INSTAGRAM)

At their engagement party this summer, Leonardo DiCaprio, Tobey Maguire, Bill Gates and Queen Rania of Jordan, boarded Bezos’ 417-foot, $500 million mega-yacht near Positano to party with the happy couple.

Most recently, she’s been seen rubbing shoulders with Prince Harry at the Living Legends of Aviation Awards last week, where she won the Elling Halvorson award for her expertise as a helicopter pilot.

Prince Harry, John Travolta, Lauren Sánchez and Jeff Bezos at the Living Legends of Aviation Awards (Lauren Sánchez / Instagram)
Prince Harry, John Travolta, Lauren Sánchez and Jeff Bezos at the Living Legends of Aviation Awards (Lauren Sánchez / Instagram)

Sánchez and Bezos share an obsession with flight, whether its terrestrial or extraterrestrial. In 2011, Sánchez followed in her father’s footsteps and gained her fixed-wing pilot’s licence. By 2016, she had swapped journalism for full-time flight, and founded Black Ops Aviation, the first female-owned aerial film and production company, which consulted on both Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk and the Amazon series Jack Ryan. “I loved entertainment and I loved filming, and so I got to combine all of it.” The couple’s obsession with flight was even reflected at Bezos’s recent 60th birthday party. Sánchez’s female friends all carried rocket-shaped Judith Leiber handbags. The couple are also known for saying “Love you to space and back.”

Sánchez is a qualified helicopter piltot (@laurenwsanchez/Instagram)
Sánchez is a qualified helicopter piltot (@laurenwsanchez/Instagram)

The Sánchez-Bezos gang and their families often spend time at various Bezos-owned properties across the United States. And as the 25th biggest landowner with 420,000 acres at his disposal, there’s plenty to choose from. Miami is the latest favourite though, which Bezos choosing to leave his beloved Seattle — where Amazon is based — to be nearer his Blue Origin space facility in Cape Canaveral. He and Sánchez are now living between two properties — $79 and $68 million respectively — in Indian Creek village, an island off Miami known by locals as the “Billionaire Bunker”. And of course, there’s the Texas ranch and the mega-yacht, which is so large it includes a helipad. It’s this shared love of helicopters that is said to have brought the couple together. But after high winds caused Bezos to suffer a helicopter crash back in 2003, he had developed a hatred for them. Then, in 2018, Bezos started taking helicopter flights again.

“It was another unfathomable shift to contemplate because as they all knew, Jeff Bezos hated helicopters,” Brad Stone writes in Amazon Unbound: Jeff Bezos and the Invention of a Global Empire. This shift was confirmed in Sánchez’s Wall Street Journal interview, which says Bezos “credits Sánchez with getting him comfortable in the air again.”

Sánchez and Bezos pose with a Blue Origin rocket (@laurenwsanchez/Instagram)
Sánchez and Bezos pose with a Blue Origin rocket (@laurenwsanchez/Instagram)

Despite the aeronautical clues, the affair still came as a shock to many. “I blurted out ‘Jesus Christ’ when I first saw and learned of Lauren Sánchez”, said the anonymous former colleague of Bezos. “Then my eye went to Jeff beside her, bulging in a tacky shirt with a new jawline. The nerd I knew felt like a figment of my imagination.”

That former nerd is now attending Beyoncé gigs (with the Kardashian klan in tow) and partying with Robert Pattinson, Suki Waterhouse, Oprah Winfrey and Jay Z, all of whom were at his 60th birthday party — and will surely be on the guest list for his and Sánchez’s wedding later this year. Sanchez’s 20 to 30 carat pink diamond ring alone is worth upwards of $2.5 million. According to Sanchez, plans for the nuptials are still up in the air. “We’re still thinking about the wedding,” she said in her Vogue profile last November. “What it’s going to be. Is it going to be big? Is it going to be overseas? We don’t know yet.” One thing’s for sure though — she’s ready to become a Bezos. “Uh, yes, 100 per cent. I am looking forward to being Mrs  Bezos,” she told Vogue.

With Sánchez set for space travel in the upcoming months, the pair seem blissfully happy. Just as they conquered the skies in the early days of their love affair, for marriage, they’re turning their attention to space: even billionaire couples need a shared hobby.