After 27 years of marriage, Bill and Melinda Gates announced on Twitter that they would be divorcing, though they would continue running their charitable foundation together. “After a great deal of thought and a lot of work on our relationship, we have made the decision to end our marriage,” they said in their statement before requesting “space and privacy” for their family.
Naturally, absolutely no one on social media respected the Gateses’ wishes, with many joking about the two having a slutty vaxx summer and sliding into Melinda Gates’ DMs to reap part of her estimated $70 billion fortune. But arguably the group that was most invigorated by the news was believers in QAnon, the baseless conspiracy theory centered on Donald Trump, which postulates the existence of a secret underground child trafficking ring run by society’s elites.
On the Great Awakening, a message board exclusively for far-right conspiracy theorists, believers in QAnon are trading their own interpretations of why the couple may have gotten divorced. “It’s obvious as shit that this is to protect the money for when Bill Gates gets arrested,” one person wrote, alluding to the moment when QAnon believers participants in the trafficking ring will all be rounded up and taken to prison, or possibly a false claim alleging Gates was under investigation in India for illegally testing vaccines on children. Others commented that the divorce was a cover-up for the real truth that the Gateses were already dead, a longstanding canard within the QAnon community. The Gates news was posted on the message board so many times that one user commented, “Are you guys going for a record of how many times the same story should be posted?,” while another wrote, “FOR THE LOVE OF GOD – STOP POSTING ABOUT THE GATES DIVORCE.”
The Microsoft cofounder has been a lightning rod within the QAnon and anti-vaccine communities for some time now, starting with a baseless theory that spread last year that he had created the Covid-19 virus so he could profit off a vaccine and create a pretense to inject the population with a tracking microchip. Gates, who through his foundation has committed $1.75 billion to fighting the pandemic, has commented on the proliferation of such conspiracy theories, calling them “crazy” and “evil.” “Nobody would have predicted that I and Dr. [Anthony] Fauci would be so prominent in these really evil theories,” Gates told Reuters. “I’m very surprised by that. I hope it goes away.” (Coincidentally, Fauci has also been implicated in the conspiracy theories surrounding Gates’s divorce, with QAnon supporters on Telegram making memes suggesting Melinda Gates was leaving her husband for Fauci.)
In the wake of Trump’s defeat in the November 2020 election, and with the anonymous poster or posters behind Q long silent, members of the QAnon community have been struggling to make sense of a post-Trump presidency world. Many have retained hope that Trump will ultimately be restored to power, and have peddled baseless conspiracy theories supporting this, ranging from an elaborate theory centered around Trump returning to the presidency on March 4th (which obviously didn’t happen) to focusing on the outcome of an audit of the presidential election results in Maricopa County, Arizona. But for many true believers, the latest news of the Gates divorce has clearly provided a welcome distraction.