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Dolly Parton receives $100M award from Jeff Bezos: ‘She gives with her heart’

"What she’s done for kids, literacy and so many other things is just incredible," the Amazon founder said of the country music icon and philanthropist.
/ Source: TODAY

Dolly Parton is getting recognized for the work beyond her "9 to 5" of being the queen of country music.

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and his partner, Lauren Sanchez, awarded the country music star and philanthropist with $100 million on Nov. 12 as part of the Bezos Courage and Civility Award.

The award recognizes "leaders who aim high, find solutions and who always do it with civility," Sanchez said. She added the awardees can direct the $100 million to the charities that they see fit.

"The woman you’re about to meet embodies these ideals so thoroughly. She gives with her heart. What she’s done for kids, literacy and so many other things is just incredible," Bezos said before presenting Parton with the award.

"Wow, did you say a $100 million?" Parton, 76, asked after Bezos announced her as the 2022 recipient. "When people are in a position to help, you should help, and I know that I’ve always said I try to put my money where my heart is."

The "Jolene" singer added in a tweet that she will "do my best to do good things with this money."

Parton hasn't announced what she will do with the prize, but she has many philanthropic projects of her own. In 2020, she donated $1 million to Vanderbilt University, which partially funded the development of Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine.

"I'm just happy that anything I do can help somebody else, and when I donated the money to the COVID fund, I just wanted it to do good," she told TODAY in 2020. "Evidently, it is. Let’s just hope we find a cure real soon."

She also became one of the first celebrities to get the vaccine in March 2021, tweeting a video of her receiving the shot with the caption, "Dolly gets a taste of her own medicine."

Beyond her COVID-19 efforts, Parton's Dollywood Foundation donated $1,000 per month to families impacted by wildfires in Tennessee in 2016, and those payments continued for six months. And in 1995, she founded Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, a literacy program that’s donated more than 150 million children’s books.

And Bezos' award isn't the only award she's received this year. Parton was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame earlier this month, even after she tried to turn down the nomination because she felt she wasn't "worthy" of the honor.

Parton later told NPR she would accept the nomination after all, once she found out it wasn't exclusively for rock stars.

"I just felt like I would be taking away from someone that maybe deserved it, certainly more than me, because I never considered myself a rock artist," she said. "But obviously, there’s more to it than that."