Michael Bloomberg to give away $1 million Genesis Prize

Former Mayor of New York and billionaire businessman Michael Bloomberg (Photo: Rubenstein)

Former Mayor of New York and billionaire businessman Michael Bloomberg (Photo: Rubenstein)

Billionaire businessman Michael Bloomberg has announced that he will give away the $1 million (£590,000) he received in prize money for the Genesis Award presented to him by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Israel.

Shortly after receiving the award, the three-time former Mayor of New York pledged that the money would be used for a new global entrepreneurship competition.

The contest will be made-up of 10 prizes worth $100,000 for young entrepreneurs aged 20-36 with a particular emphasis on big ideas based on Jewish values.

Mr Bloomberg, who is an enthusiastic supporter of Israel and has donated millions to the country’s medical institutions over the years, said he wanted to “pay forward” the Genesis prize, which has been billed as the “Jewish Nobel”.

Comedian and broadcaster Jay Leno, the host of the event joked: “Shows what I know. I thought the Nobel Prize was the Jewish Nobel Prize. Does anybody else ever win this thing?”

On presenting the award, Prime Minister Netanyahu said: “The Genesis Prize is awarded to an exceptional person who embodies the Jewish tradition and Jewish values. Our most important tradition is that we cherish our heritage but always strive for new things.”

“We have achieved extraordinary things in 66 years and impressed the world. We achieve these things, because we are rooted in our traditions yet in the same time touch the future – in technology, science, and breakthrough innovation.”

The prize ceremony in Jerusalem also included performances by Israeli-Iranian singer, Rita and Grammy award winning pianist Evgeny Kissin.

Before entering politics, Mr Bloomberg set-up the hugely successful Bloomberg financial media company in the US. But the billionaire strongly denied any interest in getting involved in the newspaper business in Israel.

In response to a question from the New York Times, he said: "What letter in the word ‘no’ do you not understand?"

Last updated: 1:41pm, May 23 2014