Are George Strait and Jeff Bezos really cousins? And if so, how come neither the country star nor the Amazon founder has talked about one another publicly?
It’s a complicated exploration in genealogy, but the summary is simple.
News that Bezos and Strait are related traces back a few years, to a Dallas Morning News article that nonchalantly describes them as “cousins.” In 2019, the Houston Chronicle goes deeper explaining that Bezos’ maternal grandmother is Strait’s cousin. That’s not quite true either, but it’s closer.
We did some digging at Find a Grave (owned by Ancestry.com) to get to the heart of the matter and learned that Strait and Bezos’ mother, Jacklyn Gise, are second cousins, making Strait’s son, Bubba, third cousins to Jeff Bezos. If there is a term for how Strait and Bezos are directly related, it’s not clear — perhaps cousins twice removed?
A neat and tidy (if amateurish) graphic below explains it all, but the synopsis is that Strait’s great-grandfather John Joseph Strait bore sons John Samuel (Strait’s grandfather) and Yancey Clarance (plus four other children, per Find a Grave). John Samuel would father John Byron, who is George Strait’s dad.
Yancey Clarence would father a daughter named Mattie Strait, who would marry Lawrence Preston Gise and give birth to Jacklyn Gise, who gave birth to Jeff. Jeff was actually born Jeffrey Preston Jorgensen (per CNBC), but his father was a deadbeat dad and his mother (who became pregnant at age 16) remarried Miguel Bezos in 1968. Bezos then adopted Jeffrey when the boy was four years old.
While it’s tempting to believe some sort of family rift separates Strait from Bezos, a more likely explanation is the relationship is just too loose to foster. Think about it: How well do you know grandpa’s brother’s kids, let alone your grandpa’s brother’s great-grandchildren?
Strait and Bezos are “cousins” in the mostly loosely defined ways — the Country Music Hall of Famer may be fewer degrees of separation away from Kevin Bacon than the richest man on the planet, but that’s a study for another day.
One last thought about the legitimacy of Find a Grave as a research tool: A long, but detailed exploration at Medium shows the site is a sort of Wikipedia for the dead. It’s user-generated, but those who participate are very dedicated and thorough. There are fewer checks and balances than at Wikipedia (the days of Wiki being embarrassingly unreliable are long gone), but the community nature of it all means that you can likely count on the broad strokes details in this case. Being owned by Ancestry.com also gives the site some legitimacy, but Ancestry does make mention that they claim no legal responsibility for the accuracy.
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