The Untold Truth Of Mark Zuckerberg's Wife Priscilla Chan

Being rich and being famous aren't mutually exclusive, as many actors and people in the entertainment industry are both. However, there are a ton of wealthy people who prefer to keep their lives as private as possible, and that's totally understandable. Take, for instance, Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan.

The two may have an astonishingly high net worth, with a reported $68.2 billion in the bank as of August 2019 thanks to Zuckerberg's lucrative shares in his social media company. For you math majors out there, some income calculators have suggested this means Zuckerberg earns $1,712,328 per hour. And yet, the fabulously rich couple tends to stay away from the public eye. Yes, the founder of Facebook himself, along with his wife, aren't the most social people out there. Chan is her own person, however, and she's extremely accomplished. People are quick to simply lump the two together, as Chan and Zuckerberg's marriage is undoubtedly complex and interesting. But taken solo, Chan has been successful in her own career, not to mention carved a unique path for herself within Zuckerberg's empire. So, what is the untold truth of Priscilla Chan? Quit scrolling your newsfeed for a few minutes and find out.

Priscilla Chan can thank a full bladder for her marriage

Mark Zuckerberg famously went to Harvard University, and even though he didn't graduate from the Ivy League, he did get to meet the love of his life there. Zuckerberg met Priscilla Chan in the line for the bathroom at a frat party (he was an Alpha Epsilon Pi brother) at Harvard in 2003. For Chan, it was an instant connection.

In fact, it was Zuckerberg's innate nerdiness that made him stick out to Chan, who described her husband to The New Yorker as "just a little bit out there." Of their first meeting, Chan recalled, "He had these beer glasses that said 'pound include beer dot H.' It's a tag for C++. It's like college humor but with a nerdy, computer-science appeal." From the first time they met, Chan knew Zuckerberg was smart, and she wasn't put off by that. Whether it's because she was also brilliant, or something else, it's clear that Zuckerberg and Chan have always had their brains in common.

Priscilla Chan's childhood was rough

Though Priscilla Chan is now a successful pediatrician — not to mention married to one of the richest men in the world — that doesn't mean she didn't face her own hardships growing up. Today reported that Chan's "parents left their home country in refugee boats seeking a better future, but not understanding the education system in their new homeland." Because of that, Chan seriously values education.

Chan's grandparents never learned to speak English, so she grew up watching her mom have to "[serve] as interpreter" for them while also "working two jobs" to make ends meet. That formative experience, combined with having teachers that encouraged her and got her "excited about learning," is what led her to pursue higher education, and ultimately Harvard and medical school. As the oldest child of immigrants and the first in her family to go to college, Chan knows a thing or two about what it takes to work hard and pull yourself up. Her childhood may not have been all peachy, but Chan's life has changed dramatically since then, and now, she's able to give back.

She is trilingual

Obviously, Priscilla Chan is brilliant. You don't go to Harvard University and eventually go on to become a practicing physician who also spearheads ambitious research initiatives if you aren't smart. But Chan has more than just book-smarts and an intense knowledge of science going for her. The philanthropist is also fluent in not one, not two, but three languages, which is seriously impressive.

"I grew up speaking Cantonese at home," Chan explained to Today. "English, obviously, from school and growing up here." But what else does Chan speak? Spanish. And she learned Spanish not just for fun, but for an incredible reason: to better help her patients. "You can be a better provider and really connect better with individuals if you can speak their language, and so I started studying Spanish in college, and get lots of practice in my work," she explained. Chan really does have it all — and she knows it all, too.

Priscilla Chan has always wanted to help people

Priscilla Chan may have gone to Harvard, a university famous for producing captains of industry, politicians, and other notable public figures, but her life goal is to help people in any way she can. Perhaps that's why she started the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, an organization she founded with her husband that works on "preventing and eradicating disease, to improving learning experiences for kids, to reforming the criminal justice system," per the CZI website. But having a heart to help others is something Chan has always possessed.

"Giving back has been part of my life before I even met Mark," Chan told Quartz in an interview. She explained that throughout her schooling and career, she "kept seeing problems affecting children, students and adults." So much so, that she felt there was "a fundamental lack of hope." With that in mind, the CZI was born. "So what if we take that lens of a frontline practitioner, if we take the tool set of building technology, what niche might we be able to fill in the world of actually making social impact?" she pondered. For Chan, helping people isn't just another something to add to her resume or make her look good, it's part of who she is.

Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan's romance wasn't exactly cinematic

If you assume Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan have a love story for the ages, you might want to hold off on smashing that love button on their anniversary post. Sure, they seem happy now, but according to author David Kirkpatrick, who detailed the origins of Zuckerberg's social network in his book The Facebook Effect, Chan played it extremely cool in the beginning. 

Speaking with The New York Times, Kirkpatrick said that Chan was never a fangirl of Zuckerberg, as many on the Harvard campus came to be of the coding whiz. And instead of following him off campus to build the site, Chan stayed in school and charted her own path, which eventually led to a job offer that took her away from Silicon Valley and, by extension, Zuckerberg. Since they were 3,000 miles apart, they broke up, during which time "Zuckerberg saw other women, including an undergraduate from the University of California, Berkeley." 

Of course, they eventually got back together, but it wasn't without some drama. In fact, as a source close to Chan told the outlet, "She negotiated the terms of their getting back together, including the possibility of marriage," which Zuckerberg apparently wasn't into at the time. Clearly, Chan changed his mind.

Priscilla Chan is 'pro-hoodie'

One of the most infamous aspects of Mark Zuckerberg is that he seems to always be wearing the same outfit, despite being insanely rich. In many public appearances, speeches, and events, Zuckerberg is seen wearing a hoodie. And while people have criticized him for his sartorial choices, his wife Priscilla Chan will never be one to do so. In fact, she's become something of a hoodie apologist for her hubby, telling Today in 2014 that he's "graduated to a nicer hoodie. ... [one] that's nicer is that it's softer, so he's really excited about that."

"I'm happy with whatever he wants to wear, as long as it's appropriate for where we're going," Chan clarified, adding, "So he can't wear it to weddings. And he can't wear it to baby showers. But he can do whatever else he wants." Chan definitely has more grace than most women, who would be appalled if their husband always wore the same thing. "I'm pro-hoodie," she emphasized. "He wears a fresh hoodie every day so that pretty much meets my lowest barrier for him." Hey, whatever works for her!

Did Priscilla Chan and Mark Zuckerberg have a relationship contract?

When Mark Zuckerberg first got back together with Priscilla Chan, things weren't all peachy-keen. The couple is happily married now, but once upon a time, they had some serious compromises to make. In fact, in order for them to work things out, Chan had one specific stipulation.

In the book, The Facebook Effect, author David Kirkpatrick wrote about how Chan and Zuckerberg allegedly negotiated the terms of their relationship after they got back together and before they got married. "While they wouldn't live together they would spend a minimum of 100 minutes of time alone each week and have at least one date, which would not be either at his apartment or at Facebook," Kirkpatrick wrote. While those claims are yet to be verified, the rumors that the Facebook founder and his wife literally negotiated the terms of their relationship are pretty interesting. It's not exactly common practice to hammer out relationship details in contract form (unless we're talking prenuptial agreements, of course), but apparently it works for Chan and Zuckerberg.

Before the pitter-patter of little feet, there was Beast

Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan became parents in 2016 when they welcomed their daughter Maxima. In August 2019, Maxima got a little sis, named August (not a typo). Before the girls who will one day inherit the fortune that Facebook built came along, there was Beast, the couple's Hungarian sheep dog. The couple was so in love with Beast that they made the pup its own Facebook page, which now that we think about it, was probably just a foregone conclusion.  

Anyway, speaking with Today in 2014, Chan explained how, at the time, Beast was like their child. "He is so talented," Chan said of the pup, adding, "He's so smart. We've been told that he's quite gifted." In the interview, Chan sounded like a proud parent bragging about her child's accomplishments in school. Furthermore, Chan also explained that it was great to watch Zuckerberg doting over Beast, even though she felt like he loved the pooch more than anything. "The dog is his second priority after Facebook," she said. Did that put Chan in third place? Ouch. 

Balancing work and life is important to Priscilla Chan

Despite her vast riches, Priscilla Chan isn't a big spender. In fact, Mark Zuckerberg's wife is super practical when it comes to money. As a source told The New York Times, in 2012, when Chan was out shopping with her sister-in-law, she saw an expensive pair of shoes she admired. Her sister-in-law told her she should just get them since she has money now, but Chan reportedly responded, "It's not my money."

Additionally, when it comes to Chan and Zuckerberg's joint business and philanthropy venture, CZI, Chan has found a way to balance her work and personal life. "It's not a hierarchy," Chan told Quartz of her working relationship with Zuckerberg. "We have to walk the balance of our decisions." Zuckerberg offered some insight in this area in the same interview. "We used to go out to dinner to talk about CZI one night a week, but that felt weird over time, because we also go out on dates." He added, "I just think psychologically, you want to have different places. So now we carve off time, like our one-on-ones." 

Clearly, Chan is practical and level-headed when it comes to just about every aspect of her life. From money to life, to work, Chan knows how to juggle it all, and make it work for her entire family.

Priscilla Chan is emotional but doesn't crack under pressure

Priscilla Chan may be one of the most powerful women in the world, married to one of the most powerful men in the world, but she still has to find her own way to express her emotions. Speaking with Quartz, Chan came right out with it. "I want to tell you upfront: I'm a crier," she said. Additionally one of Chan's colleagues explained that "When she's feeling exhausted or overwhelmed, and sometimes when she's really ecstatic, it's just one of her ways of expressing."

But all that emotion doesn't bring her down when she's working, as Chan is cool as a cucumber in stressful situations. "She was so calm under pressure, really quick thinking," Chan's co-worker Ryan Padrez told Quartz. Even when Chan had to deal with something really stressful or terrible, "she had total capacity to deal with it," he explained.

Is it any wonder then that Chan and Zuckerberg make such a great pair? With Zuckerberg at the helm of his massive, arguably culture-changing social media platform, and Chan smoothly running its philanthropic wing, this pair is a total professional powerhouse. And the fact that they manage to do it all with an eye on a healthy work-life balance? Now, that's something to shed a happy tear over.