Apple CEO Tim Cook — who is worth nearly $800 million — calls being gay the best thing that ever happened to him.

“I’m very proud of it,” he told CNN. Cook called his sexual orientation “God’s greatest gift to me.”

Following much speculation, Cook, 57, divulged he was homosexual four years ago. The tech innovator was motivated to come out by emails and letter from kids who were struggling with being gay and wanted to know if he identified with them.

It made him feel “selfish” to remain private about his life while people in less fortunate positions needed support. His message to those kids is that being gay shouldn’t stop them from getting “some big jobs in life.”

Cook is thought to be the first openly gay CEO of a Fortune 500 company. He credits that experience for helping him understand how people think.

“The feeling of being in a minority gives you a level of empathy for other people who are not in the majority,” he said.

Cook, a notoriously private person, made headlines this week at the International Conference of Data Protection and Privacy Commissioners, where he challenged American companies to follow Apple’s lead by protecting their costumers’ personal data.

“We shouldn’t sugarcoat the consequences,” he said, seeming to implicate Google and Facebook without mentioning them by name. “This is surveillance.”

Cook was born in highly conservative Mobile, Ala. A 2017 Public Religion Research Institute poll found Alabama to be the only state in the U.S. where same sex marriage is opposed by the majority of the population.

He attended Auburn University before finally leaving Alabama to attend grad school at Duke University in North Carolina. In 2011, Cook became Apple’s CEO.

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