Microsoft cofounder Bill Gates had an affair — and the now-deceased sex criminal Jeffrey Epstein, who knew all about it, allegedly used it as leverage.

As the Wall Street Journal reports based on conversations with anonymous sources familiar with the matter, Epstein purportedly learned that Gates had been in an extramarital affair with a Russian bridge player, and used it to "threaten" him, in the words of a Gates spokesperson.

Gates, the report claims, met bridge player Mila Antonova around the year 2010, when she was in her 20s; a few years later in 2013, she met Epstein, who went on at some point to pay for her to attend software coding school.

In 2017, according to the timeline established by the WSJ, Epstein emailed the Microsoft founder asking to be reimbursed for the course. While the exact figure was not disclosed, these sorts of classes can cost upwards of $15,000. According to his spokespeople, Gates did not send Epstein money for the course or for anything else.

While that type of price tag would set a regular person back, the WSJ notes that given the massive wealth of the people involved, the price tag was beside the point. The implication, per the people with knowledge of the exchange, was that Gates would have been paying for Gates' silence about the affair with Antonova.

It's long been known that Gates and Epstein were close after Epstein's initial conviction, a relationship that raised eyebrows after the disgraced financier's death in 2019 as the legal walls closed in.

When contacted by the WSJ about the allegations, the Russian bridge player didn't comment on Gates but confirmed that she'd met Epstein, saying that at the time she "had no idea that he was a criminal or had any ulterior motive" and that she's now "disgusted with Epstein and what he did."

Though the exact details or timeline of Antonova and Gates' alleged relationship are unclear, it appears they met because of bridge, a card game the Microsoft founder is said to enjoy.

Around when it seems she met Gates, Antonova — who also was a Bay Area software engineer, per her LinkedIn — discussed meeting the tech billionaire at a bridge tournament during a TED-esque talk at a convention in New York City.

The bridge player, who was said to be attempting to start an online course company for bridge akin to the kinds of classes and others run, was reportedly introduced to Epstein by Gates' adviser Boris Nikolic while she was working on that ultimately-failed endeavor

Nikolic was later embroiled with Epstein when the billionaire sex criminal named Gates' confidante as a backup executor, which he said surprised him and he ultimately declined. (He was so distressed when he learned of his appointment, he said in 2021, that he fainted on the spot.)

"He couldn’t have listed Bill because that would have been too obvious, so he chose me," Nikolic said when the WSJ contacted him for this story. "I have come to believe it was likely a retaliatory move against Bill Gates."

The whole story is, like most others related to Epstein — including what we knew before now about his relationship with Gates — represents yet another peek into the ways the sex offender and wannabe kingmaker operated, often by working his way into the circles of the rich and powerful.

Of course, there's lots we don't know here — but if nothing else, the situation demonstrates once again that billionaires are just as prone to terrible judgment as anybody else.

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