President Barack Obama has a whopping net worth of $70 million since leaving office in 2016. He’s gone from being a struggling college professor to one of the wealthiest former presidents. But how does Obama’s net worth compare to other presidents?
Obama net worth tied to book deals
Obama’s wealth started to rise before he was president. When he first became senator of Illinois in 2005, sales of his first memoir, Dreams from My Father, skyrocketed. According to Celebrity Net Worth, Obama’s net worth grew from $200,000 to $1.7 million in 2005. The Washington Post noted that Obama received a $1.9 million advance for the publication of his second memoir, The Audacity of Hope in 2006. The success of that book led Obama’s net worth to rise in 2007 to $4.2 million.
In addition to those previous book deals, he and former first lady Michelle Obama are profiting from their most recent book deals. Celebrity Net Worth noted that in 2017, they received a $60 million advance for their latest memoirs. Michelle Obama’s memoir, Becoming, was the best-selling memoir of 2018. President Obama’s memoir is slated to be released at the end of 2020 or early 2021.
The Obamas also are wealthy because of a production deal the couple signed with Netflix. They signed a deal with the streaming company to produce a series of films. The exact amount of the deal hasn’t been disclosed. However, the deal could be analogous to other multimillion-dollar deals reached with producers like Shonda Rimes.
Even though President Obama is one of the wealthiest presidents, there are other former commanders-in-chief that made much less and more than Obama. Here are some former presidents whose net worth is more and less than Obama’s, according to 24/7 Wall Street and Investopedia.
Trump and other presidents had more than Obama’s net worth
Obama’s net worth pales in comparison to current president Donald Trump. A combination of inherited wealth and overseas business deals helped Trump amass his fortune. Trump inherited $413 million from his father Fred. While Trump won’t release his current tax returns, he has a net worth of $3 billion through real estate deals, including owning many casinos and golf resorts.
Other presidents who made more than Obama were John F. Kennedy, who had a net worth of $100 million. He would have inherited $1 billion from his father, Joseph P. Kennedy if he wasn’t assassinated, according to Marketwatch. The senior Kennedy made money by importing Scottish gin after Prohibition ended. Rumors swirled that he made money as a bootlegger, but no evidence was ever found that he sold alcohol illegally to the public. The Kennedy fortune grew through investments and through owning a movie studio.
In addition to Kennedy, many former presidents had a greater net worth than Obama. Many of the founding father presidents George Washington and Andrew Jackson. Washington’s net worth was $587 million. Jackson’s was $132.6 million. Both men earned their wealth through inheriting plantations. They also owned hundreds of enslaved African-Americans who were priced at thousands of dollars.
Modern presidents had greater net worth than Obama
More modern presidents that have greater net worth than Obama were Southern natives Lyndon Johnson and Bill Clinton. Johnson’s net worth was $109.3 million. Lyndon Johnson made his money from owning livestock and a sprawling 1,500 acres of land in his native Texas. Like Obama, his net worth was helped by his wife, Lady Bird and her successful ownership of radio stations.
Like Obama, Clinton made his fortune once he left office. Clinton’s net worth is currently $75.9 million. He received $15 million for writing his autobiography, My Life. Clinton also received millions for giving speeches.
Former president Theodore Roosevelt was worth $125 million. Roosevelt inherited his fortune through his wealthy New York family. However, unlike other wealthy presidents and similar to his cousin, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, he was less interested in just making money. He focused more on public service than other wealthy former presidents.
Abraham Lincoln and other presidents had less wealth than Obama
While many presidents were wealthier than Obama, many presidents actually were poor by today’s standards. Abraham Lincoln had a net worth of $85,000 when he died. In addition to his presidential salary, he had savings after years of working as a lawyer. Lincoln was well-off by the standards of the 1800’s. However, that pales in comparison to Obama’s current net worth.
Thomas Jefferson had a sprawling Monticello plantation and owned 200 enslaved African-Americans. He was worth $200 million at one point in his life. However, at the end of his life, he fell deep into debt and tried to sell Monticello to pay off the debt. He left no inheritance to his family at the time of his death. His daughter had to live off charity after Jefferson’s death.
William Henry Harrison was one of the shortest-serving and poorest presidents. Harrison made little money from his farm after bad weather destroyed his crops. Harrison died just 30 days after being inaugurated as president. At the time of his death, he was so poor that Congress had to give his widow a $25,000 pension.
Harry Truman guided the U.S. after the Great Depression but had a financial depression of his own. Truman’s humble background probably made him ill-prepared to handle financial debt. He had a men’s clothing store that struggled and bad investments kept the former president in debt. Truman was so financially strapped that he and his wife Bess moved in with her mother after his presidency ended. Truman had to live on a $25,000 presidential pension after he left office. He was one of the first recipients of Medicare because he couldn’t afford medical insurance.
Just as in politics, wealth can take many twists and turns. Some presidents lost great fortunes and became penniless. Some former presidents amassed wealth after humble beginnings. President Obama’s net worth grew through persistence, skill, and other streams of income. Presidents can earn a lot of money once they leave office.