How the Obamas Became Millionaires (and What They Are Splurging On)

It’s an open secret that Barack and Michelle Obama are some of the richest people in the entire world. Ever since leaving the White House, these two have racked up some serious cash, and they’ve become quite skilled at spending it on the kinds of things most of us can only dream of.

However, have you ever stopped to wonder how these two went from solid salaries to millionaire status? And for that matter, just what are they spending all those cool millions of dollars on? You’ve got the questions and we’ve got the answers: keep reading to discover everything about how the Obamas became millionaires and just what they’ve been splurging on!

Barack Obama’s presidential salary was modest

A surprising number of people assume that Barack Obama and his wife became rich after Barack was elected president. However, that’s not exactly true: as President of the United States, Obama earned only $400,000 a year. That’s not exactly chump change, but it’s also not the kind of annual salary that catapults a person into ultrawealthy status.

Now, CNN reports that Barack Obama earns $207,800 per year for his pension, and we’re sure he’s grateful to have hundreds of thousands of effectively free money rolling in for year after year. But the real magic of the Obamas’ post-White House fortune comes from the fact that this power couple understood how to leverage their fame into lucrative deals that keep the family quite comfortable.

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The Obamas know how to write their own fortune (literally)

These days, estimates of the Obamas’ wealth range from $70 million on the lower end to $135 million on the higher end. Where did all this cash come from, though? One of the main sources of this wealth is the literary career of both Barack and Michelle Obama. For example, Barack has written multiple books, and when A Promised Land came out in 2020, it sold nearly 890,000 on day one. Michelle Obama is also an insanely successful author, and both of her books (Becoming and The Light We Carry) became instant best sellers.

These books are making publishers plenty of money, and you better believe the Obamas got a healthy taste of that profit. As Vox reports, the two got more than $65 million in advance for their latest books. That means that the Obamas can genuinely say that they managed to literally write their own fortunes, one best-selling book at a time. 

Media deals and careers in public spending

As you can tell, Barack and Michelle Obama would have been quite financially comfortable from their book deals alone. But one good deal leads to another, and the Obamas landed a sweet deal with Netflix in 2018 to become producers of new content for the streaming giant.

As if that wasn’t enough, Michelle Obama is also a highly paid public speaker. How high is “highly paid?” As the New York Post reports, she earned $741,000 for a one-hour speech she delivered in Germany in 2023. Like with the book sales, this is proof that when the Obamas speak, people will listen!

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Investing in homes away from home

Now that you know how much cash the Obamas have and how they are raking it in, we’re left with one big question: just what are they spending the money on? Some of the biggest purchases are actually the most practical. For example, the couple owns an $8 million mansion in Washington D.C.’s wealthy Kalorama neighborhood, meaning the former president can stay relatively close to his old White House stomping grounds whenever he wants to.

However, the Obamas also know how to get away from things and relax. They also own an $11.75 million mansion in Martha’s Vineyard, and this place is truly spectacular. It takes up 29 sprawling acres and offers perfect views of the ocean, making it a one-of-a-kind vacation spot for the family. 

Speaking of the family, Barack and Michelle often take the kids with them on high-class vacations around the world. That includes regular trips to Hawaii and a 2019 family trip to the South of France. Do you think if we ask nicely, the Obamas will take us on their next major vacation?

Generous financial donations over the years

When you find out just how rich Barack and Michelle Obama really are, you might wonder if they only spend this staggering amount of money on themselves. However, it’s worth noting that the family has been very generous over the years. While president, Barack Obama donated a million dollars to charities, and he gave the entirety of his Nobel Prize winnings to charity. 

Additionally, the family has heavily invested in the Obama Foundation, which aims to empower countless people in America and throughout the world. All of this is the Obamas’ way of giving back to a country that has given them so much, and we’re happy they are using some of their vast fortune to make the world around us a better place.

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