It’s tough to imagine a more popular former politician than Barack Obama. He was arguably a celebrity even before he became president, and he’s spent every minute since then growing his legend. And, of course, growing his bank account!
Just how rich are Barack and Michelle Obama? Obviously, these two protect their privacy, so it’s impossible to determine an exact number. But by “following the money” over the years, we can make a pretty good estimate as to how much the Obamas are really worth.
Back in 2004, Barack Obama did the same thing most of us have had to do: juggle multiple jobs. But even back then, he was making more bank than most voters will ever see!
He earned just a little over $80,000 as a state senator for Illinois and a little over $32,000 lecturing at the University of Chicago Law School. While neither salary was crazy large, putting them together helped put the Obamas in the low six figures.
However, that amount grew much larger in a short amount of time!
The Million Dollar Man
Barack Obama became president in 2008. However, he and Michelle tag-teamed their way into millionaire-status back in 2006.
In Barack’s case, his base salary had gone up. As a U.S. senator, he was now pulling in just above $157,000. Meanwhile, Michelle brought in over $273,000 as a vice president for University of Chicago Hospitals. If that’s not enough, she brought in an additional $51,000 serving on the TreeHouse Foods board.
In a normal year, that would make Michelle the chief breadwinner. But Barack brought in the biggest amount that year by earning over half a million dollars in book sales for his autobiography The Audacity of Hope.
As you can tell, the Obamas were millionaires by the time Barack was elected president. But his eight years as president helped their wealth grow in a number of interesting ways.
First was the presidential salary. On top of generous expense accounts for travel and entertainment, Obama earned $400,000 per year as his salary for being president. Throw in the free housing and that’s a pretty great gig!
Second was the presidential pension. Even after leaving office, each president gets more than $207,000 per year as a pension. And the top-notch medical care and Secret Service protection is a sweet bonus.
Third, the presidential years raised the profile of the Obamas and helped them build a network of rich and powerful friends. And this started paying off right away.
Since leaving office, Barack and Michelle Obama have become very popular public speakers. But anyone who wants to hire one of them to speak better have a very deep wallet.
Barack Obama’s standard speaking fee is a cool $400,000. That’s right: he earns as much for a few minutes of chatting as he once did for an entire year of leading the free world!
Meanwhile, Michelle Obama commands up to $200,000 per speaking engagement. That means she pulls in the equivalent of a yearly presidential pension just for a few minutes of friendly chatter.
The Write Stuff
Earlier, we mentioned how Barack Obama earned over $500,000 in sales for his autobiography The Audacity of Hope in 2006. However, that book was the gift that kept on giving. He ended up making nearly $9 million from sales of that book along with his more modest children’s book Of Thee I Sing: A Letter To My Daughters. And his follow-up to The Audacity of Hope, called Dreams From My Father, pulled in nearly $7 million back in 2017.
If that’s impressive, check out Michelle Obama’s writing career. She received a heart-stopping $60 million advance for her autobiography Becoming. Some speculate these two have a joint agreement with Penguin Random House for future books (for a sizeable $65 million), and they are also working on multiple TV series for Netflix.
Work Hard, Play Hard
Another clue to someone’s wealth is how they spend their free time. After all, super exotic vacations usually translates to a super exotic bank account!
When they want something tropical, the Obamas visit Sir Richard Branson’s personal Caribbean retreat. The cost? Oh, a mere $42,000… per night, that is! When they vacationed in the South of France in 2019, they stayed in a humble place that costs a whopping $62,000 per week.
What about when they want to get away from it all? When that happens, the Obamas kick it on a $300 million yacht with the likes of Tom Hanks, Bruce Springsteen, and Oprah Winfrey!
Get a Little, Give a Little
It’s not all about what the Obamas spend on themselves. If you want to get to the bottom of their wealth, you should also know what they spent on others.
One of Barack Obama’s biggest causes has been the wellbeing of children. He donated over $390,000 from his Of Thee I Sing book proceeds to support scholarships for the children of injured soldiers. He also donated over one million dollars to charity during his presidency, and more than half of those charities focus on children’s needs.
By far the Obamas’ biggest charitable efforts go toward their own foundation. The Obama Foundation is dedicated to improving the lives of ordinary people by providing opportunities for education, advancement, and community. And that foundation raised nearly $400 million between 2017 and 2018.
What Are the Obamas Really Worth?
So, what’s the final tally? According to the New York Post, the Obamas were worth $135 million back in 2018.
Of course, that number may already be higher. They multiplied their wealth 30 times over in a period of 10 years. In another 10, who knows how high this power couple will have climbed?