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Since leaving the White House, Barack Obama has continued to very well for himself financially. The former president released the first volume of his memoir, “A Promised Land,” in November 2020; by December 2020, it had sold 3.3 million copies, becoming one of the top-selling political memoirs in history. Aside from the success of his memoir, Obama and his wife, former first lady Michelle Obama, also signed a lucrative Netflix deal in 2018.
Under the banner of their production company, Higher Ground, the Obamas have released three documentaries so far: “American Factory,” which won an Oscar, “Becoming” and “Crip Camp,” which has the rare distinction of holding a 100% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
Celebrity Net Worth reported the former president’s net worth as $70 million. According to an estimate by Analytics@American, American University’s business analytics program, however, Barack and Michelle Obama could make as much as $242.5 million post-presidency.
- Net worth: $70 million
- Date of birth: Aug. 4, 1961
- Primary sources of wealth: Presidential salary and pension, book and Netflix deals
- Career highlights: Former president, Nobel Peace Prize
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Barack Obama’s Net Worth: $70 Million
Obama has an estimated net worth of $70 million, according to Celebrity Net Worth, in part due to earning $400,000 a year throughout his entire eight-year term as president of the United States. On April 15, 2016, Obama released his 2015 tax returns, which showed that he and his wife filed jointly and reported an adjusted gross income of $436,065. They paid $81,472 in taxes according to their 18.7% tax rate. They also donated a total of $64,066 to more than 30 charities.
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A Timeline of Barack Obama’s Wealth
How did Obama grow his fortune? Here’s a timeline of his accomplishments that have added to his earnings over the years, as chronicled by Business Insider:
- 2004: He earned a salary of $80,287 from the Illinois Senate and $32,144 from the University of Chicago Law School, where he lectured. Obama also had investments in three different assets — including the Vanguard Wellington Fund — evaluated between $100,000 and $200,000.
- 2005: Obama received a multi-book deal with Random House and was given a $1.9 million advance after January 2005 for “The Audacity of Hope,” plus royalties, following his appearance at the 2004 Democratic National Convention. He also earned just over $847,000 that year from another book advance for “Dreams From My Father,” plus $378,237 from additional book royalties.
- 2006: Obama reported book royalties for “Dreams From My Father” of a little less than $150,000, plus $425,000 from royalties for “The Audacity of Hope.”
- 2007: Obama earned almost $3.3 million from Random House book royalties and almost $816,000 from Dystel & Goderich for “Dreams From My Father.” He acquired U.S. Treasury notes valued between $500,000 and $1 million, and he invested in two 529 college savings plans — valued at between $50,000 and $100,000 each to start — for his daughters.
- 2008: When Obama was elected president, he owned somewhere between $1.1 million and $5.1 million in U.S. Treasury bills.
- 2009: Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize, which came with a $1.4 million award. He donated it to a number of different charities.
- 2009-2015: Obama earned $400,000 a year as president and continued to earn book royalties, as well as interest on his investments.
- 2016-2017: Newsweek reported that Obama’s annual pension after leaving the White House is more than $200,000. He has also received fees as large as $400,000 for public speaking events. The Obamas also signed a book deal together with Penguin Random House reportedly worth more than $65 million for two books — one written by each member of the power couple.
- 2018: The Obamas founded Higher Ground Productions and signed a production deal with Netflix, according to CNBC.
- 2020: Barack Obama released his latest book, “A Promised Land.” The book is part of an unprecedented $65 million deal that also included Michelle Obama’s memoir.
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Barack Obama’s Life Beyond the Presidency
Obama is now one of four living former presidents, and he has returned to his community activist roots, working on issues that were important to him during his presidency, such as gun control, immigration, nuclear nonproliferation, race relations and criminal justice reform. Through various organizations, social media, speaking engagements and his production company, Obama continues to raise awareness of these issues and pursue social change.
According to the 1958 Former Presidents Act, Obama will receive the salary of a cabinet secretary for the rest of his life. That amount is his $205,700 annual pension. Among the other perks are health insurance and round-the-clock Secret Service protection until his death.
The cost of Secret Service protection is not made public, but Obama will also receive funds for an office, staff and related expenses, which George W. Bush took advantage of to the tune of almost $1.1 million in 2015.
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Barack Obama’s Netflix Deal
Obama is gearing up to increase his sphere of influence — and potentially his net worth — as a producer. He and his wife signed a deal to produce series and films for Netflix in 2018. Netflix did not disclose the financial details; The New York Times, however, reported that similar deals have been valued at tens of millions over several years.
The Obamas have so far produced three documentaries under Higher Ground Productions: “American Factory,” “Crip Camp,” and “Becoming.” Forthcoming titles include a sci-fi film called “Satellite,” a YA series called “Firekeeper’s Daughter,” and several more features — as well as a docuseries about the National Parks.
“Barack and I have always believed in the power of storytelling to inspire us,” Michelle Obama said in the official announcement.
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Barack Obama’s Speaking Fees
Many presidents establish foundations and enjoy lucrative second careers as in-demand speakers and authors, and the Obamas are as popular as ever. The former president gave a speech in September 2017 at a healthcare conference run by the trading and investment firm Cantor Fitzgerald, according to The New York Times. His fee for that event was reported to be $400,000, the same as his presidential annual salary.
Analytics@American estimated that the Obamas could make about 50 speeches a year, earning “a conservative $200,000” per speech.
Barack Obama’s Real Estate
Obama is the first former president in nearly 100 years to remain in Washington, D.C., after leaving office. He and the family remained in town so his youngest daughter, Sasha, could finish high school. She graduated in June 2019.
Their digs are located in the area’s posh Kalorama neighborhood, where former first daughter Ivanka Trump also owns a home. The Obamas bought the house for $8.1 million, according to CNBC. They also kept their Chicago home in the historic Hyde Park neighborhood.
With their post-presidential speaking and book deals, real estate holdings and production company, the Obamas are primed to maintain a considerable amount of wealth and influence beyond their time in the White House. Read more about the wealthiest presidential families.
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Sam DiSalvo, Stephanie Barbaran, and Joel Anderson contributed to the reporting for this article.
Last updated: Feb. 15, 2021
About the Author
Andrew Lisa has been writing professionally since 2001. An award-winning writer, Andrew was formerly one of the youngest nationally distributed columnists for the largest newspaper syndicate in the country, the Gannett News Service. He worked as the business section editor for amNewYork, the most widely distributed newspaper in Manhattan, and worked as a copy editor for TheStreet.com, a financial publication in the heart of Wall Street’s investment community in New York City.