Former President Barack Obama and former First Lady Michelle Obama are hosting three virtual graduation events for the millions of students who had their graduation canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The first two events, on May 16, will celebrate graduates of historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and high school students in collaboration with the Lebron James Family Foundation. The last event, on June 6, will feature the Obamas and a star-studded cast of other prominent political figures and celebrities hosted in partnership with YouTube.
The Obamas are a busy couple, even when they’re not giving virtual commencement speeches. From speaking at events around the world to writing memoirs and signing a massive production deal with Netflix, the Obamas’ life after the White House has been full and very lucrative.
These endeavors – along with the six-figure pension all former presidents receive – have significantly contributed to the Obamas’ net worth, which is at least $40 million, according to a 2018 GoBankingRates estimate. The New York Post recently pegged their fortune much higher, at $135 million.
From philanthropic efforts to vacationing where the sun shines to making long-term investments in his daughters’ education, here’s how the Obamas spend their fortune.
The Obamas entered the White House with a $1.3 million net worth in 2008. That has since grown to at least $40 million, according to a 2018 estimation.
From 2005 (when Barack Obama joined the US Senate) to 2016, the Obamas earned a total of $20.5 million from his government salary, book royalties, investment income, and Michelle Obama’s income from her job at University of Chicago Hospitals before she became the first lady.
Obama earned $400,000 a year during his eight years as president, and he earns an annual pension of about $200,000 as a former president.
The lion’s share of the Obamas’ fortune came from books. From 2005 to 2016, Obama earned $15.6 million in advances and royalties from his books “The Audacity of Hope” and “Of Thee I Sing: A Letter to My Daughters” and royalties for “Dreams From My Father,” Forbes reported, citing tax returns and financial documents.
But Barack’s lucrative career as an author isn’t over. In 2017, he and Michelle signed book deals worth at least $60 million.
Michelle’s memoir, “Becoming,” was published in November 2018. As of March 2019, it had sold almost 10 million copies.
She’s also sold 25 different items of merchandise related to the book, including mugs that retail for $20 and candles that retail for $35.
Books aren’t the Obamas’ only foray into media — in 2018 they signed a production deal with Netflix, which is estimated to be $50 million, according to The New York Post.
That includes a documentary film, “Becoming,” accompanying Michelle’s memoir. It released on May 6, 2020.
Since leaving office, Obama has also been paid as much as $400,000 for public speaking events.
He reportedly earned $800,000 for two speeches to Northern Trust Corp. and the Carlyle Group and a minimum of $1.2 million for three talks to Wall Street firms in 2017.
And Michelle reportedly rakes in $225,000 per speaking appearance.
Tickets to her 2018 book tour stop at Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn ranged from $307 to $4,070.
All things considered, the Obamas could stand to earn as much as $242.5 million in their post-presidency life, American University estimated. But here’s how they’ve spent their fortune so far …
The Obamas think long-term when it comes to their money. In 2007, Obama purchased Bright Directions age-based growth plans, each worth $50,000 to $100,000, to pay for Malia’s and Sasha’s college education. Malia started at Harvard in fall 2017, while Sasha started at the University of Michigan in fall 2019.
The Obamas also made an investment in real estate. They needed a new place to live after leaving the White House, so they purchased an 8,200-square-foot mansion in Washington, DC, for $8.1 million after previously renting it.
At the time of purchase, it was reportedly the second-most-expensive home in the neighborhood, right behind Jeff Bezos’ former textile museum turned mansion.
In addition to their residence in Washington, DC, the Obamas still own their home in Chicago’s Hyde Park neighborhood that they bought for $1.65 million in 2005. They took out a $1.3 million mortgage on the home. It’s valued at about $2.5 million.
In late 2019, the Obamas reportedly purchased a 6,892-square-foot house on Martha’s Vineyard for $11.75 million. According to the report from the Vineyard Gazette, it sits on nearly 30 acres overlooking the Edgartown Great Pond.
The Obamas have also enjoyed several vacations since leaving the White House. They first headed to Southern California and eventually made their way to Necker Island, where Obama was spotted kitesurfing with Richard Branson.
Obama also visited his home state of Hawaii and the island of Tetiaroa in French Polynesia, where he checked into a luxury resort called The Brando. A night there in a one-bedroom villa can cost anywhere from $3,034 to $4,318.
The Obamas have also been spotted on David Geffen’s yacht with Oprah, Tom Hanks, and Bruce Springsteen; at a wine tasting in Tuscany; and river rafting in Indonesia.
The General Services Administration is required to provide a former president with enough money to cover travel and business expenses, so it’s hard to say how much of their own money the Obamas spent on their vacations.
We do know wardrobe isn’t included in the package of presidential benefits and perks.
While Michelle has donned expensive designer clothes like pieces from Naeem Khan and a Versace gown worth an estimated $12,000 for special events as the first lady, she’s also known for her casual, relatable style. She’s often been spotted in affordable brands like J. Crew, Target, and Converse.
Of course, she needs the perfect outfit for date night, which she and Barack always make time for. The couple was once spotted attending a Beyoncé and Jay-Z concert.
Not all aspects of their lives are as lavish as their vacations. Michelle opts for a bag lunch, like turkey chili, over eating out, the former president’s chief of staff told People magazine in 2017. And she’s a regular at SoulCycle, which costs $36 a class or $900 for 30 classes.
The Obamas also spend a significant amount of their money on philanthropy. From 2009 to 2015, they gave $1.1 million to charity, Forbes reported.
During that time frame, they donated to charities focusing on African-American causes, veterans, disaster relief, homelessness and housing, and health. More than half of their donations went to organizations for children.
Obama donated all the post-tax profits from his children’s book, “Of Thee I Sing,” to provide scholarships for children of wounded and fallen soldiers. The donations totaled $392,000 from 2009 to 2015.
In 2015, Obama’s penultimate year in office, the Obamas donated more than $64,000, or about 15% of their income, to 34 charities, Time reported, citing tax returns.
But none of this includes Obama’s biggest donation to date: his $1.4 million Nobel Peace Prize award in 2009, all of which he donated to multiple charities.
This content was originally published here.