The Obamas are Raking in Big Time Income Since Leaving Office

Obama and his family are likely to make far more money now that they are out of office than when they were in office.

Former President Barack Obama has been living the “good life” since the end of his Presidency. Obama has been spotted hanging out with celebrities around the world, is working on a forthcoming memoir, and has also been cashing some very hefty checks for speaking engagements and other events.

Of course, President Obama is far from the first or only President to rack up hefty speaking fees and multi-million dollar book deals. However, Obama has been receiving comparatively little slack for the hefty checks he’s cashing. Hillary Clinton, among others, was repeatedly lambasted for the fees she collected through speaking engagements, while Obama has so far been able to fly largely under the radar.

So how much will the Obama’s ultimately earn? That’s for time to tell, but researchers at American University’s Kogod School of Business have estimated that the Obama family could ultimately rack in over $240 million dollars over the next 15 years. This is in comparison to a net worth of only about $1.3 million dollars when they assumed office.

These numbers are, if anything, conservative. For example, the projections included 50 speeches per year at about $200,000 apiece. However, Obama has been charging as much as $400,000 per speech so far.

Speaking Fees Producing Huge Returns

It’s hard to tally just how much Obama is making off of his speaking fees. The year is still young, the speaking engagements are just shaping up, and uncovering such financial data can be difficult. However, the details uncovered so far suggest that Obama is commanding perhaps the highest speaking fees in the world at the moment.

Obama already landed a cool $400,000 to give a speech to Wall Street bankers at a conference run by Cantor Fitzgerald this September. Obama was also paid $400,000 for an interview at an A&E networks event. So far, no other speeches have been announced publicly, but don’t expect the President to shy away from the lucrative speaking circuit.

Further, earlier this year Obama spoke at a climate change event in Milan, Italy. Whether or not Obama was paid, and how much he might have been paid, remains unknown. However, ticket sales from the event suggest that organizers raised at least $3.5 million dollars. It’s unlikely then that Obama, the headline speaker, didn’t get a cut. Rumors have swirled that Obama himself collected $3 million, but so far the numbers haven’t been substantiated. Unless data is made public, we may never know how much Obama was paid.

So far, the Obama family has generally shied away from the spotlight post-office. This shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, most presidents decide to take some time away from the spotlight after leaving the White House. Still, Obama has already been spotted in at least nine different countries. Don’t be surprised if the former President becomes more of a public mainstay in the not-so-distant future.

And don’t be surprised if Obama decides to hob-knob with more Wall Street bankers and other elites in the future. After all, one of the first speaking engagements Obama agreed to was for Wall Street bankers, who, incidentally, were also among his biggest campaign funders during his Presidential elections. Interestingly, former First Lady Michelle Obama is rumored to be charging as much as $200,000 per speaking engagement.

Regardless, Obama is far from the first or only political big-wig to make money off of speaking fees. President Trump is rumored to have charged as much as $1.5 million dollars per speech before assuming office. Hillary Clinton was known to charge $300,000 or more to speak at events, with her husband commanding similar fees.  George W. Bush, in comparison, is a “steal”, charging between $100,000 to $175,000 per speech.

Other Presidents have managed to command even higher fees. President Ronald Reagan was paid $1 million per speech by Fujisankei Communications Group to come and tour Japan. Reagan made two speeches. Former United Kingdom Prime Minister Tony Blair has been paid over $600,000 to give speeches as well.

Non-Presidential figures can also charge very hefty fees. Former New York City mayor Rudy Guilani is believed to charge as much as $270,000 per speech, while former Federal Reserve Chair Alan Greenspan charges as much as $250,000. Still, Barack Obama remains one of the highest paid speakers in the world right now, and in the next few years, his speaking fee income could rise dramatically.

The Many Other Incomes of the Obama Family

Obama collected half a million dollars a year in salary for being President. However, this income was only one of the many revenue streams that the President was able to enjoy. Even before assuming office, President Obama had written two memoirs, the “Audacity of Hope” and “Dreams From My Father”. While in office, the President also penned a children’s book “Of Thee I Sing: A Letter To My Daughters”.  These books alone racked up well over $15 million dollars between 2005 and 2016.  You can check out the Obama’s earnings in more detail below (from Forbes).

Credit: Forbes.com


The University of Chicago Hospital money, by the way, stems from Michelle Obama and her work for the hospital. As Barack pursued the Presidency, that money tapered off. The government salary data includes both Barack’s time as President and time in the Senate. The biggest takeaway is the money Obama pulled in for his books, and that income is likely to increase in the future.

Shortly after leaving office, the Obamas signed a massive book deal worth $65 million dollars. This astonishingly high contract came after a bidding war between major publishers for the memoirs of both Michelle and Barack. As part of the deal, the winning bidder, Random Penguin House, will also donate 1 million books to First Book. Anyways, $65 million isn’t just a hefty sum, it’s an absurdly large contract, even for Presidential memoirs. By comparison, former Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush both sold their memoirs for around $10 million dollars.

In total, Obama and his family are likely to make far more money now that they are out of office than when they were in office. Some have alleged that speaking fees and other forms of “easy” income could constitute a form of delayed graft. Companies that the President favored could, potentially, shower him with lavish speaking fees and other sinecures. This potential problem certainly isn’t limited to Obama, and was among the chief reasons why the American people didn’t trust Hillary Clinton during the 2016 Presidential elections.

Brian Brinker

Brian Brinker is an OpsLens Contributor and political consultant. Brinker has an M.A in Global Affairs from American University.

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