Wealth is no longer a de facto prerequisite for the presidency, but thanks to the lucrative opportunities afforded to those with the title “ex-president,” wealth for those who have finished their term may be a guarantee.
Several presidents went into debt after their time in office, but that may never happen again. Recent presidents have received multi-million dollar offers for the rights to their memoirs about life in the Oval Office. Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle, reportedly inked a deal worth over $60 million for the rights to their book.
Net worth is always difficult to calculate, especially when comparing figures across four different centuries. In the early days of America, land ownership had significant social and political value, meaning those with the most land typically also had the most wealth.
U.S. presidents have been anywhere from some of the wealthiest people in the country to being quite poor. Their wealth, however, does not seem to have an impact on the quality of their presidency. George Washington would have hundreds of millions of dollars in today’s money. Abraham Lincoln never had much money and spent much of his life doing odd jobs before getting into politics. Both are regarded as great leaders and influential figures in American history.
24/7 Wall St. analyzed the finances of U.S. presidents based on historical sources. The figures are adjusted for inflation to December 2017 levels, the most recent level available. We have accounted for hard assets such as real estate, estimated lifetime savings based on work history and inheritance. We also considered annual salaries, incomes earned from royalties on books, ownership of companies, yields from family estates, and other forms of income.
For deceased presidents, the ranking is based on peak net worth, or how much a president’s combined assets were worth at the time in their life when they were the richest. Many presidents became impoverished or even went into debt after their time in office. For living presidents, the estimate is based on current figures.