The Obamas' net worth: How Michelle and Barack Obama make their money

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Former President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama are a busy couple.

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 highly lucrative.

For her part, Michelle Obama's first memoir, "Becoming," was published in November 2018 and became that year's No. 1 best-selling book.

Her second book, "The Light We Carry: Overcoming in Uncertain Times," was published in November 2022 and also became a bestseller.

And the former president's latest memoir, "A Promised Land," sold nearly 890,000 copies within 24 hours of its November 2020 release.

These endeavors — along with the six-figure pension all former presidents receive — have significantly contributed to the Obamas' net worth, which is at least $70 million, according to International Business Times.

The New York Post pegged their fortune much higher, at $135 million.

From philanthropic efforts, to vacationing where the sun shines and making long-term investments in their daughters' education, here's how the Obamas make and spend their money.

The Obamas entered the White House with a $1.3 million net worth in 2008

Obamas watch a basketball game

That has since grown to at least $70 million, according to International Business Times.

Source: American University, CNN Money, International Business Times

Between 2005 and 2016, the Obamas earned a total of $20.5 million

Barack and Michelle Obama dancing
Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

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.

Source: Forbes

Obama earned a six-figure salary as president

barack obama pointing from a podium
Milos Bicanski/Getty Images

Obama earned $400,000 a year during his eight years as president, and he still earns an annual pension of about $200,000 as a former president.

Source: GoBankingRates

The lion's share of the Obamas' fortune comes from books

barack obama book
Solaris Images/Getty Images

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."

Source: Forbes

But Barack's lucrative career as an author isn't over.

michelle and barack obama wave
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

In 2017, he and Michelle signed book deals worth at least $60 million to each write their own memoirs.

Source: Business Insider

Michelle's memoir, "Becoming," was an international bestseller

Michelle Obama at a "Becoming" book signing
Richard Drew/AP Images

"Becoming" was published in November 2018. As of July 2022, it had sold more than 17 million copies worldwide.

The Guardian said that it sold nearly nine copies per second on its first day on sale in North America.

Source: Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, The Guardian

She's also sold 25 different items of merchandise related to the book

Michelle Obama gives two thumbs up
Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

This included mugs that retailed for $20 and candles that retailed for $35.

Source: New York Post

Michelle's second book was also a bestseller.

Michelle Obama speaks at a book launch
Jose Luis Magana/AP Photo

Her second book, "The Light We Carry: Overcoming in Uncertain Times," was published in November 2022. It took the top spot on USA TODAY's best-selling books list in its debut week.


And Obama's memoir sold nearly 890,000 copies in the US and Canada within 24 hours of its release.

barack obama books
Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images

"A Promised Land," which was published in November 2020. By the end of the year, it had sold 3.3 million copies in the US and Canada.

Source: AP News

Books aren't the Obamas' only foray into media

barack and michelle chatting
Mark Wilson/Getty Images

In 2018, the couple signed a production deal with Netflix, which is estimated to be $50 million.

Source: New York Post

That includes a documentary film, "Becoming," accompanying Michelle's memoir

michelle obama presenting an award
Former first lady Michelle Obama presents the Arthur Ashe Courage Award at the ESPYS at the Microsoft Theater on Wednesday, July 12, 2017, in Los Angeles.Invision/Chris Pizzello via Associated Press

It was released on May 6, 2020.

Source: CNN

Since leaving office, Barack Obama has also been paid as much as $400,000 for public speaking events.

barack obama speaks at university of chicago
Scott Olson/Getty Images

Source: CNBC

He reportedly earned $800,000 for just two speeches

barack obama looks pensive
Thibault Camus/AP Images

Obama reportedly earned a hefty sum for 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.

Source: New York Post

And Michelle reportedly rakes in $225,000 per speaking appearance.

michelle obama at a speaking engagement
Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

Source: New York Post

Tickets to her 2018 book tour cost as much as $4,070

michelle obama speaks at a barclays event
Frank Franklin II/AP Images

Tickets to her 2018 book tour stop at Barclay's Center in Brooklyn ranged from $307 to $4,070.

Source: New York Post

More recently, Michelle has ventured into podcasting

michelle obama speaks into a microphone
Erika Goldring/Getty Images

Michelle announced plans in 2019 to host an exclusive podcast with Spotify. 'The Michelle Obama Podcast' looked at interpersonal relationships and debuted in July 2020.

She has an upcoming series, 'Michelle Obama: The Light Podcast,' which will premiere on Audible in March 2023.

Source: The Verge, CBS News

The Obamas could ultimately earn as much as $242.5 million

Barack Obama at a beach
Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

All things considered, the Obamas could stand to earn as much as $242.5 million in their post-presidency life, American University estimated in 2017.

And here's how they've spent their fortune so far ...

Source: American University

They think long-term when it comes to spending money

sasha and malia obama with an ice cream
Pool/Getty Images

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.

Source: Business Insider, Town and Country

The Obamas also made an investment in real estate

Barack Obama biking with his daughter
Pool/Getty Images

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.

Source: The Washington Post

At the time of purchase, it was reportedly the second-most-expensive home in the neighborhood

Kalorama in DC
The Kalorama neighborhood of Washington, DC.Harrison Jacobs/Business Insider

The most expensive home belonged to Jeff Bezos, and it was a former textile museum turned mansion.

Source: The Washington Post

They still own their Chicago home

barack and michelle look at a city view
Getty Images

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.

Source: Chicago Tribune, Cook County Assessor's Office, Cook County Recorder of Deeds

In 2019, the Obamas reportedly purchased a house in Martha's Vineyard for $11.75 million

obama martha vineyard house
Courtesy of LandVest

According to a report from the Vineyard Gazette, the 6,892-square-foot house sits on nearly 30 acres overlooking the Edgartown Great Pond.

Source: Vineyard Gazette

They also love a vacation

barack obama in the sea
Getty Images

The Obamas have 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.

Sources: Business Insider, Time

Obama visited his home state of Hawaii and the island of Tetiaroa in French Polynesia

barack obama golfing
Chris Carlson/AP Photos

In French Polynesia, Obama 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.

Source: Time, The Brando

One of their luxury holidays involved river rafting in Indonesia

Obama Family river rafting in Indonesia
Antara Foto Agency/Reuters

The Obamas have also been spotted on David Geffen's yacht with Oprah, Tom Hanks, and Bruce Springsteen, and at a wine tasting in Tuscany and river rafting in Indonesia.

Source: Business Insider, Time

It's hard to say how much of their own money the Obamas spent on their vacations

barack obama and family walking
Jacquelyn Martin/AP Photos

That's because the General Services Administration is required to provide a former president with enough money to cover travel and business expenses.

Source: Business Insider

But we do know wardrobe isn't included in the package of presidential benefits and perks

Michelle Obama fixes barack obama's bow tie
US President Barack Obama has his tie adjusted by first lady Michelle Obama as they await the arrival of Chinese President Xi Jinping and Madame Peng Liyuan for a State Dinner at the White House in Washington, September 25, 2015.Reuters

Source: Business Insider

Michelle has donned both expensive designer clothes and affordable brands

michelle obama and barack obama walking with a coffee in hand
MediaPunch/AP Photos

She has worn pieces from Naeem Khan and a Versace gown worth an estimated $12,000 for special events as the first lady. Michelle is also known for her casual, relatable style. She's often been spotted in affordable brands like J. Crew, Target, and Converse.

Source: New York Times, Business Insider

Of course, she needs the perfect outfit for date night, which she and Barack always make time for

michelle and barack obama with beyonce
The 2008 Inaugural Ball.Elise Amendola/AP Images

The couple was once spotted attending a Beyoncé and Jay-Z concert.

Source: Business Insider

Not all aspects of their lives are as lavish as their vacations.

Michelle Obama gardening
Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP Photos

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.

Source: People

The Obamas also spend a significant amount of their money on philanthropy

barack obama charity event
Pool/Getty Images

From 2009 to 2015, they gave $1.1 million to charity, Forbes reported.

Source: Forbes

More than half of their donations went to organizations for children

barack obama kids reaches out to kids
Pool/Getty Images

They donated to charities focusing on African-American causes, veterans, disaster relief, homelessness and housing, and health.

Source: Forbes

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

obama reads a childrens' book in a library
Pool/Getty Images

The donations totaled $392,000 from 2009 to 2015.

Source: Forbes

In 2015, Obama's penultimate year in office, the Obamas gave about 15% of their income to charity

Obama volunteers with kids
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The Obamas donated more than $64,000 to 34 charities, Time reported, citing tax returns.

Source: Time

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.

Obama Barack sitting on an office chair
Pool/Getty Images

Source: Business Insider

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