Former President Barack Obama is gearing up to increase his sphere of influence — and potentially his net worth — as a producer. He and his wife Michelle signed a deal to produce series and films for Netflix, according to a press release from the company on May 21, 2018.
The multi-year deal could include scripted and unscripted series and films that will be made available to the 125 million Netflix subscribers in 190 countries. Netflix did not disclose the financial details; however, The New York Times and Variety reported that similar deals have been valued at tens of millions over several years.
The Obamas will produce content for the streaming service under the entity Higher Ground Productions. “Barack and I have always believed in the power of storytelling to inspire us,” said Mrs. Obama in the official announcement.
The power couple’s storytelling has already proven lucrative. Their most recent book deal with Penguin Random House, for example, is worth up to $65 million, according to NBC News.
Celebrity Net Worth reported both Barack and Michelle Obama’s current net worths as $40 million, but according to data collected by Analytics@American, the online business analytics degree from American University, the Obamas could make as much as $242 million post-presidency.
Read on to learn more about how Barack Obama amassed his fortune.
Barack Obama Net Worth: $40 Million
Barack Obama earned $400,000 a year throughout his entire eight-year term as President of the United States. On April 15, 2016, Mr. 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 percent tax rate. They also donated a total of $64,066 to more than 30 charities.
Compare: President Donald Trump’s Net Worth
A Timeline of Barack Obama’s Wealth
How did Barack Obama grow his fortune? Here’s a timeline of his earnings over the years, as chronicled by Business Insider:
- 2004: He earned a salary of $80,287 from the Illinois State Senate and $32,144 from the University of Chicago Law School where he taught. The former president also had assets in four financial funds worth between $50,000 and $100,000 each.
- 2005: Obama signed a multi-book deal with Random House and received a $1.9 million advance for “The Audacity of Hope,” plus royalties, following his appearance at the 2004 Democratic National Convention. Also that year he earned just over $847,000 off another book advance, plus $378,000 off additional book royalties. Meanwhile, his investments grew with the addition of a Nuveen Floating Rate Income Fund valued between $50,000 and $100,000. He also reported deposit accounts valued between $150,000 and $350,000.
- 2006: Obama reported book royalties of just under $150,000, plus $425,000 off an additional book advance. He also acquired publicly-traded assets worth tens of thousands, including funds with Goldman Sachs and Vanguard.
- 2007: Obama earned $3.3 million off book royalties from Random House and $816,000 from Dystel & Goderich Literary Management. He acquired a Northern Municipal Money Market Fund valued between $1 million and $5 million, in addition to U.S. Treasury notes valued between $500,000 and $1 million. For his daughters, he invested in two 529 college savings plans valued around $200,000 each.
- 2008: When Obama was elected president, he owned somewhere between $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 an assortment of 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: Obama receives an annual pension of more than $200,000 after leaving the White House, according to Newsweek. He also receives fees as large as $400,000 for public speaking events.
- 2018: The Obamas founded Higher Ground Productions and signed a production deal with Netflix.
Barack Obama: Life Beyond the Presidency
Barack Obama is now one of five 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 now his production company, Obama continues to raise awareness for 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’s $205,700 a year. Among the other perks are health insurance and round-the-clock Secret Service protection until his death.
Related: 15 Crazy Perks of Being President
The costs of Secret Service protection are 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 $1.1 million in 2015.
Many presidents establish foundations and enjoy lucrative second careers as in-demand speakers and authors, and the Obamas are as popular as ever. Obama gave a speech in September 2017 at a healthcare conference run by Cantor Fitzgerald, a trading and investment firm, according to The New York Times. His fee for that event was reported to be $400,000, the same as his presidential annual salary.
American University estimated that the Obamas could make as many as 50 speeches a year, earning “a conservative $200,000 a piece and you’re already close to $200 million before taxes,” the study found.
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.
Their Washington digs are located in the capitol’s posh Kalorama neighborhood, where first daughter Ivanka Trump also owns a home. The Obamas have leased an 8,200-square-foot, nine-bedroom mansion that was built in 1928. The spacious home last sold for $5.3 million in 2014 and is estimated to be worth $6.3 million today.
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.
Stephanie Barbaran contributed to the reporting for this article.