How Does Trump’s Wealth Compare to Other U.S. Presidents?
It’s no secret that President Donald Trump is wealthy. He claims he has “very little debt” and that his company has “tremendous cash flow.” Setting aside whether or not those things are true, how does Trump’s personal net worth compare to other U.S. Presidents? Is he really the richest person to ever hold the office?
Our new viz compares the fortunes for the richest U.S. Presidents adjusted to 2016 dollars. The larger the donut circle, the bigger the fortune. And we included a presidential portrait for those men worth over $50 million, beginning with James Polk. We also added color-coding to complement the size, which lets you very easily see how the fortunes stack up against each other.
What can we tell by looking at this viz? For one thing, Trump’s personal fortune far outstrips anyone else. In fact, he is richer than all of the other U.S. Presidents combined ($3.5 billion vs. about $1.9 billion). We might even say that his fortune is “yuge.”
Second, it’s fair to say that all U.S. Presidents have been relatively wealthy with only a few exceptions. Harry Truman (1945-1953) is the only post-World War II President to have a net worth of under $1 million. Every other chief executive in modern American history has been worth well over $5 million, likely thanks to book contracts and lucrative speaking engagements.
A word should be said about comparing personal net worth across the centuries like this. For example, you have to calculate how much George Washington’s land would be worth today, which requires all sorts of assumptions. More to the point, Trump’s net worth relies on an ambiguous concept called “good will.” To be overly simple, good will is when you add value to something by virtue of its brand. Think about it like this: if you add a logo to a sweatshirt, that sweatshirt suddenly becomes more valuable because it is associated with a positive brand. Trump famously said that his net worth depends on how he’s feeling, which isn’t accurate, but you get the point.
Top Ten Richest U.S. Presidents
1. Donald Trump (Republican - from 2017), $3,500M
2. George Washington (None - 1789–1797), $580M
3. Thomas Jefferson (Democratic-Republican - 1801–1809), $234M
4. Theodore Roosevelt (Republican - 1901–1909), $138M
5. Andrew Jackson (Democratic - 1829–1837), $131M
6. James Madison (Democratic-Republican - 1809–1817), $112M
7. Lyndon B. Johnson (Democratic - 1963–1969), $108M
8. Herbert Hoover (Republican - 1929–1933), $82M
9. Bill Clinton (Democratic - 1993–2001), $75M
10. Franklin D. Roosevelt (Democratic - 1933–1945), $66M
Obviously, Donald Trump is by far the richest President in history. He’s more than six times richer than the next guy, George Washington. That being said, the country has had a lot of other rich men in charge in the past, especially the first several Presidents. This indicates that although no other President is nearly as rich as Trump, it’s a pretty good bet that the next leader will be at least a millionaire too.
Sources: Table 1.1