Since leaving the White House, Barack Obama seems to have been enjoying a bit of a jolly.
He’s moved to a plush mansion in a wealthy Washington neighbourhood, holidayed in Palm Springs and on Richard Branson’s private island, and swapped the sharp presidential suits for flip-flops and leather jackets.
But the 44th president got back to work this week, agreeing to make a keynote speech to a Wall Street Bank.
His appearance at the investment bank’s conference is raising eyebrows thanks to the astronomical fee he is commanding: a cool $400,000 (£310,000).
So just how much is Donald Trump’s predecessor looking to pocket post-presidency?
What with book deals, speaking gigs and a not-ungenerous pension, his earning potential is huge. When combined with the earnings of wife Michelle, also hugely in demand as a former First Lady, the numbers get even higher.
This is how much the Obamas are looking at, and how they could make their cash.
Barack Obama’s first speaking engagement since leaving the White House comes with a cheque for £310,000 – and there are sure to be more where that came from, particularly as Obama is known as a skilled rhetorician. To give a benchmark, CNN estimated that Bill and Hillary Clinton netted £118 million in speaking fees between them from 2001 to 2015.
But Jeremy Lee, founder of the UK’s leading agency for speakers JLA, said that Obama’s reputation as an ‘ineffectual’ president could put off the punters.
‘Whereas everyone wanted Clinton, I think a lot of organisations will think “do we want Obama?” he told Yahoo News UK.
‘There could be just as much interested in Michelle, especially on this side of the water, as she’s not affected by political shortcomings’.
Although she would command a lesser fee, this interest in Michelle means that the streets of the speaking circuit could be paved with gold for the Obamas.
Another revenue stream for the Obamas will be their book deals. The couple has already signed an agreement with Penguin Random House for two titles – one written by Barack and one written by Michelle. Estimates for the fee stand at roughly $65 million (£50 million), which should keep the family ticking over for a bit.
Though by no means the most lucrative of Obama’s incomings, the pensions for former presidents are not to be sniffed at, coming in at £160,000 per year, regularly adjusted to keep up with inflation. And this comes with a hefty benefits package to cover expenses such as staff and office space. For George W. Bush, these expenses peaked at £850,000.
Teaching and lecturing
Barack Obama is a former lecturer at the University of Chicago school of law, and could very well return to this avenue. It’s also been suggested that he could take up a teaching post at Harvard, where he studied law. Obama said in an interview in 2014: ‘I love teaching. I miss the classroom and engaging with students.’ He hasn’t said whether this option is currently on the table, a Harvard professor would be looking at a salary of around £150,000.