The White House doors may have closed on former President Barack Obama’s presidency, but for him and his wife Michelle, the path to lucrative new book deals and paid speeches is wide open.
The Obamas recently hired top-dollar attorneys Robert Barnett and Deneen Howell to handle their book contracts, and a high-profile public relations agency – known for repping the Clintons and Mia Farrow – to coordinate speaking appearances. The Obamas haven't yet set book-release dates or announced any scheduled speeches.
The Harry Walker Agency, which exclusively represents former President Bill Clinton, former Secretary-General of the United Nations Kofi Annan, former Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and former vice presidents Dick Cheney and Al Gore, will handle the Obamas’ post-White House speeches, according to Obama spokesman Kevin Lewis.
In the private sector, the former president stands to earn more than half of his $400K annual presidential salary – per speech, Peter Shankman, founder and CEO of social media, marketing and PR strategy firm The Geek Factory, told FOX Business.
“No doubt [former President Obama’s] first speech could easily [command] $250k at minimum,” Shankman, whose firm’s clients have included American Express, Walt Disney World and The U.S. Department of Defense, said.
It’s not only the former president who will be fetching the big bucks. The former first lady will likely rake in an equal share, Shankman said.
“Michelle will also see numbers around [$250K per speech] for the first year as well,” he said. “Those fees probably won't drop anytime soon, when you stop and think about it, especially if Obama continues to be vocal, as he [has] said he would.”
These figures would be comparable to what former President Bill Clinton makes per speech, which was just shy of $250K in 2011, according to Hillary Clinton’s filings for the calendar year. Over the course of 54 speeches he made a total of $13,434,000 that year alone. Mrs. Clinton makes slightly less on average, at $235K a pop. From 2001 until Hillary Clinton launched her presidential campaign, the pair earned $153 million combined in speaking fees, according to CNN.
On the other hand, former President George W. Bush makes between $100K-$175K per appearance, according to a 2015 analysis by Politico.
Another source of income for the Obamas will be book deals. Mr. Obama has already penned a number of books including, “Dreams From My Father,” “The Audacity of Hope” and “Of Thee I Sing.” These three books have earned him more than $10 million, according to financial disclosures.
While Bill Clinton received an advance of $15 million for his highly anticipated 2004 autobiography “My Life,” the world’s highest advance fee at the time, it is projected that the Obamas will dwarf Clinton with contracts that could amount to $20 million to $45 million, according to a report by the New York Times.
Mr. Obama will also receive a pension from the White House, as is the standard with every former president. This is expected to be about $207K per year.
While in office, each U.S. president earns a salary of $400,000. President Trump, who is the richest president to serve the country, has said he will refuse the salary, and will instead accept the legal minimum of $1 per year.