From first lady to U.S. senator to secretary of state to presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton has lived a life in the public eye that has included many roles and allowed her to build a sizable net worth. Her 2015 public presidential election filing revealed assets with a value ranging between $11 million and $53 million, and a Forbes analysis of the Clinton family's holdings suggests that their net worth is somewhere in the range of $45 million. Splitting the value of the shared assets in half suggests that Hillary Clinton has a net worth of roughly than $22.5 million.
How did Hillary Clinton build her net worth?
Hillary Clinton has been a visible public figure for decades. However, the great majority of her wealth was built within the past 15 years.
Clinton earned a law degree from Yale in 1973, before working as a political intern and a public defender. While at Yale, she met future president Bill Clinton, and the two forged a partnership that would go on to have tremendous influence on the political American landscape. In 1978, Bill won the Arkansas governor's race, and just 15 years later he and Hillary would begin the first of their eight years in the White House.
Famously, the Clintons left the White House in debt, owing to a range of legal expenses. Disclosures from the period suggest that the pair had as much as $1.8 million in assets and as much as $10.6 million in legal fees.
The end of Bill's presidency didn't cause the Clintons to shy away from political life. 2000 saw Hillary become the first female senator from New York. While the Clintons didn't record high-powered earnings in the year's of Bill's Arkansas governorship or presidential tenure, or generate sizable income from Hillary's term as senator from New York, the pair leveraged their powerful political brand to a decade-plus run of successful speaking engagements and book deals that saw them accumulate substantial wealth.
A Washington Post analysis of Clinton finances suggests that Bill Clinton was paid roughly $105 million for 542 speeches from 2001 to 2013, and Hillary has also been in high demand as a speaker in years in which she wasn't serving in government positions. Her speaking fees start in the $225,000 range, and CNN has reported that the couple earned $153 million in combined speaking fees from 2001 through the launch of Hillary's presidential campaign in April 2015.
The Clintons also garnered record-setting book deals, with Hillary Clinton reportedly earning an $8 million advance for her memoirs detailing her years as first lady and a $14 million advance for her 2013 memoir Hard Choices. Bill also struck gold on the autobiographical circuit, receiving a $15 million advance for his autobiography, My Life.
Why is Hillary Clinton's net worth controversial?
Hillary and Bill Clinton occupy the upper echelon of fame and political power, and their status as some of the most influential people in the past century guarantees both praise and criticism.
The compensation that Hillary Clinton has received for speaking engagements is a contentious issue in the 2016 presidential campaign, and political opponents have framed Hillary's speeches to Wall Street organizations and large companies as an indication that she has too many connections with big business.
The Clintons' personal net worth, as well as the holdings of the family's Bill, Hillary, and Chelsea Clinton Foundation charitable group, have also been the subject of considerable controversy, and some commentators have questioned why Bill and Hillary's combined net worth is only in the $40 million range after so many years of high-powered earnings. A Forbes analysis of the company's public filings and tax documents shows that the pair have recorded roughly $230 million in earnings since 2001.
The Clinton Foundation has raised over $2 billion for philanthropic causes. However, the funding of the organization has come under scrutiny because of donations from foreign governments and potential conflicts of interest during Hillary's terms as Secretary of State. Some have also raised questions about speaking fees that Bill Clinton received from companies and countries that had donated to the foundation.
What's next for Hillary's net worth?
If Hillary Clinton wins the 2016 election, becoming president would slow the growth of her net worth. Given the power and prestige that accompany the nation's highest office, Hillary is probably unconcerned with that possibility, but the presidential salary of $400,000 per year would represent a considerable drop-off from her earnings in recent years, even with the position's accompanying pension benefits.
However, if she wins the election and goes on to serve as America's first female president, she would command even greater sums for speeches and book deals and have the opportunity to significantly bolster her net worth upon leaving office.
Fun fact: Hillary Clinton appeared as a playable character in the 1993 basketball video game NBA Jam. Her onscreen avatar has a wicked jump shot. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.