What Was General Colin Powell’s Net Worth and Why Did He Refuse to Run for President in 1996?

Colin Powell who served the United States as a general, secretary of state, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff has died at age 84 from complications of coronavirus (covid-19).

Powell was an extraordinary trailblazer from his childhood in the Bronx, New York City to his decorated military service and in service to Presidents Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush.

A voice many trusted, Powell considered running for president in the 1990s. Here’s why he decided against it, plus his net worth at the time of his death.

Retired General Colin Powell Gen. Colin Powell (Ret.) on stage during the Capital Concerts' "National Memorial Day Concert" in Washington, DC. The National Memorial Day Concert will be broadcast on May 30, 2021
Retired General Colin Powell at the Capital Concerts’ National Memorial Day Concert in Washington, DC on May 30, 2021 |
Paul Morigi/Getty Images for Capital Concerts

Powell died from complications of coronavirus

It was announced on Oct. 18 that Powell had died of complications from coronavirus. The retired US army general was 84.

His family made the announcement on Facebook writing, “General Colin L. Powell, former U.S. Secretary of State and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, passed away this morning due to complications from Covid-19. He was fully vaccinated. We want to thank the medical staff at Walter Reed National Medical Center for their caring treatment. We have lost a remarkable and loving husband, father, grandfather, and a great American.”

The former national security advisor to President Ronald Reagan and former secretary of state under President George W. Bush had been under treatment as well for multiple myeloma.

The current US Secretary of Defense, Retired General Lloyd Austin, tweeted in tribute to Powell, “It will be impossible to replace Gen. Colin Powell. He was a tremendous personal friend and mentor to me, and there’s a hole in my heart right now as I think about his loss. My thoughts and prayers today are with his family, and I want them to know I will miss him dearly.”

Television personality Piers Morgan tweeted of Powell, “General Colin Powell once showed me his personal ‘life rules’ chart that he took everywhere. It included: ‘Get mad, then get over it. Share credit. Remain calm. Be kind. Have a vision. Be demanding.’ They seem like pretty damn good life rules to me. What a great man.”

Powell’s net worth and why he declined a presidential run

Powell, whose net worth was $60 million at the time of his death, nearly added “presidential candidate” to his resume during the 1996 election. It seemed as good as done that the four-star general would throw himself fully into a presidential campaign against incumbent President Bill Clinton, but as The New York Times reported at that time, he had a change of heart.

He explained during a press conference that he simply did not have the “passion and commitment that, despite my every effort, I do not have for political life. Such a life requires a calling that I do not yet hear. For me to pretend otherwise would not be honest to myself, it would not be honest to the American people and I would break that bond of trust.” Powell noted that it wasn’t lost on him that “In one generation, we have moved from denying a Black man service at a lunch counter to elevating one to the highest military office in the nation and to being a serious contender for the Presidency. This is a magnificent country, and I am proud to be one of its sons.”

It wasn’t simply lack of “calling,” however, that kept Powell from the White House: it was also a concern for his family.

“It would require sacrifices and change in our life that would be difficult for us to make at this time,” Powell said. “The welfare of my family had to be uppermost in my mind.”

Powell wrote a book on leadership titled It Worked for Me: In Life and Leadership in 2014 and his memoir My American Journey in 2003. After his retirement from a life of public service, he took on speaking engagements and joined the boards of directors of various companies.

Former NYC mayor Rudy Giuliani tweeted today after learning of Powell’s death: “Colin Powell was a great American and a good friend. I was one of a small, but determined group, that urged him to run for President in 1996. What if???”

The general broke ranks in 2008

Powell was a lifelong Republican until earlier this year when he announced “I no longer consider myself a Republican” following the attack on the US Capitol in Jan. 2021. He broke ranks with the party, however, over a decade ago as well when Democratic candidate Barack Obama ran for president.

For the decorated general, who was named the first Black US secretary of state in 2001 and first Black chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in 1989, Obama’s candidacy for US president transcended party divisions. Many viewed Powell’s decision as a turning of his back on Republican nominee John McCain but as Powell told NBC’s Meet the Press in 2008, “I think [Obama] is a transformational figure, he is a new generation coming onto the world stage, onto the American stage, and for that reason, I’ll be voting for Sen. Barack Obama.”

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