15 Wealthiest First Ladies of the United States
Some American first ladies were born into money, while others created vast fortunes through business ventures. They all one day married men who were destined to become the president of the United States. While not all were filthy rich, the wealthiest first ladies had a net worth far beyond what most Americans could ever imagine.
Below, we’ll take a look at the 15 wealthiest first ladies. Ten of the more recent ones have an individual net worth recorded separately from their husbands. For the last five, no net worth is readily available separate from that of their spouses. However, they’re worth mentioning because of the significant roles they played in growing and managing their fortunes.
10. Laura Bush
- Net worth: $10 million
Laura Bush, the wife of 43rd president of the U.S., George W. Bush, earned a Master’s degree and taught elementary school for several years. She went on to work as a librarian both at a local school and in the Houston Public Library system.
After being in the White House from 2001-2009, Bush, now 71, has written both children’s books and a memoir, Spoken From the Heart. She continues to work for causes like breast cancer awareness and education. She and George have a combined net worth of $50 million.
Next: This first lady dropped out of college.
9. Rosalynn Carter
- Net worth: $10 million
Rosalynn Carter, 90, came from humble beginnings. When she was young, she liked to draw buildings and dreamed of one day becoming an architect. After high school, she attended college but later dropped out due to lack of funds and obligations to her widowed mother.
When her husband, Jimmy Carter, was president from 1977-1981, Rosalynn advocated for women’s rights. Since leaving the White House, she has written her memoir and campaigned for various causes including mental health awareness. Jimmy and Rosalynn’s combined net worth is $17 million.
Next: This first lady famously battled addiction.
8. Betty Ford
- Net worth: $20 million
In her younger years, Betty Ford worked as a model, dance instructor, and performer. She later moved on to quite different pursuits, however. After personally battling alcohol and opioid addiction for years, she established the Betty Ford Center for drug treatment.
During her husband Gerald Ford’s presidency from 1974-77, she spoke out for women’s rights. She also established the drug treatment center during his presidency. She passed away in 2011 at age 93. The couple’s combined net worth was $27 million.
Next: This first lady purchased TV and radio stations.
7. Lady Bird Johnson
- Net worth: $20 million
Lady Bird Johnson was notably well-educated for her time. She bankrolled her husband Lyndon Johnson’s Congressional campaign and ran his office while he was in the Navy. She purchased a radio station and a TV channel which made the couple into millionaires.
As First Lady from 1963-1969, she interacted directly with Congress. A lifelong advocate for beautifying the nation’s cities and highways, she passed away at age 94 in 2007. Her and Lyndon’s combined net worth was $120 million.
Next: This first lady made a name for herself in Hollywood.
6. Nancy Reagan
- Net worth: $25 million
Nancy Reagan started her career as a Marshall Field’s sales clerk and a nurse’s aide. She went on to pursue acting in Hollywood in the 1950s. That’s when she married fellow actor Ronald Reagan.
During her husband’s presidency, Nancy founded the “Just Say No” drug awareness campaign and participated in the president’s diplomatic decisions. After the presidency, she continued to speak out on substance abuse. She died at 94 in 2016. Her combined net worth with Ronald was $38 million.
Next: This first lady wrote books and founded a hospital.
5. Barbara Bush
- Net worth: $25 million
Barbara Bush wrote a children’s book about her family and worked to restore the White House while her husband George H.W. Bush was president. After his presidency, she went on to found Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital and helped establish the Bush Legacy Collection.
Barbara helped campaign for her son George W. Bush when he ran for president. Before her death on April 17, 2018, she was America’s oldest living first lady. Her combined net worth with George was $50 million.
Next: This first lady has earned a lot of money since the White House.
4. Michelle Obama
- Net worth: $40 million
Prior to being first lady from 2009-2017, Michelle Obama held her share of jobs: lawyer, aide to Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley, director of a nonprofit organization, and dean at University of Chicago.
Since the White House, Obama has campaigned for young girls’ education issues, gender disparity issues, and lack of diversity in politics. She and husband Barack Obama received $60 million for the rights to their autobiographies, according to reports. Their combined net worth is $80 million.
Next: This first lady held plenty of other political positions.
3. Hillary Clinton
- Net worth: $45 million
Hillary Clinton, 70, has spent much of her career in politics. She was the first lady from 1993-2001. She also served as U.S. Secretary of State, U.S. Senator, and first lady of Arkansas. In addition, she ran for president in 2016.
Outside of politics, Clinton was a lawyer and served on the board of directors for Walmart and other corporations. She received an estimated $14 million advance for her book in 2014. She and husband Bill Clinton share a net worth of $75 million.
Next: This first lady was devoted to the arts.
2. Jackie Kennedy
- Net worth: $50 million
Jackie Kennedy earned a Bachelor’s degree in French literature and devoted much of her life to the arts. After college, she was a photographer for a Washington newspaper. As first lady from 1961-1963, she worked to restore the White House’s interior.
In her later years, Kennedy was an editor for Doubleday and headed efforts for cultural and architectural preservation. When she died in 1994, her estate was valued at $43.7 million.
Next: This first lady ran two lines of business.
1. Melania Trump
- Net worth: $50 million
Melania Trump, born in Slovenia, came to the U.S. to work as a model. She also sold her own jewelry and skincare products. As first lady, she’s delivered an anti-bullying message to schools.
While first lady, she’s also spoken at the Governor’s Ball and hosted the Easter Egg Roll. The combined net worth of Melania and her husband, President Donald Trump, is $3.15 billion.
Next: Here are some earlier first ladies whose net worths are only known when combined with their wealthy husbands.
5. Dolley Madison
- Combined net worth: $112 million
Dolley Madison was married to James Madison, who was president from 1809-1817. As the largest landowner in Orange County, Virginia, he owned 5,000 acres and the Montpelier estate. In addition, as president and Secretary of State, James made significant money.
After James passed away in 1836, Dolley often lived in poverty due to his having lost money from the financial collapse of their plantation. She was able to earn money by selling her late husband’s papers.
Next: This first lady helped establish the National Portrait Gallery.
4. Edith Roosevelt
- Combined net worth: $138 million
Edith Carrow married Theodore Roosevelt, who spent most of his adult life in public service. While in the White House from 1901-1909, Edith hosted social events and is said to have influenced the passing of legislation that created the National Portrait Gallery.
Theodore came from a wealthy family but lost most of his money due to bad investments. However, he was able to bounce back with real estate deals, and he now ranks as one of the 10 richest presidents. The couple’s 235-acre estate, Sagamore Hill, sits on the most valuable real estate on Long Island.
Next: This first lady passed away before the inauguration.
3. Rachel Jackson
- Combined net worth: $131 million
Sadly, Andrew Jackson’s wife Rachel Jackson passed away from a probable heart attack just days after he was elected president — and before his 1829 inauguration. However, she is still considered a first lady by the White House and National First Ladies’ Library.
Andrew was considered to be in touch with the average middle-class American. Yet he made considerable money in the military and quietly became one of the wealthiest presidents of his century. He owned 1,050 acres of prime real estate. While he came into much debt later in life, at the height of their fortune, the Jacksons were worth $131 million.
Next: This woman was also Virginia’s first lady.
2. Martha Jefferson
- Combined net worth: $234 million
Martha Jefferson passed away soon after childbirth in 1782, before seeing her husband Thomas Jefferson make it to the White House from 1801-1809. Like Rachel Jackson, she is still officially considered a first lady.
Thomas and Martha owned and lived on a 5,000-acre plantation in Virginia. He made considerable money in political positions before becoming president (although he was mired in debt toward the end of his life). At the height of their fortune, the couple was worth $212 million.
Next: The first first lady was a wealthy one.
1. Martha Washington
- Combined net worth: $580 million
Martha Washington brought great wealth to her marriage to George Washington, which enabled him to buy more land to add to his estate. In all, they had five farms on 8,000 acres run by more than 300 slaves.
When he became America’s first president in 1789, George initially refused his $2,500 salary, but he eventually began to collect it. Adjusted for inflation, that would be $560,000 today. The couple’s net worth was a whopping $580 million.
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