- Campaigning to to be US president is an expensive business, and the challenge has drawn candidates with vast fortunes.
- US presidential contenders derived their wealth from landowning in the early days of the nation, while recent candidates got rich from technology, oil and inheritance.
- The wealthiest presidential candidate in history was Ross Perot, who unsuccessfully stood as a third-party candidate in 1992 and 1996, and was worth $3.5 billion.
- Incumbent Donald Trump is the richest president in history, with his net worth estimated at $3 billion. He has claimed the figure is larger.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
When campaigning for the presidency, candidates will often try to convey a down-home image meant to appeal to ordinary Americans.
But building a political career and running for president is an expensive business, and those who take the challenge often have at their disposals fortunes beyond the reach of most people.
Below, Business Insider looks at some of the richest people ever to run for the White House.
1992, 1996: Ross Perot — technology and investments — $3.5 billion
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Ross Perot was a plain-speaking Texan, who in 1992 became the most popular third-party candidate to run for the presidency when he ran against George HW Bush.
Perot did not win, but became the most popular third-party candidate in almost a century. He ran again in 1996, and was beaten by Bill Clinton.
He is also the richest man ever to run for president, with his self-made fortune estimated at $3.5 billion when he ran in ’92.
Perot was one of the first tech billionaires, selling his company Electronic Data Systems to General Motors for $2.4 billion in 1984 and investing a fortune in municipal bonds.
At the time of his death in July, Forbes estimated his fortune at $4.1 billion.
2016, 2020: Donald Trump — real estate and hospitality — $3.5 billion
LIFE Picture Collection via Getty Images/Getty Images
According to Bloomberg, the 45th president’s net worth currently stands at about $3 billion, making him the richest presidential candidate ever to win office.
It’s increased slightly since he launched his bid in 2016, when Bloomberg put it at $2.9 billion.
Trump has often claimed a much higher net worth — as much as $7 billion — but has struggled to produce evidence that he really has that much money.
Most of the president’s fortune is tied up in his real estate portfolio, which comprises New York skyscrapers, golf resorts in Florida, Ireland and Scotland, and high-end hotels in cities across the world.
1789: George Washington — landowner — $525 million
Adjusted for inflation, the first president’s fortune would today stand at $525 million, according to a figure reported by Business Insider in 2017.
This made him the wealthiest person to win the presidency until Trump’s 2016 victory.
Washington’s fortune was bound to his vast estates in Mount Vernon, Virginia, which stretched across 8,000 acres in Virginia. He also owned 300 slaves.
In the early days of the presidency, only white, male property owners were allowed to vote. This meant that many of the first presidents were vastly wealthy landowners, with 3rd president Thomas Jefferson worth $236.8 million.
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