More than 14 months after leaving office – and while still contesting the 2020 election – former US President Donald Trump has seen his net worth soar to US$3 billion ($3.9 billion), according to brand new numbers from Forbes.
When Mr Trump ran for president in 2016, his net worth sat at US$4.5 billion ($5.9 billion).
That number declined steadily during his time in office, all the way down to US$2.1 billion ($2.7 billion) in 2020. His wealth rose marginally, to US$2.4 billion ($3.1 billion), in 2021, his first year out of office.
What accounts for Mr Trump’s wealth surge?
According to Forbes, it was the launch of Truth Social, the social media company being cast as a conservative alternative to Twitter.
“Donald Trump, master of reinvention, has a new title: tech entrepreneur. It’s a stretch for the 75-year-old, who doesn’t even use email, preferring instead to scrawl notes in marker,” Forbes’ Dan Alexander wrote.
“But he doesn’t mind jumping into ventures in which he has little previous experience—and this gig should prove far more lucrative than the presidency. In fact, it has already boosted his net worth by $430 million.”
What’s remarkable about that fact is that, by almost any independent measure, Truth Social is struggling.
Two top executives left their posts recently, according to Reuters, and the app has dropped rapidly in terms of downloads from the Apple app store. (CNN has been waiting for six weeks to be admitted to the app.)
None of that appears to matter to investors.
Nor does the fact, apparently, that Digital World Acquisition Corp., the special purpose acquisition company that is set to take Truth Social public, is currently labouring under an investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Shares in the stock have jumped from US$10 to more than US$56 as of the market close on Monday.
Mr Trump has spent much of his life – and his presidency – exaggerating his wealth.
In a “Summary of Net Worth as of June 30, 2014” that Mr Trump released when he announced his presidential bid in 2015, Mr Trump claimed to be worth US$8.7 billion ($11.4 billion).
“I’m really rich,” Mr Trump said at his campaign announcement that year.
“I have total net worth of $8.73 billion. I’m not doing that to brag. I’m doing that to show that’s the kind of thinking our country needs.
“A month after that initial assessment, the Trump campaign put out a release touting that his net worth had already risen substantially.
“Real estate values in New York City, San Francisco, Miami and many other places where he owns property have gone up considerably during this period of time,” the release claimed.
“His debt is a very small percentage of value, and at very low interest rates. As of this date, Mr Trump’s net worth is in excess of TEN BILLION DOLLARS.” (The ALL CAPS were in the original release because, well, it’s Mr Trump.)
Mr Trump’s actual net worth in 2015 was US$4.1 billion ($5.4 billion), according to Forbes.
Mr Trump also spent his presidency bemoaning the fact that being president was costing him money.
“I said to one of my friends, a very wealthy friend, I said, ‘You know, I’ll bet you it cost me $2 or 3 billion and it’s worth every penny of it,'” Mr Trump told Fox News in 2018.
“I don’t need the money and it’s worth every penny because I’m doing so much for the country.”
Kim Kardashian cracks billionaires list
Pinpointing Mr Trump’s exact wealth is extremely difficult due, in large part, to the fact that he refused to release any of his tax returns either while he was running for president or during his four years in office.
Mr Trump insisted that tax returns did a poor job of cataloguing a person’s wealth, which is, um, not true.
Mr Trump’s recent financial gains come at a fortuitous time for him.
The New York Times reported in 2020 that Mr Trump was personally responsible for US$421 million ($555 million) in loans.
Last month, Mr Trump refinanced his mortgage on Trump Tower with a US$100 million ($131 million) loan.
According to Forbes, Mr Trump is now the 1012th richest person in the world.