Senator Bernie Sanders is by no means the wealthiest person to enter the 2020 Democratic primary race; his net worth is minuscule compared to that of billionaires Michael Bloomberg and Tom Steyer. But given the democratic socialist’s laser-like focus on the sway that “millionaires and billionaires” hold over the country, and his call for a tax on the nation’s richest citizens, Sanders’s own wealth has become something of a flashpoint, with some accusing the politician of hypocrisy.
Here, what Sanders is worth, and how he amassed his considerable assets.
Recent estimates place Bernie Sanders’s net worth just under $2 million.
Last summer, Forbes placed Sanders’s worth at $2.5 million, while Politico reported it was a little under $2 million. The Center for Responsive Politics, which reports a minimum and maximum estimate for each candidate, calculates that the real figure is likely between $729,030 and $1,837,701.
Most of his wealth has been recently acquired.
The lawmaker grew up in a lower-middle-class household in Brooklyn’s Flatbush neighborhood, the child of a Polish immigrant who worked as a paint salesman, and a stay-at-home mother.
This upbringing helped form Sanders’s worldview, as he himself has often said. His brother Larry explained to NPR in 2015 that his parents often fought about money. “They didn’t really know whether they’d have the rent the following month,” Larry said, later adding, “And I think what Bernard and I took from that is that financial problems are never just financial problems. They enter into people’s lives in very deep and personal levels.”
Throughout his life, Sanders was able to climb from the lower middle to upper middle class, and eventually earn his millionaire status. He worked a multitude of different jobs, from preschool teacher to carpenter, before being elected mayor of Burlington, Vermont in 1981. From there, he was elected to the House in 1990, and to the Senate in 2006.
During his 2016 campaign, available data at the time still had Sanders as the 19th-poorest member of congress, with a maximum net worth of $682,518 and a minimum of $211,039.
The bulk of his wealth comes from book deals and sales.
Sanders published three hit books in three years, from 2016 to 2018: Our Revolution: A Future to Believe In, Bernie Sanders Guide to Political Revolution, and finally Where We Go From Here: Two Years in the Resistance. He made about $850,000 in both 2016 and 2017 in book royalties, and over $390,000 in 2018, per CNBC.
On top of that, Sanders has been earning his Senate salary—some $174,000 a year—and is entitled to two pensions, one from the federal government and another from the city of Burlington, per Forbes.
His most valuable assets are his three homes.
Sanders and his wife, Jane O’Meara Sanders, own three houses: a four-bedroom, two-and-a-half bath home in Burlington, which they bought for $405,000 in 2009; a row house in D.C., which they picked up for $489,000 in 2007; and a vacation home north of Burlington, which the Sanders bought for $575,000 in cash, shortly after the Senator ended his 2016 campaign. They currently have one mortgage, estimated at $250,001 to $500,000, per CNBC.
Although these figures may appear high, it’s not at all unusual for a member of congress to be worth millions.
Sanders’s wealth, though substantial, hardly makes him rich by congress’s standards. Several Capitol Hill lawmakers have net worths in excess of $100 million; Sanders isn’t even among the top 100 most affluent in congress.
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