The 2016 presidential campaign won't be leaving our memories anytime soon -- in fact, it is probably forever burned into them (whether we like it or not). But, despite coming in a proverbial "third" in the race for the presidency, Bernie Sanders has managed to stay in the headlines. Whether it be taking to Twitter to disapprove of CEOs or persistently supporting the democratic party, Sanders has managed to keep in the public eye. And with the supporter base and funding from small donors to stay in the 2020 race for some time, he doesn't look to leave the public eye anytime soon.
But what is the political heavy-hitter (who has consistently espoused democratic-socialist policies) actually worth? And how did he accumulate his cash?
What is Bernie Sanders' Net Worth?
According to Celebrity Net Worth, as of 2017, Sanders is worth an estimated $2 million. Compared to the current president (who boasts a net worth of an astounding $3.10 billion), it's a bit meager. Still, the ultra-famous proponent of democratic socialism has had a pretty long career, spanning several different occupations. So how did Sanders make his millions?
Bernie Sanders' Salary
According to reports, Sanders made $1 million in 2016 -- $795,000 of which allegedly came from a book advance. Although the politician's salary from the Senate is rather modest compared to his other career endeavors (allegedly around $174,000 in 2016), his other investments and holdings bring his net worth up to the $2 million mark for last year.
But how did Sanders build his name?
Bernie Sanders' Career
Hailing from Brooklyn, New York, Sanders was born to two Polish immigrants in the 1940s. But Sanders first hit the political scene as mayor of Burlington, Vermont in the early 1980s, where he served from 1981 to 1989 -- a total of four terms. After his time serving in Burlington, Sanders set his sights a little higher and aimed for House of Representatives -- which he was able to secure, taking a seat in the House in 1991.
After serving in the House until 2007, Sanders was elected Senator of Vermont that year, and has held that position ever since. The senator also took on the role of Chairman of the Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs in 2013, passing legislation aimed at improving VA health care in 2014. Sanders also reportedly serves on the Environment and Public Works Committee, the Committee on Budget, and the Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions.
The senator has long been known for his outspoken views on the middle class, the wealthy top 1%, and war.
Sanders has also long been a self-proclaimed democratic socialist, which he's defined for himself in the past.
"I think [democratic socialism] means the government has got to play a very important role in making sure that as a right of citizenship, all of our people have health care; that as a right, all of our kids -- regardless of income -- have quality childcare; are able to go to college without going deeply into debt; that it means we do not allow large corporations and moneyed interests to destroy our environment; that we create a government in which it is not dominated by big-money interest," Sanders has said. "I mean, to me, it means democracy, frankly. That's all it means."
Sanders boasts the title of being the longest-serving independent in congressional history -- serving from 2007 on, winning the 2012 re-election by 71%.
But Sanders had higher aspirations than the Senate, declaring in April of 2015 that he would be running for the Democratic Party during the 2016 presidential election.
2016 Presidential Campaign
Sanders was something of a controversial democratic candidate in the 2016 election.
As a self-professed democratic socialist, Sanders ruffled some conservative feathers with his comments about the wealthy, among other hot topics. In fact, Sanders wrote some controversial comments about the wealthy (calling them oligarchs) in an op-ed for CNN back in 2016.
"They want more, more and more -- no matter what impact their efforts have on working people, the elderly, children, the sick and the poor," Sanders wrote. "Greed is their religion."
Still, Sanders championed many causes that a decent size of the voting populace -- over 2 million voters under 30 years old in caucuses and primaries, according to The Washington Post -- resonated with. The senator's platform rested on causes like LGBTQ rights, environmental protection, free college tuition, fairer taxes, sensible drug policies and more.
Although Sanders was beat out as the primary Democratic candidate by Hillary Clinton (who, in turn, lost to Republican candidate Donald Trump), Sanders has continued fighting for these policies in his ongoing Senate term.
2020 Presidential Campaign
Sanders's surprising 2016 campaign had staying power, and many of his policy proposals had become far more mainstream in discourse. As a result, when the 2020 Democratic primary was being discussed, Sanders was seen as a clear frontrunner. He had remained a public face and continued championing various causes, including a $15 minimum wage.
In February of 2019, Sanders became one of many to announce that they would be running for President in the Democratic primary. Much of his 2016 platform - healthcare reform, environmental reform, free college tuition, etc. - remained integral parts of his 2020 campaign.
On April 15th, 2019, Sanders released ten years of tax returns, confirming his status as a millionaire. Sanders attributed this to the success of his book, telling the New York Times, "I wrote a best-selling book. If you write a best-selling book, you can be a millionaire, too."
After a 2019 that saw Sanders rake in small donations, the first primary - the Iowa caucus - finally occurred on February 3, 2020. But results for the caucus were delayed after problems with an app caused major issues with the vote count. Partial results were eventually released to show Sanders leading the popular vote but in a tight race for delegates with Pete Buttigieg. With the majority of the votes counted, Sanders still had a lead in total votes and was gaining on Buttigieg for states delegates, but DNC Chair Tom Perez abruptly called for a recanvass.
The impassioned senator has had his share of controversies.
During the 2016 campaign, a leaked email scandal within the Democratic National Convention (DNC) showing support for candidate Clinton over Sanders caused an uproar within the party itself.
Nonetheless, according to NPR, support rallied around Sanders.
The Brooklyn native has done his share of instigating controversy, as well, often through the new facilitator of such debates -- good old Twitter. Earlier this year, the 76-year-old went after Jeff Bezos, who was recently proclaimed the richest man in the world, for speculation over the multi-billionaire's wealth. The socialist-leaning senator claimed Bezos was part of a "rigged economy."
Sanders didn't stop there -- he has (along with others like President Trump) repeatedly accused Amazon
of not paying taxes, according to an article on CNET.
"I remain deeply concerned about Amazon, an enormously profitable corporation, paying workers wages that are so low that they are forced to depend on federal programs like Medicaid, food stamps and public housing for survival," Sanders reportedly said. "At a time of exploding profits, I would hope that Amazon would pay everyone who works in your fulfillment centers a living wage."
The senator even tweeted out on Amazon Prime day in support of workers who chose to go on strike.
But apart from feuds with billionaires, Sanders has also received his own slack over several issues -- one being his debated appearance at the 2017 Women's Convention.
Several attendees were disgruntled by the senator's male appearance on the stage. One was Lily Herman, who took to Refinery29 to express her displeasure.
"This event is literally called the 'Women's Convention,'" Herman wrote for Refinery29. "So it'd be nice to see, you know, women in the spotlight." She also claimed that, "Bernie Sanders headlining yet another major liberally-skewed event makes me say something I've mentioned a million times before: There are grave issues if your entire movement is centered around a single person."
Still, others were not upset by the appearance, claiming he embodied the ideals of the Women's Convention, according to Vox.
Sanders has attracted a certain amount of criticism for some of his spending habits, as well -- whether fair or not -- given the senator's long-avowed aversion to the lavishly wealthy.
How Does Bernie Sanders Spend His Money?
While the senator has long been critical of the top 1%, Sanders allegedly dropped some $600,000 on a beach house in 2016 in Vermont's Lake Champlain Islands. Additionally, the senator attracted some controversy over several of his other purchases, including a jacket that prompted Newsweek to shoot out a headline stating "Socialist Bernie Sanders wears a $700 jacket while complaining about rich people."
Sanders and his wife Jane reportedly have a 30-year mortgage of $50,000-$100,000 for a condo in Washington, D.C., according to Politico. And, in 2014, Sanders and his wife allegedly gave some $8,350 to charity, according to CBS.
Bernie Sanders' Today
The 78-year-old seems to show no signs of slowing down - even after undergoing a heart procedure in late 2019. As a current senator, Sanders may be focused on the 2020 presidential nomination. But the senator has recently accumulated what Politico called a "growing string of losses" among fellow democrats in 2018 whom Sanders has backed or supported. Among others, the senator-approved candidates for mayor in Omaha and for House in Montana lost their races last year, with more of his picks losing in Kansas primaries and a Michigan governor race. In fact, Sanders' favorites' recent losses could call into question the strength of the platform on which the senator would run if he decided to chase the 2020 presidency, as some reports claim.
Still, Sanders remains optimistic.
Despite recent reports claiming Sanders and former Vice President Joe Biden rank as the top picks for the 2020 election (Sanders allegedly has a 48% approval rating, according to Newsweek), recent polls may suggest otherwise. In fact, a July 2018 Rasmussen poll revealed that 73% of Democrats want a younger 2020 candidate for the presidency. This could mean bad news for Biden and Sanders, who are both upward of 75.
Bernie Sanders' Taxes
During the presidential race in 2016, Sanders released his tax returns, which detailed what a Forbes writer deemed a "boring" report of the law-abiding senator's finances.
However, some noted that Sanders' Social Security deductions bordered on hypocritical, given the senator's position on the wealthy paying Social Security taxes on all their income: He only paid taxes on 85% of them in 2016.
Still, Sanders' taxes have seemed fairly normal and straightforward -- which surely is a good thing for Sanders, given his scrutiny of corporate and CEOs taxes in the past.