U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren has generated a lot of followers -- and some controversy -- gearing up for a run at the White House in 2020.
The lawmaker from Massachusetts had hoped to be the Democratic party nominee next year, and is performing well in the national political polls. Before the primaries, Warren usually ranked at or near the top of the list of Democratic presidential candidates in 2019.
Warren has also battled accusations that she unfairly benefited from casting herself as a native American in previous jobs, most notably as a professor at Harvard University.
Whatever you think of Sen. Warren, there's no doubt she's also been successful as a 21st-century revenue generator, as she and her husband, Bruce Mann, have amassed a formidable financial fortune, placing her well within the 1% of highest-earning Americans.
What is Elizabeth Warren's net worth and how did she get from a classic middle class background to one of the wealthiest politicians in the U.S.?
Let's take a closer look.
What Is Elizabeth Warren's Net Worth?
Elizabeth Warren's net worth amounts to a consensus $8.75 million in 2019, a figure that is based on various financial statements, most notably the release of her federal tax returns -- 10 years in total through 2018.
In 2017, for example, Sen. Warren listed an annual growth income of $913,000 (combined with her husband, who is a Harvard University professor). $174,000 of that figure came from her job as a U.S. senator, while $430,000 came from her work as a top-selling author.
In 2018, she listed total household income of $905,742, with $324,687 listed as business income -- again, mostly from her book-writing earnings. Sen. Warren also listed her $175,000 Congressional earnings, along with her husband's $400,000 salary from Harvard University.
It's also worth noting that Warren puts her money where her mouth is on sharing the wealth -- a tenet she's pushing in her 2020 presidential run. In 2017, she and her husband donated $882,000 to charity, about 9% of her yearly earnings.
The Warrens donated $50,000 to charity in 2018.
Growing Up in a Middle Class Household
Elizabeth Warren was born June 22, 1949 in Oklahoma City, Okla.
Money was tight early on in Warren's life, as described on her campaign's web site.
"Elizabeth's dad sold fencing and carpeting, and ended up as a building maintenance man. Her mom stayed home with Elizabeth and her older brothers."
"When Elizabeth was twelve, her dad suffered a heart attack and was out of work for a long time. They lost the family station wagon, and were about an inch away from losing their home, when her mom got a minimum wage job answering phones at Sears. That job saved their home, and it saved their family."
Warren came from a military family, with three of her brothers serving in the U.S. military (her oldest brother flew combat missions in Vietnam). It was a close-knit family that placed a high value on education, a scenario that was tailor-made for the inquisitive young daughter.
Scraping money together, Warren was able to attend community college in Texas after marrying her high-school sweetheart. She took to higher education right away and began teaching local children who were struggling, while becoming a first-time mother, giving birth at age 22 to her daughter, Amelia.
Warren graduated college soon after, and also gave birth to her second child Alex. Balancing motherhood and a brand-new law practice, Warren worked her way up the industry chain of command, landing a prestigious job as a law professor at Harvard -- a job she got in part, critics say, after listing her nationality as "Native American."
That move, unremarkable at the time, would later cause major political problems for the up-and-coming law professor.
A New Role as U.S. Senator
Warren rose rapidly in the ranks of esteemed U.S. law professors, crafting a 30-year career in academia, specializing in economics and finance law. Increasingly, Warren spoke out on behalf of low-income and middle-income Americans who couldn't afford health care and who faced personal bankruptcy. That pulpit led Warren to a new career in politics and a move to Washington, D.C.
First came a stint as Chair of the Congressional Oversight Panel, and after that Warren helped create the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau during the Obama administration.
She later ran for office as a U.S. senator in the state of Massachusetts in 2012, besting incumbent Republican Scott Brown, running on a "populist and progressive" platform that "championed the little guy," as Warren noted often on the campaign trail.
In her first year as U.S. Senator, Warren was assigned by Democratic leadership to U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging and the prestigious Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee.
She served admirably in both roles, and easily won re-election as Senator in 2018, topping Republican challenger Geoff Diehl by a wide margin in a year when Democrats suffered significant losses, both in the White House and in the Senate.
Bolstered by her popularity among the progressive side of the Democratic party, Warren announced her candidacy for the U.S. presidency on Feb. 9, in a speech in Lawrence, Mass.
Controversy Amidst a Crusade for the Presidency
Warren spent the early portion of her presidential run apologizing for her claim of Native American ancestry, spotlighted by a DNA test that showed a statistically low level of Native American bloodlines, which at first Warren vigorously defended.
Yet after numerous calls for an apology, one notably from the Cherokee Nation (who deemed the ancestry claim as "inappropriate and wrong") Warren apologized in early 2019, and was able to largely put the issue behind her. That said, critics will be sure to resurrect the claim if Warren scores the Democratic presidential nomination in the summer of 2020.
For the short-term, though, Warren has proven to be an effective candidate, regularly placing in the top of the Democratic party polls, usually along with Sen. Kamala Harris of California and former Vice President Joe Biden in various state-by-state polls.
Warren seems to be faring well on the campaign trail as something of a policy wonk -- a moniker she wears proudly -- regularly releasing policy proposals on hot button issues like student loan debt (she wants free public school tuition), nationalized health care, and a plan to make large U.S. corporations pay more in taxes.
No doubt, those proposals score well with her progressive core Democratic party constituency, but it remains to be seen how Warren's embrace of a "liberal populist" campaign strategy will fare against President Donald Trump, another political populist, in the event of a head-to-head match-up in 2020.
Warren spent 2019 and early 2020 as a potential frontrunner for the Democratic nomination, but when states began their actual primaries she failed to come higher than 3rd place in any state, including a 3rd place finish in her home state of Massachusetts. On Thursday, Mar. 5, two days after resounding defeats in the Super Tuesday primaries, Warren announced that she would be dropping out of the race.
How the Warrens Spend Their Money
Elizabeth Warren spends so much time on the campaign trail, it's difficult to estimate exactly what her family spends their disposable cash on.
Still, there are some clues.
For instance, in 2018, the Warren's spent $46,000 on solar panels for their tony three-story Victorian home in Cambridge, which is valued in the neighborhood of $1.9 to $2.4 million dollars.
That home value range is slightly high for the Warren's neighborhood, where home lots are smaller and the homes are older -- which is typical for most residential properties in Cambridge, a historic, but old, city close to Boston.
The Warrens are more savers than spenders, with millions in income steered toward various long-term savings vehicles, including at least $2 million (combined with her husband) in a TIAA-CREF Traditional mutual fund, an annuity currently valued at between $500,000 and $1 million.
Warren is also known to dote on her family golden retriever, Bailey, and is a big fan of singer Dolly Parton, whose hit song "9 to 5" frequently plays at Warren's campaign stops.
In a word, Elizabeth Warren is more about politics these days than she is about spending her wealth. Is it a mindset that one day may help carry her to the White House? We'll see.