Senator Bernie Sanders is a well known democratic socialist senator representing the state of Vermont. He became well known during the presidential election campaigns in 2016 when he came close to beating Hillary Clinton to the Democratic candidacy.
He is known for espousing views that are critical of the wealthy. He has gotten a lot of criticism too because his net worth has grown significantly over the past few years.
Although he is one of the poorest senators, Bernie Sanders Net Worth grew significantly in four years and in this piece, we take a look at how it did.
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Bernie Sanders Net Worth
What is Bernie Sanders Net Worth?
Sen. Bernie Sanders wanted to run for president in 2020 but he ended his bid for president when he was beaten to the ticket by Joe Biden, who went on to become president.
However, at one point, the Vermont senator was the Democratic frontrunner only failing to pick up momentum on Super Tuesday and in a few other key contests. That’s where former Vice President Joe Biden caught up with him and overtook him.
Bernie Sanders considers himself a Democratic socialist characterized by his harsh criticism of income inequality. It, therefore, doesn’t come as a surprise that he is one of the least wealthy members of Congress. He is not on the same level as some of the other public figures we’ve examined here before like Bernard Arnault, Mary Barra, and Mark Cuban.
Bernie earns a yearly salary of $174,000 as a senator and his total reported assets were less than $750,000 in 2015. However, this was before he ran for nomination and released his books because in both 2016 and 2017, Sanders brought home more than $1 million. That was mainly through royalties from his books.
By some estimates, the Vermont senator’s net worth is pegged at $2 million. One source that has shared that figure is the financial website The Street. However, his exact wealth is unknown because the senator has not gone public with the details.
That being said, we can estimate Sanders’ wealth from his known assets and incomes.
When Bernie Sanders dropped out of the 2020 presidential race, he was one of the least wealthy members of Congress.
That’s worth noting because most members of Congress are very rich. For example, it is estimated that Nancy Pelosi’s net worth is around $114.7 million dollars.
Back in 2015, the median net worth of a senator was $3.2 million. Therefore, if the Vermont senator is worth $2 million, he is still relatively poor.
The richest senator is Rick Scott from Florida with a net worth of more than $250 million. Mark Warner from Virginia, come second with a net worth upwards of $200 million. Even members of the House of Representatives are quite wealthy with Greg Glanforte coming in at $189 million.
I should point out that the precise net worth of lawmakers is tough to determine because the financial disclosure forms they fill don’t force them to submit exact values. They only share the value of their assets within a range.
Who is Bernie Sanders?
Bernard Sanders is an American politician and socialist activist who has been the junior United States senator from Vermont since 2007.
Before that, he served as the U.S. representative for the state’s at-large congressional district between 1991 and 2007. He is the longest-serving independent in U.S. congressional history but is known to have a close relationship with the Democratic Party. He has caucused with Senate and House Democrats during his tenure in Congress.
Although he is formally an independent, he is considered by many as the leader of the democratic socialist movement. Sanders has even sought the Democratic Party nomination for president of the United States. He came close both times (2016 and 2020) because his political stance is quite popular among democrats.
Before he became a member of Congress, he was mayor of Burlington, Vermont.
Bernard Sanders was born on September 8, 1941 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. His father, Elias Ben Yehuda Sanders, was a Polish immigrant who was born in Słopnice, a town in Austrian Galicia that was then part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire (now Poland).
Bernie’s father immigrated to the United States in 1921 to work as a paint salesman. His mother, Dorothy Sanders was born in New York City to Jewish immigrant parents from modern-day eastern Poland. They had roots in Russia.
Sanders was fascinated by politics at an early age. He is known for his quote about Hitler that goes: “A guy named Adolf Hitler won an election in 1932. He won an election, and 50 million people died as a result of that election in World War II, including six million Jews. So what I learned as a little kid is that politics is, in fact, very important.” That was personal to him because in the forties, people he’d have considered his relatives in Poland were murdered in the Holocaust by the Germans.
Bernie Sanders grew up in Brooklyn where he attended elementary school. He won a borough championship on the basketball team. His parents exposed him to his Jewish cultural roots because he attended Hebrew school in the afternoons, and celebrated his bar mitzvah.
He had an older brother called Larry who said that during when they were growing up, they never lacked for food or clothing. However, they were not rich enough to afford luxury and major purchases, “like curtains or a rug.”
Sanders attended James Madison High School, where he was captain of the track team. He finished third in the New York City indoor one-mile race. Economist Walter Block went to the same high school as him
He got political in high school and ran for the student body presidency. He lost his first election, finishing last of three candidates. His campaign focused on aiding Korean War orphans.
Although he lost that election, he remained active in the fundraising activities for Korean orphans. He even helped organize a charity basketball game. .
Sadly, his mom passed on when he was 19, and his dad two years later at the age of 57.
Sanders went to Brooklyn College but he only lasted one year in 1959–1960 before he decided to transfer to the University of Chicago. He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science in 1964. Whenever he’s asked about his college years, he often describes himself as a mediocre college student because he felt that the classroom was “boring and irrelevant.” He values the community and interactions he had and sees them as more important to his education.
Sanders’ Personal Life
Bernie has a son named Levi with a previous girlfriend. His current wife, Jane Sanders, had three children that became Bernie’s step-children when they were married in 1988.
Bernie Sanders’ Religion
Sanders was born into a Jewish family and he’s been quoted saying that he is proud to be Jewish. However, he has never publicly acknowledged Judaism as his religion, which isn’t surprising because Democrats have been known to believe in a separation of church and state.
Bernie Sanders The Activist
Bernie became an activist while attending college. He joined the Young People’s Socialist League and was active in the civil rights movement. He was a member of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC).
While he was chairman of the university chapter of CORE it merged with the university chapter of the SNCC. In 1962, he went to the University of Chicago administration building to protest George Wells Beadle’s (the president of the university) segregated campus housing policy. He and 32 other students entered the building and camped outside the president’s office and after weeks of sit-ins, the university gave in and formed a commission to investigate discrimination. The protests went on until the university ended racial segregation in private university housing in 1963.
Bernie Sanders attended the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, where Martin Luther King Jr. gave the “I Have a Dream” speech.
Besides his civil rights activism in the sixties and seventies, Bernie took part in several peace and antiwar movements while attending the University of Chicago. He was an active member of the Student Peace Union and even applied for conscientious objector status during the Vietnam War. Although Sanders was opposed to the war, he did not criticize the soldiers who fought in it. In fact, he has been a supporter of veterans’ benefits.
He was part of the reelection campaign of Leon Despres, a man who who was opposed to mayor Richard J. Daley’s Democratic Party machine. He was an organizer with the United Packinghouse Workers of America in Chicago. As a student, he read the works of past politicians like Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson, Karl Marx, Erich Fromm, and John Dewey.
When he graduated from college, he returned to New York City, where he worked as a psychiatric aide, Head Start teacher, and even as a carpenter. He lectured at Harvard University and Hamilton College in New York. He moved to Vermont in 1968 because he had been “captivated by rural life”. He worked as a carpenter, writer, and filmmaker and created and sold “radical film strips” and other educational materials to schools. He also wrote for The Vermont Freeman, an alternative publication. In the mid-seventies, he moved from the rural area to the more populous Chittenden County.
Bernie Sanders career in politics started in 1971 as a member of the Liberty Union Party, which traced its origins to the People’s Party and the anti-war movement. He vied for the governorship of Vermont in 1972 and 1976 as the Liberty Union candidate. He also took part in the special election for U.S. senator in 1972 and in the general election in 1974. He did not win elective seats in either of those elections.
The 1976 election was when the Liberty Union’s was at its strongest because he got enough votes to force the down-ballot races for lieutenant governor and secretary of state to be decided by the state legislature. That was because the vote total prevented either the Republican or Democratic candidate for those offices from accumulating a majority of votes. After that electioneering period, the party was drained of finances and energy and a year later, Bernie Sanders he and the Liberty Union candidate for attorney general, Nancy Kaufman, retired from the party.
After that, he went to work as a writer and as the director of the nonprofit American People’s Historical Society (APHS). He produced a 30-minute documentary about American labor leader Eugene V. Debs, who ran for president five times as the Socialist Party candidate.
In 1981, Bernie was elected mayor of Burlington as an independent. He got reelected three times. When he ran for U.S. House of Representatives in 1990 to represent Vermont’s at-large congressional district, he won. While at the House of Representatives, he co-founded the Congressional Progressive Caucus and went on to serve in the House for 16 years before being elected to the U.S. Senate in 2006. He alienated friends and family when he first entered the House with his spoof criticisms. He criticized politicians who voted for the rich versus the poor and publicly called out the Bank Reform Act. In 2002 he was an adamant supporter of Iraqi government policy as well as 9/11’s Patriot Act. In 2005 Rolling Stone described Sanders as a King of Amendments. He got reelected in 2012 and 2018.
In April 2005, Sanders began his campaign when Jim Jefford vowed to stay out of office. Sanders received backing and support from both Chuck Schumer and former Sen. Barack Obama, Howard Dean, and Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid. In 2012, he defeated Rich Tarrant by a big margin and won by 70%. Bernie was a senator who helped pass several bills into law, such as the 2013 Veterans’ Compensation Adjustment Program. Known as a defender of healthcare for all, he added a provision to the Affordable Care Act to provide $11 billion to rural community health centers. At the Senate, he chaired the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee and in 2021 became chair of the Senate Budget Committee.
Sanders ran for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2016 and 2020.
The 2016 Presidential Bid
In April 2015, Sanders announced he wanted to run for president for the Democratic Party in the 2016 election. The 2016 campaign created significant grassroots enthusiasm and enabled him to acquire funding from small-dollar donors in unprecedented moves that broke fundraising records. In January 2016, 1.3 million contributions to the organization were reported according to a report. In March that year, the campaign raised nearly $96M. Sanders beat eventual winner Hillary Clinton in 23 primaries and caucuses. Clinton was ultimately elected, and Bernie Sanders officially supported her on July 12, 2016.
The 2020 Presidential Bid
Sanders’ surprising 2016 campaign was a huge boost, with several of his policy propositions now mainstreamed in the debate. During the discussion surrounding the 2020 Democratic primary, Sanders was seen as the front-runner. In 2020, he had a strong showing in early primaries and caucuses and was the man to beat in a large field of Democratic candidates. He was now a public figure and continued his support for several causes, including raising the minimum wage. Many of his 2016 policies like health reform, environmental reforms, and free college admissions. remained a key element of his 2020 campaign. However, Joe Biden beat him to the candidacy after winning a series of decisive victories as the field narrowed.
How Much Money Did Sanders Raise?
For the 2020 political campaign, Sanders had no problem raising money seeing as in the first week of his campaign, he had already raised $10 million. He led with $34.5 million raised during the fourth quarter. In total, he had raised over $96 million in a few months after he announced he was running for president. He suffered a heart attack in October but still remained a popular candidate among socialist-leaning voters.
Mr. Sanders defines himself as a democratic socialist and has played a part in moving the Democratic Party further left, especially after his 2016 presidential campaign. He is a staunch advocate of social democratic and progressive policies, and is opposed to economic inequality and neoliberalism. He advocates for tuition-free tertiary education, paid parental leave, labor rights, universal and single-payer healthcare, and the Green New Deal, which is meant to create jobs while tackling climate change. He believes that the government should reduce military spending, put a greater emphasis on labor rights and environmental concerns when negotiating trade deals with other countries, and push for diplomacy and international cooperation. He is an admirer of elements of the Nordic model.
How Did Bernie Sanders Make His Money?
Bernie Sanders’ net worth isn’t clear but what we know is that he had not reached millionaire status before the 2016 presidential campaigns. Before 2016, Bernie and his wife had only made around $240,000 per year.
In 2017, that amount shot up to $1,131,925 before declining in 2018, to $561,293. His wife, Jane, earned about $160,000 per year as the President of Burlington College before retiring in 2011. Bernie reportedly has retirement savings of over $1 million.
Sanders made most of his money from his best-selling books, salary, real estate, and assorted investments.
Sen. Bernie Sanders raised $1.8 million for charity through the sale of merchandise inspired by the viral photo of him and his mittens on Inauguration Day. Those mittens were sold by an Etsy seller called Jen Ellis.
Best-selling books make up a significant portion of Bernie Sanders’s net worth and are the reason why his net worth jumped so quickly in the wake of his 2016 presidential bid. Bernie has published four books since then. It also helped that he got name recognition nationally after the election, which explains why his books have sold that many copies. He got a $795,000 book advance in 2016 and then in 2018, his books earned him $880,000 in royalties. His books include
Written soon after the election, this book documented Bernie’s campaign experiences and explained his manifesto. It instantly became a New York Times best-seller with a 19-stop book tour accompanying that.
“Bernie Sanders Guide to Political Revolution
This is a book for teenagers and it urges them to “fight for a progressive economic, environmental, racial, and social justice agenda that creates jobs, raises wages, protects the environment, and provides healthcare for all.”
Where We Go From Here
This book was published in 2018. It has details concerning what Bernie has been up to after 2016.
His books focus on democratic socialist ideologies where he calls for higher taxes on the rich. Besides his books, Bernie also makes money from speaking engagements.
Real Estate Investments
Besides his books and salary for being in the US Senate, Aside from his book royalties and salary, Bernie Sanders’s real estate portfolio (although jointly owned with his wife) forms a significant part of his net worth. He has a total of three homes in the United States.
In 2007, Bernie Sanders bought a 1-bedroom townhouse in D.C. for $489,000. Two years later, together with his wife, he bought a four-bedroom house in Chittenden County, Vermont for $405,000. They obtained a $324,000 mortgage for it, according to The Wall Street Journal. Then, he added a four-bedroom house in Lake Champlain (Vermont) for $575,000 in 2016.
Jane Sanders told the Burlington Free Press that to fund the purchase, she sold her share in her family’s longtime vacation home in Maine to her brother for $150,000 and borrowed some money from her retirement account. She and her husband also used an advance from a book he was writing.
In 2016, there was the leak of emails from Democrats in the DNC which showed that they were supporting Hillary Clinton. This led to a revolt among the party itself because Sanders had a strong supporter base. He fanned the flames by promoting such debates a lot through Twitter.
Bernie Sanders Quotes
Since Bernie is a democratic socialist, he is well known for his opinions on the middle class and the wealthy top 1%. There are a couple of notable quotes that showcase his viewpoints and strong beliefs:
“Democratic socialism means that we must create an economy that works for all, not just the very wealthy.”
“To be honest with you, I worry about the concentration of ownership in media, where you have a handful of media conglomerates largely controlling what we see, hear and read.”
“What being a socialist means is that you hold out a vision of a society where poverty is absolutely unnecessary, where international relations are not based on greed… but on cooperation… where human beings can own the means of production and work together rather than having to work as semi-slaves to other people who can hire and fire.”
“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.”
“The next time you hear me attacked as a socialist – like tomorrow – remember this: I don’t believe that government should take over the grocery store down the street or control the means of production. But I believe that the middle class and the working families who produce the wealth of America deserve a fair deal.”
How Does Bernie Spend His Money?
Sanders’s spending habits remain largely modest when compared with the spending habits of many millionaires. A new study has found that Sanders is paying back a $300,000 mortgage on a condo in Washington, D.C.
Sanders has been a staunch critic of most Republicans for years and is known for his strict political stance on wealth inequality. Therefore, it is not a surprise that he doesn’t own fancy cars or other lavish indulgences. There have been news reports that Bernie is wearing expensive clothes or accessories, like when Sanders reportedly wore a $700 suit in protests against riches. However, this is hard to confirm.
Speaking of donations, 100% of profits from one of his older books (Speech) are donated directly to charity. Bernie and his wife contributed about $36,3000 to charity in 2017 when they had a total income of $961,784. They donated $19,000 to charity the following year after making a total of $566,000 which represented 3.35% of their yearly income. Their typically donate to low-income organizations, educational entities, senior centers, and environmental and housing advocacy groups. Bernie doesn’t take tax deductions for these donations
Final Word on Bernie Sanders
Bernie Sanders is one of the most popular politicians in the country. Due to his political beliefs, many people often criticize the fact that Bernie Sanders net worth has jumped into the millions in the past couple of years. However, it appears that this did not happen with bad intentions because he made money off of a couple of best-selling books.
Sanders’ ideas on how to create a better world for everyone differ greatly from many people who consider themselves capitalists. He is often seen as a someone who’s calling for public, cooperative, or collective ownership of the means of production, but usually, that is an oversimplification. His detractors are opposed to the idea that the government is the best solution to problems and argue that it should empower individuals to take personal responsibility for their actions. They push the ideals of entrepreneurship, small government, high achievement, and solving global problems through personal responsibility and profit.
Bernie Sanders’ rise in popularity has been phenomenal. He has remained at the forefront of the headlines even after failing to secure the presidency, which many thought he would. Sanders has managed to stay in the spotlight with a strong donor base that supports his beliefs.
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