The life of Chelsea Clinton has been quite a busy one — with her going from presidential first kid to mother, wife, philanthropist, and empowered women’s rights advocate. While she’s often spoken of in relation to her parents, especially after campaigning for her mom in the 2016 election, Clinton has made a name for herself outside of her famous mom and dad. One day soon, Chelsea Clinton’s name might eclipse the names Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton. She’s even hinted at a possible future in politics for herself.
Clinton never really left the spotlight after her days of living in the White House, and we don’t expect her to any time soon. As the daughter of a former president, she would have already been famous, but she has also established a successful career. Clinton has quite a hefty personal fortune amassed through a variety of jobs. If you’re wondering just how much money the former president’s daughter makes, you’re not alone; this is how she earns her salary and how much she earns.
She grew up living a life of luxury
Clinton has been living a pretty cushy lifestyle from day one. Her dad hadn’t been elected president yet when she was born, but he was the governor of Arkansas at the time. This means that Clinton’s very first home was the governor’s mansion. The three-story home sits on 8.5 acres of land and is filled with historical artifacts including an 18th century grandfather clock, an antique sideboard, and an 18th century French chandelier hanging in the foyer. Talk about a posh residence!
While the house didn’t belong to the Clintons outright, spending her early years in the governor’s mansion prepared Clinton for the luxurious home where she would spend her adolescence: the White House. Her father was elected to the office when Clinton was just 12 years old, meaning that she not only grew up in the limelight, but she also lived a pretty comfortable life.
Working hard for her credentials
It would be easy to say that Clinton’s success is all thanks to her parents. While her famous last name no doubt opened doors for her, Clinton hasn’t relied on nepotism to carry her through life. Clinton is highly intelligent and hasn’t been afraid to work hard for her success. The former president’s daughter has been focused since childhood, when her teachers labeled her as "precocious." She started studying ballet at the age of four, learned how to invest in the stock market when she was 11, and skipped the third grade. Her stellar high school record gained her admission to the elite Stanford University, where she initially planned to become a doctor. She eventually changed her major from pre-med to history, and then earned a master’s degree in international relations from Oxford University.
After a few years in the workforce, Clinton went back to school to obtain another Oxford degree. In 2014, she graduated with a Ph.D. in international relations from the prestigious institution at the age of 34. Famous parents aside, such an impressive resume under her belt makes Clinton eminently qualified for any number of high-paying jobs.
Did she really make millions working for her parents?
In spite of the fact that Clinton has worked incredibly hard for her career, rumors persist that her parents are responsible for her fortune. One rumor was so widespread that fact-checking website Snopes investigated it. According to the rumor, after finishing her education, she was hired by her parents who paid her $900,000 a year.
How much truth was there to the allegation? Absolutely none. While the well-circulated rumor did rely on credible news sources in order to arrive at the hefty sum given as her salary, the rumor embellished the truth quite a bit. It is true that Clinton was making a pretty big chunk of change at the time that the rumor was going around, but her real salary was nowhere near the almost million dollar salary that the gossip claimed. The money also didn’t come from her parents, but was earned from other sources.
After graduation, she worked for a consulting firm
Chelsea Clinton entered the workforce straight out of graduate school, landing a gig with consulting firm McKinsey after completing her master’s degree at London’s prestigious Oxford University, as reported by The Telegraph in 2014. According to the publication, Clinton’s starting salary for the job would have been about £40,000 (more than $50,000), but the Observer claimed that Clinton was actually raking in a solid $120,000 her first year with the company.
Clinton reportedly stayed with the McKinsey firm for three years, first in public health practice and then in financial services and technology practice as a manager. The job was apparently taxing, and Clinton eventually parted ways with the firm. "Was I going to continue to work 100 hours a week and invest time there and energy?" she told The Telegraph of her decision to leave. "Or was I going to go do something else?"
Her next job was at a hedge fund
After parting ways with McKinsey, Chelsea Clinton entered the hedge fund world. She joined Avenue Capital Group in 2006 at the age of 26. Even before starting her job with the hedge fund, the Clinton family already had ties with Avenue Capital. Its founders, Marc Lasry and Sonia Gardener, were major contributors to Hillary Clinton’s Senate re-election campaign.
While Clinton’s exact salary at Avenue Capital isn’t publicly known, the Intelligencer estimated her starting salary when her new job was announced. According to the publication, as a newcomer to hedge funds with limited experience, Clinton would have been expected to make a starting annual salary of $100,000. While that seems like a pay cut from the estimated $120,000 she started with at her previous job, hedge funds are known for paying out substantial bonuses depending on how the fund does. Chelsea’s first-year bonus could have been as much as $150,000, more than doubling her salary.
Working as a special correspondent for NBC
In 2011, Clinton joined NBC News in what was a very well-paid position. As a special correspondent, she was reported to be making a jaw-dropping $600,000 per year — more than many full-time correspondents were earning (via Vanity Fair‘s The Hive). Official sources were reluctant to comment on the details of Clinton’s employment at the time. "We don’t comment on details of existing contracts," a network spokesperson told Politico. "NBC News continues to enjoy a wonderful working relationship with Chelsea, and we are proud of her work."
The job, along with the hefty salary, was criticized by many who thought that Clinton didn’t have the journalistic skills to justify her position. The Los Angeles Times speculated that NBC was trying to "curry favor" with the Clintons, while the Intelligencer criticized NBC for paying Clinton more than half a million per year "to do nothing, basically." While working for NBC wasn’t a full-time gig, it was a real job. During her time with the broadcasting company, Clinton worked on assignments for Rock Center with Brian Williams, appearing in four episodes from 2011 to 2013, and also contributed to NBC’s Nightly News. Clinton left the position in 2014.
Vice chair of the Clinton Foundation
Since 2011, Clinton has also served as the vice chair of her family’s organization, the Clinton Foundation. While she presumably doesn’t draw a salary for her work with the philanthropic organization, its mission is very important to her. Clinton told The Telegraph that she wants to focus on issues that have "existed too long in the shadows, that historically have made people uncomfortable."
The foundation works globally, focusing on many issues including global warming, providing food and healthcare for people living in poverty, and children’s health. She aims to prove those who claim she is profiting off her parents’ success wrong. "I will just always work harder [than anybody else] and hopefully perform better," she said. "And hopefully, over time, I pre-empt and erase whatever expectations people have of me not having a good work ethic, or not being smart, or not being motivated."
In 2019, Clinton announced that she and her father plan to launch a podcast in connection with the foundation called Why Am I Telling You This?
She’s worked hard to establish her identity
Growing up in the first family isn’t easy. For most of her early life, Clinton was viewed as part of a politician’s family rather than being seen as an individual. It’s not surprising, then, that Clinton has spent years separating her identity from that of her parents. Determined to succeed on her own merit, she has shown an extraordinary drive. Her role with the Clinton Foundation, while dear to her heart, is also something that is a source of internal conflict.
"It is frustrating, because who wants to grow up and follow their parents?" she told The Telegraph. "I’ve tried really hard to care about things that were very different from my parents. I was curious if I could care about [money] on some fundamental level, and I couldn’t. That wasn’t the metric of success I wanted in my life. I’ve talked about this to my friends who are doctors and whose parents are doctors, or who are lawyers and their parents are lawyers. It’s a funny thing to realize I feel called to this work both as a daughter and also as someone who believes I have contributions to make."
Joining the board of IAC
One of Clinton’s most lucrative positions to date pays her hundreds of thousands of dollars for just a handful of meetings. She sits on the boards of two companies, IAC and Expedia, both of which are run by family friend Barry Diller, a billionaire who donated over $400,000 to Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign back in 2016, according to the Daily Mail. The former president’s daughter has reportedly been on the board of IAC since 2011 and, in 2018, made $299,957 in combined stock and cash for attending just six meetings. According to SEC filings, Clinton owns more than $6 million in stock in the company.
Clinton also made $302,880 for attending a couple of Expedia board meetings. While she owns less stock in that company than in IAC, her total Expedia stocks are worth over $400,000, considerably bolstering her net worth. Earning hundreds of thousands of dollars each year for attending a few board meetings isn’t a bad way to make a living.
She’s a bestselling author
Like both her mother and her father, Clinton has established herself as an author. The Clintons are so prolific that the future might very well view them as a literary dynasty rather than as a political dynasty. Bill Clinton is a bestselling author, as is Hillary Clinton, and their only child has followed in their footsteps. Clinton has written several popular children’s books and has also co-authored a book on global health.
Her She Persisted series carries a strong feminist message, and is centered on the lives of famous women. She explained to The Guardian that she wants to highlight the achievements of women, especially as most popular children’s books are about boys. "Even when the characters are animals, they’re someone’s sister or they’re someone’s mother, or they’re someone’s partner or friend. So from the earliest ages we tell our children that boys are more significant," she said. "It’s so often the case that our stories are centered around men, told by men, the heroes are men — and so I think it’s hugely important that we make women more visible in the stories in our history that have always existed, but also to imagine and create more female-centred stories moving forward."
Her husband is worth millions
With an estimated net worth of $15 million, Clinton is rich in her own right, but she also married someone with a fortune of his own. Her husband, Marc Mezvinsky, also has an estimated net worth of $15 million. Mezvinsky grew up in a well-off family and, like his wife, attended Stanford. The Mezvinsky and Clinton families have been friends since the ’90s, which is how the two originally met.
Mezvinsky is an investment banker who has worked for Goldman Sachs as well as hedge fund 3G Capital. Clinton’s husband reportedly earns an estimated $2 million a year which means that, even if she weren’t already drawing in a large salary, the couple would still be doing pretty well for themselves. The couple also has some substantial assets, including a $10.5 million apartment in New York City (via Vanity Fair). The apartment boasts 5,000 square feet and is an upgrade from their previous home, which they bought for the (comparatively) cheap sum of $4 million.
Her lavish wedding cost a pretty penny
What do you give the person who has everything? A really, really expensive wedding. The Clinton-Mezvinsky wedding was one for the books and cost a small fortune. The elegant affair, which took place in 2010, caused a media frenzy. Clinton’s wedding dress alone, a custom-made Vera Wang gown, cost more than many weddings at an estimated $25,000, according to The Knot. Throw in a 500-pound wedding cake with 9 tiers standing at a total of 4 feet (estimated at a minimum of $10,000), and an 18-piece big band orchestra, and you’re looking at quite an hefty price tag. The wedding took place at Astor Courts estate in Rhinebeck, N.Y., where receptions can cost up to $200,000, as reported by ABC News. The total cost of the event was estimated to clock in at a whopping $2 million.
That’s a lot of money, even for people as well off as the Clintons, but the family reportedly didn’t exactly foot the entire bill themselves. In 2016, emails released by WikiLeaks indicated that the Clinton Foundation paid for at least part of the lavish wedding, according to the Independent, but that claim hasn’t been confirmed.
She’ll likely inherit a big chunk of change
As the only child of Bill and Hillary Clinton, Chelsea Clinton stands to add to her already massive personal net worth when she one day inherits her parents’ wealth. The Clintons famously left the White House without any money, and Hillary said that they didn’t go in with much, either. "We had no money when we got there, and we struggled to piece together the resources for mortgages for houses, for Chelsea’s education," she told ABC (via Politifact). "It was not easy."
In the years that followed, though, the Clintons managed to amass a large personal fortune through speaking events and book sales. According to a 2016 Forbes analysis of their tax returns, the Clintons had made over $240 million since leaving the White House. While most of the money was made by the former president through book sales, they no doubt added to their sizable nest egg the following year when Hillary’s book What Happened broke sales records.
Motherhood is her most important job
While she may be busy with her career, Chelsea Clinton’s most important job is being a mother. With two children at home and one more on the way, as of this writing, the former first daughter is busy with her growing family. "Marc and I are like, ‘What did we do before we were parents?’" Clinton told Elle after the birth of her first child. "My whole life is reoriented around my daughter in the most blessed sense. I now understand — this is something else that Marc and I talk about all the time — all of the enthusiastic, bombastically spectacular, wonderful things people say about their children…"
Being a mother might keep her busy, but it has also reinforced Clinton’s commitment to gender equality. "I didn’t know that I could care any more about gender equality until I became a mom, and until I became the mother of a daughter," she told Sky News. "What had been such an imperative to me… became all that more visceral, because now it’s not just all girls that I’m fighting for, it’s also [my daughter] Charlotte."