Her political future may be questionable, but with each public fracas, tea party keynote, and overseas speech, Sarah Palin's fortune is growing. From her book deal to her Fox News commentator gig, Palin is raking in payments that make it hard to remember the time when she earned a mere $125,000 a year as governor of Alaska.
The Associated Press calculated that her total assets for 2007 totaled $1.2 million. That was based on $230,000 in joint income, including Todd Palin's snowmobile winnings and the state oil royalties that the Palins, like all Alaskans, receive each year, plus a primary residence worth half a million, two vacation homes, and multiple watercraft.
If those assets didn't already classify her as one of the "elites" she makes her living deriding, her post-gubernatorial income certainly does. Palin's lawyer declined to comment and exact figures are nowhere to be found, but we've taken a stab at estimating the numbers. Palin's earnings can be broken down into three categories, some more quantifiable than others:
1. $1.25 million to $7 million for Going Rogue. Palin's memoir, in its twelfth week on the New York Times bestseller list, has dominated sales since its November release by Harper Collins. She acknowledged pocketing a $1.25 million advance sum in a financial disclosure forms while still in office, though industry insiders estimate the total payment was much higher, up to $7 million. If the book earns enough royalties to pay back her advance, she will reap additional ongoing payments.
2. $75,000 to $150,000 per speech. Palin signed on with the Washington Speaker's Bureau after resigning as governor and is making the speaking rounds. Though rumors at first circulated that groups were hesitant to book her due to her divisive reputation, she's given speeches in Pennsylvania, Alabama, Nashville, and, more recently, Florida. She snagged $150,000 for her debut speech in Hong Kong, as reported by Newsweek, but reports peg the going rate at $100,000 per gig -- which she is said to have earned for her Tea Party Convention speech last month -- minus a $25,000 discount for West Coast engagements.
3. $500,000 and counting for her Fox deal. In January, Palin struck a multiyear deal with Fox News to provide commentary on TV, web, and radio outlets. Terms were not disclosed. David Brunner, head of television talent agency DB & Associates, claims Fox has paid her about half a million dollars up front and is creating a recurring feature that would make Palin a more regular presence on its TV news shows. If this vehicle succeeds, he says, Palin's earnings will likely increase.
Palin and her family, of course, aren't the only ones benefiting from her celebrity. Her debut on The O'Reilly Factor sent Fox's ratings skyrocketing 22 percent, and her November interview with Oprah gave the talk show host her highest ratings in two years. Runner's World ran an infamous summer photo spread of the scantily clad then-governor, immediately garnering a 57 percent boost in weekly pageviews. When Newsweek ran one of these photos on its cover in November, the magazine's newsstand sales jumped by 9 percent.
Calculating how much the media earns off of Sarah Palin is a lot harder than the other way around, but it's also the much more interesting figure. Having surrendered her elected office, Palin is now almost entirely reliant upon her status as a public figure for her family's financial livelihood. Once (or if) her headline value begins to decline, she will have to rethink her strategy.