In 2021, Mr Trump dropped to No 1,299 on Forbes’ “World’s Billionaires” list, down from No 1,001 in 2020. According to Forbes, the former president had lost nearly a billion dollars over the course of his presidency, from $3.5 billion in 2017 to $2.4 billion this year.
Conservative pastor Franklin Graham somehow managed to spin this as a positive story for the former president, arguing that his plummeting net worth reflected his selflessness.
“Donald Trump became president not to make money or to put his hand in the till, but to do his best to preserve the great things about this nation for future generations,” Mr Graham wrote on Facebook in April 2021. “He put America first, not his own interests.”
That post garnered more than 186,000 shares, 183,000 comments, and 967,000 likes and other reactions. According to the social media tracker CrowdTangle, that makes it the most popular news-related Facebook post of 2021.
“Yes yes and yes Amen,” one reader commented.
“Amen,” another wrote. “He is the best and smartnes [sic] president of all.”
Others denounced Mr Trump and called for him to be prosecuted, all of which added to the post’s comment count.
When Mr Trump became president, he refused to divest from his own businesses. Critics lambasted the decision as unethical and self-serving, but it may actually have diminished his fortune. After he left office, Forbes calculated that if the former president had simply liquidated his assets and invested the cash in the S&P 500, he would be $1.6 billion richer today.
Instead, Mr Trump held onto his assets throughout his presidency, even as he claimed to remove himself from any active role in leading his businesses.
Meanwhile, many of his properties hemorrhaged money. His licensing business – by which he sells the Trump brand name – particularly suffered as Mr Trump’s polarizing presidency and the Capitol riot alienated many Americans.
“He has done permanent damage to the Trump name and image, at least for two or three decades,” real estate analyst Kevin Brown told Forbes.