Trump’s Tumbling Billionaire Ranking Made For Facebook’s Most Shared News Post In 2021


Conservative pastor Franklin Graham’s take on former President Donald Trump falling nearly 300 spots on Forbes‘ billionaire list was the most popular news-related U.S. Facebook link post in 2021, amid languishing property values for the ex-president and debts topping $1 billion.

Key Facts

Graham’s April 9 post, which shared a USA Today story about the updated Forbes ranking, attracted more than 967,000 reactions, 183,000 comments and 186,000 shares, according to data compiled by the social media tracking firm CrowdTangle.

Trump came in at No. 1,299 on the “World’s Billionaires 2021” list, released April 6, well below the No. 1,001 position he held in the 2020 edition.

Graham, who’s among the conservative figures that regularly generate the top news-related posts on Facebook, claimed Trump’s position dropped because “he put America first, not his own interests,” but Trump would have likely been much richer if he’d chosen not to keep his business holdings while in office.

An April Forbes estimate found if Trump had sold all his assets in January 2017, paid full capital gains taxes on the sales and put the money in a conflict-free fund tracking the S&P 500, his net worth would be $1.6 billion higher.

Big Number

$2.5 billion. That’s Trump’s estimated net worth, leaving him about $400 million short of making the Forbes 400 list of wealthiest Americans. Trump fell off the Forbes 400 in 2021 after making the list for 25 straight years, peaking as the 71st richest American in 2003.

Surprising Fact

Trump’s wealth has grown from a recent low in April 2020, when his estimated net worth dipped to $2.1 billion as the first wave of the Covid-19 pandemic took hold in the United States. But his fortune’s recovery hasn’t kept pace with many other billionaires, leading to his decline in the rankings. A Forbes estimate found U.S. billionaires got $1.2 trillion richer between the start of 2020 and April 2021.

Key Background

Trump’s heavy investment in big-city properties has been a major contributor to his struggling fortune. His hotel brand, Trump National Doral golf course and two properties in Manhattan lost a combined $735 million in net value during his presidency, Forbes estimates. In contrast, his two most successful properties during that time, his Mar-a-Lago estate and a 30% stake in a San Francisco office building, combined to increase by $177 million in net value. His business debts soared to an estimated $1.3 billion as of October—up nearly $200 million from when he left office—though the increase is partly due to a loan taken out against the San Francisco tower that’s provided the ex-president with more liquidity, which could be helpful in paying other loans that are coming due. 


Graham also held the second most popular news-related Facebook link post of the year, sharing an ABC News story about Trump being acquitted after his second impeachment. Conservative figures like Graham and Ben Shapiro typically dominate daily and weekly rankings of the most popular link posts, almost always involving news stories. However, the top six link posts for the year as a whole all came from UNICEF, largely providing information about the Covid pandemic response in developing countries. 

Further Reading

Donald Trump Tumbles Nearly 300 Spots In Billionaire Ranks (Forbes)

Donald Trump Falls Off The Forbes 400 For First Time In 25 Years (Forbes)

How Much Money America’s Billionaires Have Made During The Covid-19 Pandemic (Forbes)

Trump’s Debt Now Totals An Estimated $1.3 Billion (Forbes)

Jussie Smollett News And A ‘Let’s Go Brandon Store’ Dominate Facebook—Thanks In Part To Ben Shapiro (Forbes)

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