Believe it or not, Kanye West is still running for President of the United States. And just like all Presidential candidates, Kanye was required to submit a personal financial disclosure form which detailed his assets and debts. This is different from tax returns. This is a form where candidates running for positions in the executive branch give details of their assets, liabilities and income. Kanye's disclosure generated a bunch of salacious headlines this week. Unfortunately they were false headlines.
This week, a number of media outlets ran wild with headlines that proclaimed Kanye was only worth "hundreds of millions of dollars" according to his own federal financial filings. If true, we here at CNW would sure feel like bozos for proclaiming Kanye a multi billionaire back in April.
FYI, as of this writing, we peg Kanye West's net worth at $3.2 billion.
How could there be such a huge discrepancy? Actually there isn't a discrepancy at all. These other outlets are simply misinterpreting the form.
The title of the form in question is the "Executive Branch Personnel Public Financial Disclosure Report". The technical form number is "OGE Form 278e". OGE stands for Office of Government Ethics.
You can check out Kanye's form here but we're also going to include the relevant screenshots below.
The OGE Form 278e requires the filer to fill out a bunch of info regarding their finances, notably:
- What jobs (positions) do you hold outside of the US government?
- What assets do you own and how much income did you earn from them in the most recent full year? Part 2 of this section asks the filer to list the value of stock and retirement accounts.
- What assets does your spouse own and how much did they earn from them in the most recent year? And how much do they have in retirement? Kanye left this section blank which typically means the filer is financially separate from their spouse. For example, John McCain's wife owns billion-dollar beer distribution company. During his entire political life, they chose to keep their assets separate in all federal filings, including taxes. Sounds like Kim and Kanye do the same thing. Nothing weird or illegal at all here.
- Other assets and income – typically real estate and basic checking accounts.
So let's dig in to Kanye's filing.
First off, check out Kanye's signature:
1) Positions held outside of US government. Aka, jobs.
Kanye lists himself as a Trustee, Managing Member, Director/VP/CFO of roughly 30 trusts, for example "Yeezy LLC" and "Very Good Beats, Inc." Here's a screenshot of the top portion of this section:
2) Employment assets/income and retirement accounts.
This is the juicy stuff. This is where Kanye places an estimated value on all of his business units AND annual income from each unit. Much more on this section in a moment, but here's a quick screenshot:
3) Spouse's Employment Assets & Income and Retirement Accounts:
Kanye left this section blank.
4) Other Assets and Income:
Is Kanye West Only Worth $225 Million???
As you can see in the above screenshots, Kanye did indeed place an estimated current value for each of his assets. And if you added those values up, you'd get to roughly $325 million.
Later he estimates his liabilities at around $100 million.
Using these numbers, one would conclude that Kanye West's net worth would be $225 million, not even a tenth of our current $3.2 billion net worth estimate.
Here's the problem with that math and all the headlines from earlier this week –
The Federal OGE form does not require precise numerical values for these estimates. All a candidate needs to put is a wide range. For example, Kanye estimates the total value of "Yeezy Construction, LLC" at $250,001 – $500,000.
Most importantly, the highest number someone has to use as a value estimate is $50 million.
Anything worth over $50 million can be entered as having a value of "Over $50 million". So if something was worth $60 million or $60 billion, the candidate would simply put "Over $50 million" in the filing.
Let's take another look at Kanye's "Employment assets/income and retirement accounts":
Kanye is pegging the value of his three most important assets, Yeezy Footwear, Apparel and the overall Yeezy LLC, at "Over $50 million".
Those exact assets are what give Kanye billionaire status.
As we reported back in April, Yeezy generated $2.6 billion in revenue between 2017 and 2019. In 2020, despite the pandemic, the brand is projected to generate $1.7 billion in revenue. By 2025 Yeezy is projected to generate $3 billion in revenue.
Over the next six years (including 2020) Kanye is projected to earn more than $2 billion in royalty payments from Adidas. At that point, if all goes go plan, the Yeezy brand will be worth $2-3 billion.
Total it all up and the combined present value of his future royalty payments and the future value of Yeezy is somewhere between $2.4 and $3.2 billion. That's present value to Kanye today.
When combined with his roughly $200 million in other assets, his after tax present value net worth today is at least $3 billion.
According to his OGE Form 278e, Kanye owns 100% of the following LLCs:
Kanye West has reportedly spent about $6.7 million on his presidential campaign. He did not meet the deadline to make it onto the ballots in most states or in the District of Columbia. He will appear on the ballot in 12 states. He allegedly spent $400,000 to get the signatures necessary to appear on the ballot in Kentucky and $80,000 to get on the ballot in Iowa. He also allegedly paid $325,000 to Ohio and $300,000 to Virginia to get on the ballot but was not successful in those efforts.
If Kanye ultimately does not move into the White House in January, he can retreat to a number of valuable properties. How many properties? Glad you asked! Here's a full breakdown of Kanye's real estate assets from the OGE filing: