Donald Trump has a longstanding love-hate relationship with Forbes’ rich lists

A roller-coaster relationship.
A roller-coaster relationship.
Image: Reuters/Yuri Gripas
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Few things trigger Donald Trump like suggesting that he’s not as wealthy as he claims to be.

Every year, Forbes ranks the 400 richest Americans. The latest list, released today, found that Trump’s net worth dropped to $3.1 billion last year, down $600 million from 2016. That put him at #248 on the list, compared with #156 last year, and echoes Trump’s 220-place drop on Forbes’ list of the world’s richest people, updated in March.

The ranking has drawn Trump’s ire over the years. In 2013, he tweeted that Forbes knows “nothing about me or my numbers” and in 2014 said the publication “knowingly” underestimates his net worth.

Yet in 2015, after journalist Glenn Thrush tweeted that Trump was worth less than 10% of what he claimed, the real estate mogul turned to the Forbes list as evidence.

Generally, Trump’s feelings about Forbes seem to rise and fall with the favorability of its coverage of him.

Forbes or no Forbes, Trump’s net worth is a notoriously sensitive issue for him. During his 2011 Comedy Central roast, participants joked about everything from Trump’s weight to his “fantasies” about his daughter Ivanka; the only subject reportedly off-limits was questioning his wealth. Trump then used his time on stage to make a joke about that very topic: ”What is the difference between a wet raccoon and Donald J. Trump’s hair? A wet raccoon doesn’t have seven billion fucking dollars in the bank.”

Just before the roast, Forbes had pegged Trump’s net worth near $2.4 billion. He complained about that estimate: “Eventually, before I kick the bucket, we’ll get the number [my net worth] right. Maybe next year…Because it’s at least double what you have.” Trump declined to provide Forbes with documentation to back up his claims.

Trump has even been called out by his employees. In 2000, for example, he told the Wall Street Journal that he was worth $5 billion. After those numbers were disputed, Abraham Wallach, then executive vice president of the Trump Organization, told the paper that “Donald exaggerates sometimes. He’s talking about futures.”

Trump’s current net worth, according to Trump, is more than $10 billion. According to (paywall) financial disclosure filed with the US Federal Election Commission last year, Trump’s assets are valued at a minimum of $1.5 billion.