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1 Jul 2023

Ron DeSantis stands behind a podium, in front of the American flag.

Florida Governor and 2024 Presidential hopeful Ron DeSantis speaks during his campaign kickoff event ... [+] at Eternity Church in Clive, Iowa, on May 30, 2023.

Photo by Andrew Caballero-Reynolds / AFP via Getty Images

Whether or not Ron DeSantis wins the Republican nomination, he has already gotten rich trying. The Florida governor said he was worth $1.2 million in a filing released Friday, up from $319,000 a year earlier, thanks to a lucrative book deal timed to his bid for the White House.

HarperCollins, publisher of “The Courage to Be Free: Florida’s Blueprint for America’s Revival,” paid DeSantis $1.25 million, according to the filing. Apart from his $141,400 salary from the state, DeSantis disclosed no other sources of income in 2022.

The book came out in February and quickly became a bestseller. Industry analyst NPD BookScan calculated that DeSantis had already sold 168,900 print trade copies as of about a month ago. Additional bulk orders for campaign events are not included in that count.

“The Courage to Be Free” is a classic campaign book, chronicling key moments in DeSantis’ life, from his childhood to his governorship. It joins a long list of books that have created small fortunes for politicians, including Barack Obama, Elizabeth Warren and Pete Buttigieg, who all capitalized on the fame that came with their presidential campaigns.

Twelve years ago, before he was a nationally-known politician, DeSantis published another book “Dreams From Our Founding Fathers: First Principles in the Age of Obama,” which provided him with just $20,000.

DeSantis is not used to living with big money. He grew up middle-class in Florida, before heading to Yale, where he captained the baseball team and graduated in 2001. He started his career as a history teacher at a private school, then went to Harvard for law school, graduating in 2005. At 27, DeSantis landed a job with the US Navy, which provided a modest salary.

He funded his early years with debt. Still saddled with student loans, he took on a $314,000 mortgage in 2009 to purchase a home in Jacksonville, the same year he married his wife, Casey. By 2011, DeSantis was working at the law firm Holland & Knight, earning $128,000. He published his first book around the same time.

In 2012, DeSantis turned to politics, beginning a five-year stint in the U.S. House of Representatives, where he earned $174,000 a year. DeSantis deposited part of that money into a savings plan and spent some on real estate, buying a $242,000 home in Palm Coast, Florida in 2016.

He won the race for governor in 2018 and ditched his homes in Jacksonville and Palm Coast, collecting a combined $735,000 — most of which went toward paying off his mortgages. DeSantis could have pocketed more if he had held onto the properties, which surged in value during the pandemic. Thanks to his new book, he’ll be just fine anyway.