U.S. Senator John McCain was very wealthy, but most of his money derived from his wife, Cindy, who is the heiress to a beer fortune.
McCain died on August 25, 2018 at the age of 81 after a battle with brain cancer.
According to the Atlantic, in 2014, 94 percent of John McCain’s wealth came from spouse-owned assets.
McCain, 80, announced on July 19 that he has a brain tumor, and support for the Arizona senator and war hero came from many corners. “On Friday, July 14, Sen. John McCain underwent a procedure to remove a blood clot from above his left eye at Mayo Clinic Hospital in Phoenix. Subsequent tissue pathology revealed that a primary brain tumor known as a glioblastoma was associated with the blood clot,” a statement from McCain’s office read.
He passed away surrounded by his wife, Cindy, and his family.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. McCain Has an Estimated Net Worth in the Millions of Dollars
Many sites that estimate celebrity net worth put McCain’s net worth at around $23 million. However, this vastly underestimates his family’s wealth due to wife Cindy’s holdings.
John McCain’s own personal wealth might be greater, but he spent his entire life in public service, first serving in the Navy for 22 years (and spending five of those years as a Vietnamese prisoner of war). He has served in Congress since 1982.
The Center for Responsive Politics, which uses politicians’ required finance disclosures to estimate their net worth, reports that McCain has a net worth of just over $19 million, making him the 11th richest U.S. Senator.
2. Cindy McCain Inherited a Phoenix Beer Distributorship
Cindy McCain’s wealth is inherited, and it dwarfs that of her husband. John McCain’s finance disclosure reports indicate some of her wealth is held independently of him.
Cindy inherited a “Phoenix beer distributorship that is worth hundreds of millions of dollars,” reported The New York Times. Sites that estimate celebrity net worth often peg Cindy’s net worth at more than $100 million, although no one knows the exact amount.
The Times reported that Cindy’s father started the business, Hensley & Company, “a half-century ago,” and it was the “exclusive wholesaler of Budweiser, Bud Light, and other Anheuser-Busch products in the Phoenix area.” The newspaper reported that the company was the third largest Anheuser-Busch distributor in the United States.
Cindy owns 34 percent of the company and, with her children and other family members, controls 2/3rds of the company’s stock, reported The Times.
According to NPR, “The company, which distributes brands including Bud Light and Budweiser” had a “60 percent share of the Phoenix market and had $370 million in revenues” one recent year.
3. John McCain’s Net Worth Has Declined in Recent Years & the Couple Has a Prenuptial Agreement
According to The Center for Responsive Politics, John McCain’s wealth has been on the decline. In 2006, the senator was worth an estimated $36 million, the site says. However, the senator is only required to submit ranges for his wealth.
NPR reports that Cindy and John McCain signed a prenuptial agreement when they married in 1980. “Cindy Hensley met John McCain more than 20 years earlier at a party in Hawaii. He was a 43-year-old naval officer, married at the time. She was 25,” a 2008 NPR story read.
John McCain initially worked for his father-in-law and then ran for Congress with loans from Cindy, reports NPR. The couple has filed separate tax returns in past years, and their exact finances are a bit mysterious due to Cindy’s penchant for privacy, according to NPR.
4. John McCain Received Book Royalties & a Navy Pension
The U.S. Senate requires senators to submit detailed financial disclosure reports. The most recent report available for McCain on the Senate website is 2015. You can read the 44-page report here. You can also search for it on the U.S. Senate website here. Read McCain’s financial disclosure reports dating back to 1982 here.
Most of the entries deal with McCain’s wife’s holdings. Some interesting tidbits from the McCain report:
McCain received a Navy pension of more than $73,000 per year. In 2015, he received more than $2,800 in royalties from his book, Faith of My Fathers. McCain also draws a U.S. Senator’s salary of $174,000.
He has multiple checking accounts. One has at least $100,000 in it. His wife has a property in La Jolla, California that is held independently and worth more than $1 million. Cindy McCain has an interest in everything from a parking garage to a professional baseball team. Cindy McCain has pages of securities and other investments.
5. The Couple’s Children Are Also Worth Millions
The McCains’ finances fell under scrutiny when he ran for president, and it was widely reported that most of his wealth derived from his wife. The couple’s children hold a lot of the wealth too.
In one recent finance disclosure, “The Cessna jet is owned by Cindy and the children. The millions in cash tucked away in savings and checking accounts? Solely Cindy’s. The investment fund shares worth between $2.7 million and $5.8 million belong to the children,” reported ABC News.
“The residential and commercial Arizona rental properties and undeveloped land belong to Cindy. The house in La Jolla, Calif. is Cindy’s, while she shares a $1 million-plus investment property in Coronado with her dependent children,” ABC reported.
John and Cindy McCain have four children together. He also has three children from his first marriage.