Colin Powell net worth: Colin Powell is an American statesman and a retired four-star general in the United States Army who has a net worth $60 million. Colin Powell served as the United States Secretary of State from 2001 to 2005 – the first Africa-American to do so. Before this, he served as the National Security Advisor and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from the late 80s to the early 90s. Powell’s term as Secretary of State under George W. Bush was incredibly controversial, owing to his false justification of the 2003 Iraq War.
After retiring from the military in the early 1990s, Colin earned a fortune thanks initially to speaking engagements. In 2000 alone he earned $7 million from 109 speaking engagements, charging around $64,000 per speech on average but periodically charging north of $100,000. He received a $6 million advance for his 1995 autobiography “My American Journey.”
In 2001, ahead of being confirmed as Secretary of State, Colin’s financial statements showed he was worth around $28 million at that time. That’s the same as around $42 million in today’s dollars after adjusting for inflation.
Early Life and Military Career: Colin Powell was born in 1937 in the Harlem neighborhood of Manhattan, New York. His parents, Jamaican immigrants Maud and Luther, were of mixed African and Scottish descent. Brought up in the South Bronx, Powell attended Morris High School, and worked at a local store selling baby furniture. Later, he enrolled at the City College of New York, graduating in 1958 with a Bachelor of Science in geology. While in college, Powell joined the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps; after graduation, he earned a commission as an Army second lieutenant, and was subsequently assigned to the 48th Infantry as a platoon leader in West Germany.
From 1962 to 1963, Powell did a tour in Vietnam as an advisor to the South Vietnamese Army. He returned in 1968 as a major, serving as the assistant chief of staff of operations for the 23rd Infantry Division. During this second tour, Powell received the Soldier’s Medal for bravery after surviving a helicopter crash and rescuing three others from the wreckage. After returning to the US, he enrolled at George Washington University, from which he graduated with an MBA in 1971.
Early Political Career: Under Richard Nixon, Powell served a White House Fellowship from 1972 to 1973. From 1975 to 1976, he attended the National War College in Washington, DC. In the early 80s, Powell served at Fort Carson, Colorado, and then became a senior military assistant to Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger. Later, in 1987, he served as the United States Deputy National Security Advisor under Frank Carlucci. Following the Iran-Contra scandal, Powell was appointed as Ronald Reagan’s National Security Advisor, serving until 1989. Afterward, he was promoted to four-star general under George H. W. Bush, briefly serving as the Commander in Chief, Forces Command at Fort McPherson, Georgia.
From 1989 to 1993, Powell had his last military assignment as the 12th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; he was the youngest officer and the first African-American to serve in the position. During his tenure, Powell oversaw 28 crises, including the invasion of Panama and Operation Desert Storm in the Persian Gulf War. Although he continued as Chairman into the Clinton presidency, Powell increasingly came to feel like a bad fit, clashing with United Nations ambassador Madeleine Albright and Secretary of Defense Leslie Aspin. He ultimately resigned early in 1993.
Entrepreneurship: In 1997, Powell founded America’s Promise Alliance, the country’s biggest cross-sector alliance of non-profit organizations, businesses, and government groups committed to bettering the lives of young people. The same year, he established the Colin L. Powell Center for Leadership and Service at the City College of New York. The Center’s goal was to nurture leaders from underrepresented populations, foster civic engagement at the College, and mobilize campus resources to serve the needs of the community and the broader public.
Secretary of State: In 2001, Powell was unanimously confirmed by the United States Senate as the 65th Secretary of State, the first African-American to serve in the position. Following the 9/11 attacks, he was instrumental in building the argument for the invasion of Iraq, and went along with the Bush administration’s decision to depose dictator Saddam Hussein. In a 2003 plenary session of the United Nations Security Council, he argued in favor of taking military action, falsely claiming that Hussein had and was continuing to produce biological weapons of war.
Following the overthrow of Hussein, Powell worked at establishing an international coalition to rebuild Iraq. Later, shortly after the reelection of Bush in November of 2004, he announced his resignation, and was replaced by Condoleezza Rice.
Post-Diplomatic Life: After his retirement, Powell returned to his private life. In 2005, he joined the Silicon Valley venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins as a strategic partner. The next year, he started speaking as part of the “Get Motivated” series of motivational events, often criticizing the Bush administration. Later, he joined the board of directors of the company Revolution Health, and served as a spokesman for the National Mentoring Month campaign, which works to recruit mentors for at-risk youth.
Views on the State of the Republican Party: Powell has been vocal about his increasing distaste of the Republican Party and its extremist movement toward the fringes. He denounced the 2016 Republican primaries, and endorsed Hillary Clinton; four years later, he voted for President Joe Biden. In 2021, following the attempted rightwing insurrection of the US Capitol, Powell left the Republican Party to become an independent.
Personal Life and Honors: In 1962, Powell wed audiologist Alma Johnson. They have three children: daughters Linda and Annemarie, and son Michael, who served as the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission from 2001 to 2005.
Powell has received myriad US and foreign military honors. Among his civilian awards are the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Congressional Gold Medal, the Presidential Citizens Medal, and the Secretary of Energy Distinguished Service Medal. Additionally, Powell holds honorary degrees from many colleges across the country.