President-elect Donald Trump has set a fundraising record for his inauguration on Friday, reportedly raising $100 million so far. This eclipses the previous record of $55 million set for Barack Obama’s first inauguration. Whether Trump will spend the entire amount remains to be seen.
It looks like Trump’s inaugural festivities will be somewhat muted compared to Obama’s in 2009. Trump is holding three inaugural balls, whereas Obama had 10. Trump’s inaugural planning team also wants to limit the parade to 90 minutes, compared to the more than two hours for Obama.
Each president has an inaugural committee tasked with soliciting donations to fund the galas, dinners, concerts and other activities surrounding the inauguration. A Trump spokesman told the Associated Press that any money not used for the festivities would be donated to charity. Obama used leftover money to help pay for the White House Easter egg roll and other events during his first term.
Inauguration are paid for by taxpayers, too. Federal, state and local governments are responsible for costs associated with extra security, which are estimated to be as much as $100 million this year. The Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies is paying $1.25 million for the swearing-in ceremony, inaugural luncheon and review of troops.
The cost of the festivities surrounding presidential inaugurations skyrocketed with Ronald Reagan’s first swearing-in, which was by nominal terms more than five times the cost of Jimmy Carter’s inauguration in 1977, according to the Hauenstein Center for Presidential Studies at Grand Valley State University.
That was partly because of high inflation that occurred during Carter’s administration. Additionally, several balls were added to the festive weekend during Reagan’s first inauguration. And Carter purposefully kept his inauguration modest, with his wife wearing the same blue ball gown she had worn six years earlier to the celebration of his gubernatorial inauguration in Georgia.
Woodrow Wilson also had a low-budget inauguration in 1913. He declined to hold a ball because he disliked dancing and believed it was inappropriate for the occasion. Congress ended up spending only $30,000 for the event, or about $731,400 in today’s dollars. The inaugural ball first started with James Madison's inauguration in 1809.