Skip to Content

Obama wished he could have bought a ‘boatload’ of Apple

Senators Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton CampaignSenators Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton Campaign
Then- Presidential candidate Senator Barack Obama with his BlackBerry.Photograph by Charles Ommanney — Getty Images

Believer: My 40 years in politics,” is a White House tell-all by a guy in a position to know: David Axelrod, the Chicago political operator who ran Barack Obama’s 2008 hopey-changey presidential campaign. The New York Daily News’ advanced look at the book was full of juicy details about the usual cast of characters: Hillary, Joe, Mitt, Rahm, etc.

But the bit Apple investors can relate to — the one with poignancy and cash value — is this (from the News):

In 2007, Obama got a sneak peek at the iPhone during a private meeting with Apple’s Steve Jobs. “If it were legal, I would buy a boatload of Apple stock. This thing is going to be really big,” Obama said after the meeting.”

That Obama had a private meeting with Steve Jobs in 2007 is news to me. The Washington Post’s Philip Bump took a crack at calculating how much Obama’s boatload would be worth today, but I think he got the dates wrong.

We don’t really know when the meeting took place or what kind of non-tradable inside information Jobs might have given the junior senator from Illinois. (Was Obama, I wonder, required to sign a standard Apple nondisclosure agreement?)

But if 2007 is accurate, the sneak peek would’ve had to have occurred in the first week and half of January, given that the rest of the world got to see the iPhone on Jan. 9.

On Jan. 8, the stock closed at a split-adjusted $11.52. It closed Thursday at $119.94.

If Barack and Michele could have scraped together $100,000 to buy Apple the day before the unveiling, they’d now have 8,680 shares worth, by my calculations, $1.04 million plus dividends.

Follow Philip Elmer-DeWitt on Twitter at @philiped. Read his Apple AAPL coverage at or subscribe via his RSS feed.

Watch more about Obama and Apple from Fortune’s video team: