What Was Bob Dole's Net Worth When He Died?

Bob Dole, a Republican party mainstay and presidential candidate known for his plain-spoken conservatism, died in the early morning hours of December 5, 2021, the BBC reported. The Dole family issued a statement, saying (via NPR), "It is with heavy hearts we announce that Senator Robert Joseph Dole died early this morning in his sleep. At his death, at age 98, he had served the United States of America faithfully for 79 years." For decades, Dole was the top Republican serving in the Senate, but his political career came to an end with an unsuccessful run for the White House against Bill Clinton in 1996. Before he ran for public office in his home state of Kansas, he served in the U.S. Army during World War II, during which he was seriously wounded.

In recent decades, Dole suffered a series of health ailments, per CNN. In 1991, he underwent surgery for prostate cancer. A decade later, he received abdominal aortic aneurysm surgery. In 2005, he was hospitalized after a fall in his home, and he was treated for a leg infection in 2009. Most recently, Dole announced in February 2021 that he was being treated for advanced lung cancer. 

Dole also left behind a considerable amount of wealth that he accumulated over the course of his life. 

How did Bob Dole make his money?

Bob Dole, at the time of his death, had an estimated net worth of $40 million, according to Celebrity Net Worth. But he definitely did not start his life as part of a wealthy family.

Robert Joseph Dole was born on July 22, 1923, and grew up poor in the Dust Bowl of Great Depression-era Kansas, according to The New York Times. Dole's parents struggled financially — their four children sharing a single room in the basement of their home — but preached the merits of hard work. Dole took a path that included the U.S. Army, University of Arizona and Washburn University, law school, and the Kansas House of Representatives before making his way to the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate, where he would remain from 1969 to 1996, earning $148,000 a year, per the Baltimore Sun.

Following Dole's career in the Senate and his failed presidential bid, he seized on lucrative opportunities in lobbying, speaking engagements, and appearances in commercials. He became a spokesman for Visa and Dunkin', and made a cameo in a Pepsi commercial featuring Britney Spears {via YouTube). But the commercial Dole that may have the most lasting impression is the one he did for Viagra, per BuzzFeed. Much of Dole's estimated net worth is combined with Elizabeth Dole, his wife since 1975. It's not immediately clear what happens to Bob Dole's wealth after his death. Some of his family may inherit his money, but it may also go to the Elizabeth Dole Foundation, which champions many of the issues close to him.