Presidential Inaugurations (By The Numbers)

The peaceful transition of power in the United States was marked by a lot of pomp and circumstance — and payments. A lot of money was spent prepping, hosting and commemorating the inauguration of our 45th President. But how does the lead up to yesterday (and last night) compare to others? We break it all down.

The presidency of Donald J. Trump has officially begun — he was sworn in as the forty-fifth president of the United States yesterday at high noon.

But now that all the balls have been attended and the songs have been sung, there is little left to do but sweep up the confetti and pay the bills.

Which, being the payments-obsessed sorts we are here, got us thinking about inaugurations and their costs — financial and otherwise. And while there are many ways to think about yesterday’s transition of power — and cable news is doubtlessly trying all of them out right now — we’ve decided the best way to break it all down is by the numbers.

$175 Million To $200 Million

That is the estimated total cost of the inauguration that took place in the nation’s capital yesterday. The bigger-ticket items included security (lots of it), transportation (lots of it, lots of fancy cars to boot) and emergency services (on stand by, hopefully not used).

$30 Million

That is the estimated total cost for the city of Washington, D.C. to host the inauguration. On the upside, this is something of a bargain, as Obama’s inauguration in 2009 cost the city $63.2 million.

$1 million

Wealthy donors and corporations have the option of underwriting the inauguration through donations ranging from $25,000 to $1 million. According to reports, the most expensive package comes with a candlelight dinner that will include President Trump; his wife, Melania; and Vice President-elect Mike Pence and his wife, Karen. Because nothing says “Happy Early Valentine’s Day” like double dating with the Trumps and the Pences.

$600,000 to $900,000

That is our best guess as to the approximate amount spent creating the pink hats to be worn in protest of Donald Trump’s inauguration. For those who are now desperately confused, various women’s rights groups have elected to make inauguration day a national day of protest for women’s rights — and in a sign of unity, attendees have been encouraged to make or buy pink knitted caps with cat ears sewn in. As of late December, organizers estimated that about 30,000 hats had been made, and the current running estimate puts the number at around 60,000. Since the cost of a pink ball of yarn is around $10 — and buying a premade hat is $15 on Etsy — we can safely guess that somewhere between $600,000 and $900,000 has been spent fighting the patriarchy — via knitting.


This is the number of guests Airbnb booked into D.C. for inauguration day — reportedly a 10-fold increase from 2013. Airbnb noted that some portion of those listings are likely for the Women’s March on Washington (the destination of the aforementioned hats) and not related to the inauguration itself.

10,000 To 20,000

This totals the number of people who reportedly attended the inauguration of Andrew Jackson. The first great American populist president, Andrew Jackson, swore to make the White House the people’s house, a promise he lived up to when he opened his doors to the people on Inauguration Day. Instead of a gala or ball, Jackson threw the 1836 equivalent of a kegger. The people responded by drinking a lot of whiskey and throwing what scholars officially ruled one of the wildest parties in American history. The White House was reportedly left so significantly destroyed that it was largely rendered unusable for several months.

The only other time the White House has sustained more damage in a single day was during the War of 1812, when the British actually burned it down.


Let’s say that you didn’t have an extra million bucks to buy an exclusive ticket to an inauguration ball, but you can still get your piece of the inaugural pie: a commemorative license plate. The “Official 45th Presidential Inaugural License Plate” features Trump’s name in black type on the white plate, with the slogan “Make America Great Again” underneath. Contributions are not tax-deductible.

31 Days

Arguably the most expensive inauguration in the U.S. came in 1841 as it literally cost the president himself. According to popular myth, President William Henry Harrison spoke for an extended period during an unusually cold inauguration day and did not wear a coat. About a week after the inauguration, Harrison developed pneumonia and three weeks later died, making his the shortest tenure as President in U.S. history.


This represents the cost of a ticket to one of Jimmy Carter’s inaugural balls. Carter famously thought the balls were “extravagant” and worked specifically to “strip them of their glamour” by lowering the cost of the ticket. By all accounts, he succeeded — Carter’s balls are remembered as being particularly unglamorous – with bad food.


For those who can’t quite bring themselves to spend $50 on a commemorative license plate, there is always the Trump bobblehead.

16 Minutes

This was how long Donald Trump’s inaugural address lasted. That makes it the shortest set of remarks delivered by an American president in 40 years. In those 16 minutes, President Trump said that he will make America great again by making America first again.


This is the number of inaugural balls George Washington attended. The first inauguration did not feature any sort of gala event, though there was a brief parade through the streets. The first official inaugural ball was held in New York City a week after Washington was inaugurated. John Adams and Thomas Jefferson also passed on inaugural balls — the first official one was thrown for our fourth President James Madison.

So what have we learned this week? Regardless of your politics, the peaceful transition of power in the United States is a symbol of our democracy. And shorter inaugural speeches are better (and advised) when the weather is bad (it was drizzling and cold in Washington yesterday).


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