Society - People
By: - at October 9, 2013

15 Interesting Facts about Barack Obama

Barack Obama has accomplished a great deal throughout his life. Early on, Obama excelled in grade school and would later graduate from Columbia University, moving on to Harvard Law School after undergraduate completion. Along with being a loving husband and father to his two daughters, he was also able to write two best-selling books that focus on his successful journey through the world of politics that would eventually get him to the White House. Over the past ten years, there has been an extensive amount of information released into public record about President Obama.

Barack Obama

His thoughts, beliefs, and concerns regarding important issues have been published in newspapers and televised news specials since he was first sworn into office back in 2008. His birthdate, birthplace, and basic information about his life and his parents have even been used to develop trivia questions for popular game shows and board games. With all the information available, it may seem like you know more than enough about Barack Obama. There are still some interesting facts about the man who now referred to as the POTUS (President of the United States) that many people do not know.

15)  He Does Not Like to Eat Ice Cream
The frozen novelty treats and ice cream market generated over $11 billion in sales in 2012 in the United States alone. Another study shows that the average American consumes close to 15 quarts of ice cream every year.

Obama hates ice cream

If any conclusion can be drawn from these numbers, then President Obama is not your typical American because he simply has a great distaste for all types of ice cream. His strong disliking for the delicious frozen treat started during his teenage years when he worked at the famous ice cream shop, Baskin-Robbins.

He stated in several different interviews that having to deal with ice cream on a daily basis plays a significant role in why he cannot stand the taste of ice cream.

Obama and the Phillies

He is also not that big of a fan of drinking coffee or alcohol. Some people might picture the most powerful man in the world, due to the stressful nature of being President, to be essentially living off of coffee. There are also quite a few pictures that are circulating on the Internet and through the press of the President drinking from a coffee mug. In the case of these pictures, he is most likely enjoying a cup of his favorite drink, black forest berry iced tea. Obama's favorite snack would be chocolate-peanut protein bars.

14)  His Favorite Movie is "Casablanca"
People would agree that there is a lot that you could learn from someone simply by understanding their taste in movies, particularly by what their favorite movie happens to be. The President of the United States isn't an exception to this personality evaluating tool. Obama willingly expressed his top five favorite movies on several different occasions to the media. At the very top of the list is the 1942 Humphrey Bogart classic hit, Casablanca.


When asked about this top movie choice in an interview, President Obama quickly responded with another direct question, "Who doesn't like Casablanca?"

The 1975 Academy-Award-winning Jack Nicholson hit, One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest, is next on the President's movie list. He is a major fan of the first two Godfather movies from the early 1970s.

one flew over the cuckoo's nest

He once stated in an interview with Katie Couric that his favorite movie scene of all time was the opening scene from the very first Godfather movie, when Marlon Brando expresses how he was disrespected by the same man who was asking him for a favor. He was not a fan of the third Godfather movie at all, which is right in line with millions of other movie fans across the country. Finishing off his top five favorites is the ever enjoyable 1962 classic, Lawrence of Arabia.

13)  He Has Read All of the Harry Potter Books
There are approximately 4,224 pages within the seven-book series of J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter novels. Hundreds of millions of people around the world are major fans, and the popularity of the series has led to a successful movie franchise. Based on United States sales numbers alone, the first five films were able to surpass the $1 billion milestone. Out of all the millions of people who have become fans of the magical series, there are two fans that are worth mentioning: President Obama's two daughters.

Harry Potter Books
By Mo HH92 via Wikimedia Commons

President Obama admits that he has read all of the Harry Potter books to his daughters.

12)  He Views His Favorite Sport as a Good Luck Charm
When it comes to winning, people have different traditions and routines they believe will help them be victorious. Football players have slept in their uniforms overnight because they felt it would improve their performance on game day. Michael Jordan, one of the greatest basketball players of all time, wore his North Carolina basketball shorts underneath his Chicago Bulls shorts during every single game for good luck. President Obama even has good luck charm that he believes helped him win two key primaries.

Obama with Chinese Vice Premier Wang Qishan (Holding ball)
Obama with Chinese Vice Premier Wang Qishan (Holding ball)

Obama's good luck charm is basketball, which is the President's favorite sport. In a 2008 interview with 60 Minutes, then-Senator Obama stated that he had to play a game of basketball before each key primary in order to win, and that he planned to carry on that tradition during the upcoming general election.

Obama Playing Basketball

Obama is currently serving his second term as President, so he must have been on to something.

11)  He is a Dedicated Basketball Fan and Player
Even before President Obama was sworn into his first term, it was widely known that he is a huge fan of basketball. Every year Obama has been in office he has made a tradition out of inviting the team who wins the NBA championship for a formal banquet at the White House. Many people may not realize that Obama's passion for the game goes beyond spectating, and Obama is a powerful force on the basketball court.

President Obama shooting baskets

He has invited quite a few professional basketball superstars to play in Presidential Pick-Up games, including Carmelo Anthony, Dwyane Wade and LeBron James. The President never allows any media coverage at these events, much to the disappointment of many basketball fans. His primary reason for the media ban is that he just wants to have everyone focus on the game, and not any unnecessary press coverage.

Obama with (from left) Deputy National Security Advisor Advisor Denis McDonough, Staff Secretary Lisa Brown, and National Security General Jim Jones
Obama with (from left) Deputy National Security Advisor Advisor Denis McDonough, Staff Secretary Lisa Brown, and N National Security General Jim Jones

Over two decades ago, the President was a star power forward on his high school basketball team. He even earned the nickname of "Barry O'Bomber" because of his famous double pump, left-handed shot.

10)  He Was a Party Lover in the Mid-1990s
President Obama has admitted on several different occasions that he enjoyed attending parties and social functions with his close friends and family members throughout the 1990s. This was before he officially embarked on his journey into the world of politics. Ian Manners, the former husband of Obama's half-sister, remembers partying with Barack Obama. At his bachelor party back in 1996, Manners remembers the future President as being very relaxed and laid back.

Barack and Michelle Obama

Even though he was willing to have a good time, Manners also stated that at the time, Obama showed a lot of respect for his wife of four years, Michelle. He remembers that Obama did not do anything that would disgrace their marriage. Obama even left the party immediately after the arrival of a stripper.

Barack and Michelle Obama

In the interview, Manners recalls the bartender jokingly telling him that Obama was going to be the President of the United States one day. Even though he knew that Obama was a great guy, he thought it was a long shot to see him ending up in the White House. He did not know that he would be proven wrong twelve years later.

9)  He Paid Off His Student Loans with a Book Deal
student loan debtPeople may wonder why the President has placed so much focus on the student loan crisis since the beginning of his second term. It is primarily because he personally understands the disadvantage of having a high loan balance follow you for many years.

Between him and his wife Michelle, they racked up $120,000 in student loan debt. This debt followed them during the first twenty years of their marriage. It was not until 2004, when Obama signed a $1.9 million book deal and wrote the best-selling book, The Audacity of Hope, that they were able to pay off their debt.

Audacity of hope

Obama was also elected to the US Senate during the same year.

8)  He Did Not Make the Cut as a Calendar Pin-Up Model
When President Obama appeared on the popular daytime talk show, "The View, he revealed that he was the distant-cousin of Brad Pitt. Once the topic was brought up, the President quipped that his distant relative had clearly received the better looking portion of the gene pool. Award-winning journalist, news anchor and show creator, Barbara Walters, corrected him by declaring that the ladies on that particular panel thought that he was "very sexy looking." That comment was followed by hoots, hollers and whistles from the mostly female audience.

Obama delivering speech in Vegas
By Center for American Progress Action Fund from Washington, DC, via Wikimedia Commons

Even though the all-female panel of "The View" thought that President Obama was sexy, he was judged by another all-female committee during his time at Harvard. At that time, young Barack Obama wanted to be able to show off as a pin-up model for the annual student calendar. However, the all-female committee rejected his submission and went with their other choices instead of Obama. These women are probably kicking themselves right now for their decision. Power is defiantly a turn on for most women. 

7)  He Has Used the Same Barber for Almost Two Decades
obama and his barber zariffA published report stated that there are over 220,000 barbers working in over 40,000 barbershops throughout the United States. When choosing the barber that is going to cut the President's hair, there are literally thousands of people to choose from for the prestigious position. In the past, Presidents have chosen local barbers they have already known, trust in the staff that is already hired for cosmetology for the White House, or decided to cut their own hair.

President Obama decided to keep the same barber that he has been using since 1995. This Chicago-based barber goes by the simple name of "Zariff." A news report released in 2012 confirmed that President Obama flies Zariff to Washington DC from his home in Chicago every two weeks, just to give him a bimonthly cut and trim. Before you get annoyed over this flagrant waste of government dollars, know that the expenses from these frequent trips come out of the President's own pocket.

6)  He Had to Sleep in a New York Alley
Even before he was able to move his family into the White House in Washington DC, President Obama enjoyed a 14-room home in the beautiful Kenwood district of Chicago. This three-story and 6,000 square foot home came included six bedrooms, five full baths, and a four-car garage. With Obama's first experience in New York City, it would seem that he could of only dreamt about living in a house like that.

President obama taking oath of office

When he moved to New York he had made arrangements to live in a friend’s apartment located on West 109th Street. Unfortunately, he arrived a little after 10 PM and nobody was there to answer the door to let him in with his luggage. He spent the night reading a letter that he had received from his estranged father, advising him to continue looking after himself and to focus on getting to know the people around him.

homeless man with shopping cart

He could not afford any type of hotel accommodations, so he had to spend the night in the alleyway right there on West 109th Street in Manhattan. The future president of the free world woke up the next day, washing at a fire hydrant with a homeless man.

5)  He Experimented with Drugs as a Teenager
There have been quite a few Presidents that have gotten caught up in a conversation about their illegal drug use, either before or during their prestigious political careers. Sometimes these conversations end in that forever tarnish their image and overall reputation to the public. Many people remember when President Bill Clinton denied that he had ever smoked marijuana in his campaign in 1992, and the ensuing campaign jousts from incumbent George Bush's campaign.

cocaine and marijuana

President Obama refused to hide anything from his past when it came to his campaign – including his past history of drug use. He openly admitted to experimenting with a wide variety of drugs as a teenager. He did not even wait until his campaign began to reveal the facts about his experiences with drugs. It was in his first book, Dreams from My Father, which was released back in 1995 before he started his political career.

dreams from my father

According to an excerpt from his book, the former Senator admitted that he experimented with marijuana and cocaine. He wanted to try heroin, but he had a rocky relationship with the drug dealer who was trying to sell it to him and chose to pass on it. During a meeting with the American Society of Magazine Editors, he stated that his past drug use was "reflective of the struggles and confusion of a teenage boy,". His forthrightness on this subject clearly didn't hurt his political career, perhaps proving that voters really do value honesty above all else.

4)  He Was Not "Black Enough" for Most Black Voters
One would think that the black community would immediately support a black Presidential candidate, but this this was definitely not the case during Obama's first presidential campaign. A variety of reports confirmed that the vast majority of black voters were actually against Obama for most of his campaign. Many people argued that President Obama was not "black enough" to make history as the first black US President of the United States. Not black enough?

obama election poster

Other voters felt that there was no sense in voting for him because an African American could never win enough votes to become president. It wasn't until Iowa's primary that most black voters decided to finally support him in the race, with a final endorsement of 95 percent of the black vote.

3)  He is a Grammy Award Winner
President Obama has made history with his presidency, but he also has achieved something that many recording artists only dream of. President Obama happens to be a Grammy Award winner. And if winning once wasn't enough, Obama stuck to his pattern of duplicated success and is a two-time Grammy winner. He won his first Grammy back in 2006 for providing his own narration for the audiobook version of his best-selling memoir, Dreams from My Father.

Obama's Grammy for The Audacity of Hope
Obama's Grammy for The Audacity of Hope
By Ya'akov via Wikimedia Commons

Lightning struck twice two years later when he won another Grammy Award in the same category for the narration of his other best-seller The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream. He might be the first African American President, but he is not the first President to win a Grammy. Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton have also been awarded a Grammy, and posthumous awards were given to Presidents John F. Kennedy and Franklin D. Roosevelt. That's some interesting company to be keeping, considering these men could arguably be some of the most note-worthy presidents of all time. 

2)  He Was Actually the First Black President Twice
It is widely known that Barack Obama was the first African American to become president of the United States. But Obama had already made history almost twenty years prior to winning his first term in office, by becoming the first black President of the Harvard Law Review in February of 1990. It is important to note the Harvard Law Review has been ranked and rated as being one of the most prestigious law organizations in the country.

obama state of union

At the time of his election it was the first time that a black student had held this position in the 104-year history of the institution. In an interview, a young Barack Obama stated that being elected to that position showed "a lot of progress," but he also took a moment to remind people that "there are hundreds or thousands of black students with at least equal talent who don't get a chance."

1)  He is the First US President to Embrace Social Media
Technology has really changed the world that we live in, and the manner in which we communicate and do business. In the past, no president ever made use of social media. The president was, for security purposes, discouraged from publically making use of social media applications like Facebook or Twitter. What started as a ban on social media strictly for security purposes, progressed into a standard for which subsequent presidents would communicate electronically.

social media 

President Obama decided to change the status quo by becoming the first U.S. President to publicly embrace the world of social media, and openly embraced the changes in communication that everyone seemed to throw themselves into. He has an official Facebook page that he also uses for personal purposes, and even has a Twitter account that he frequently uses. He even posts an occasional YouTube video, easily making him the most electronically avid present to date.


Recent reports have confirmed that he is also the first President to own and use an Apple iPod, iPad, and fully customized BlackBerry smartphone. This last statistic probably has more to do with the times we live in rather than any unprecedented foresight. 

Final Words
Even though President Barack Obama has truly had a lot of his personal and private life thrown into the public arena, there are still many things about Obama that are not as well known as the typical regurgitated factoids on television. Aside from his basic likes and dislikes that make him human, there are finer points that have molded him into the stoic public figure he is today.





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