13 lesser-known facts about Barack Obama

Business Insider US

Former US president Barack Obama is currently in South Africa, to deliver the annual Nelson Mandela lecture in Johannesburg on Tuesday. 

The lecture is themed: "Renewing the Mandela Legacy and Promoting Active Citizenship in a Changing World". 

Over the years, Obama has acknowledge Mandela's legacy in various ways. Last year, Obama quoted Mandela in a tweet about tolerance – which continues to hold the record for the most-liked tweet in the history of Twitter.:

Here are some lesser-known facts about the former US president.

He's an early riser


Like South Africa’s president Cyril Ramaphosa, Obama wakes up before 5:00AM most mornings to exercise. His favourite workout is a game of basketball.

He plays to win at basketball

(US White House)

Experts describe his basketball style as “a floor-spacing role player who doesn't shoot, plays solid help defence, takes charges, and passes well”.

He has acknowledged that he is a master of "smack talk".

"I'm a super competitive guy. I'm good humoured about it. I'm not mean. But if you lose, I will talk about how badly I beat you. Part of the reason was to make sure, people were not wanting to hear it and they would try really hard," he said. 

He likes soul, and Eminem

Jackie Evancho sings the national anthem at the inauguration ceremony of Donald J. Trump. (Getty)

Obama is a hip-hop and soul music fan, and has a popular Spotify playlist. He reportedly used Eminem's "Lose Yourself" to get hyped before his 2016 speech at the Democratic National Convention.

He's a quitter

After signing the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act (Getty Images)

He stopped smoking in 2011. This is the reason he gave for the decision: “I'm scared of my wife."

He may have smoked more than cigarettes

Obama's high-school yearbook photo.

According to one biography, Obama was part of a "Choom Gang" while he attended Punahou High School in Honolulu and Occidental College in Los Angeles. Choom is a verb, meaning "to smoke marijuana."

He takes his vitamins

His daily intake includes a Vitamin D supplement, a medicine (Nexium) to help control acid reflux and nicotine gum to kill occasional tobacco cravings, according to official records. He’s 1.86 meter tall and weighs about 80kg.

He's not a Trump Twitter follower


Obama is coping with life under the Trump administration by avoiding Trump’s Twitter account and instead focusing on the big picture, according to a New York Magazine profile.

He is going to be making TV


The Obamas have signed a multi-year, multimillion deal with Netflix to produce original content, which could include a variety of different movies and shows. The content is unlikely to have heavy political themes or focus on the Obamas themselves, but will instead take on "telling the stories of individuals who the Obamas believe can guide viewers to be better citizens," according to the piece. The former president will also publish a memoir with Penguin Random House, but his wife’s book is expected first: in November 2018.

He doesn't believe in hats, mostly


Obama once said: "Here's the general rule: You don't put stuff on your head if you're president. That's politics 101. You never look good wearing something on your head."

But on his first holiday after leaving the White House, he wore a basketball cap – backwards.

He doesn't put much thought into clothes


Obama wore a blue or gray suit nearly every day of his presidency. Efficiency experts believe this was a deliberate choice. They believe that by making a habit of dressing the same each day, he saved time on decision making. This means that he had more mental energy to channel into other pursuits. Wearing a uniform has also been favoured by business leaders like the late Steve Jobs. 

Since leaving office, Obama has favoured "dad jeans", which has been widely ridiculed, including in television ads by a UK department store.

Obama might be considered among the coolest presidents ever, but he has "Dad jeans," according to the UK department store Harvey Nichols, which freshened him up (right) with a better-fitted pair of strides and a more-together outfit.

He wants Will Smith to be him.


Obama would like Will Smith to play him in a movie about his time in the office. "I talked to Barack about it," Smith said. "He told me that he felt confident that I had the ears for the role."

He likes his vegetables


His favourite food is broccoli.

People like seeing him with children.

Photos of Obama with children remain wildly popular, and there's even a Twitter account and hashtag devoted to it:

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