Elvis Presley Bought a Former President’s Yacht for an Insane Amount

by Halle Ames

No one understands glitz and glamour quite like Elvis Presley. But he got this 165-foot-long yacht for a steal!

In 1964, Elvis Presley only paid $55,000 for the massive yacht, named the Potomac. In today’s money, that comes out to just over $464,000. Still quite a steal for a yacht of that size!

FDR’s “Floating White House” and Its Long List of Owners

The boat previously served as Franklin Roosevelt’s “floating White House” during his presidency from 1936 to 1945. But after his death in 1945, the yacht was decommissioned. A number of people owned the Potomac until it floated into the hands of Elvis Presley.

The Potomac was created in 1934 and was originally used as a U.S. Coast Guard cutter.

Elvis didn’t keep the vessel long for his own enjoyment. Shortly after purchasing the yacht, he donated it to St. Jude’s Children Hospital, whose headquarters is in Memphis, along with Graceland. The nonprofit hospital then turned around and sold the boat to raise money.

In fact, in 1980, the Potomac was seized in San Francisco by the U.S. Customs Patrol. The boat was being used to smuggle drugs into the states. It was later refurbished and opened to the public.

Giving Back

The donation made to St. Jude’s was one of many items he would either donate or raise money for. Elvis Presley was known to give away cars, cash, jewelry, and many more to friends and strangers. His chef, Mary Jenkins, even revealed that Elvis Presley bought her a house, noting that her friend occasionally asked Jenkins if he could stay with her.

The King of Rock and Roll also partook in countless benefit concerts.

Additionally, he raised more than $50,000 for the completion of the USS Arizona Memorial in Hawaii that was destroyed in the Pearl Harbor attacks in 1941. More than 1,100 soldier’s bodies remain in the boat. The memorial was put on hold years prior to Elvis Presley’s donation due to the lack of funds.

According to History.com, “Elvis’ concert, for which tickets ranged from $3 to $100, helped reinvigorate fund-raising efforts for the memorial, and it was dedicated the following year.

Elvis Presley’s Military Experience

Why did he choose to donate to the memorial? Besides the fact that it was a massive American tragedy and it deserves one, Elvis Presley also spent time in the military. Maybe the bombing of innocent military personnel struck a nerve, as it did everyone in the country.

Although Presley never served in the Navy, like the men at Pearl Harbor, he was a member of the US Army.

In December of 1957, 23-year-old Elvis Presley was drafted into the military, fame and all. By March the following year, he was enlisted as a private in the Army and attended basic training at Fort Hood, Texas.

The U.S. military deployed Presley to West Germany in September 1958. The King was assigned to be a Jeep driver. It was here that Elvis first met his future wife, Priscilla, who was only 14 years old at the time.

Elvis Presley was promoted to the rank of sergeant in February and honorably discharged from active duty in March 1960.

While overseas, fans never forgot about him, continuously sending the music legend stacks of fan mail.

Elvis Presley died at his estate in Graceland on August 16, 1977, due to a heart attack. He was only 42-years-old at the time.