Springsteen, Kaling, Louis-Dreyfus Among 22 Honored by Biden

President Joe Biden presents the 2021 National Medal of the Arts to Bruce Springsteen at White House in Washington, Tuesday, March 21, 2023. (AP)
President Joe Biden presents the 2021 National Medal of the Arts to Bruce Springsteen at White House in Washington, Tuesday, March 21, 2023. (AP)
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Springsteen, Kaling, Louis-Dreyfus Among 22 Honored by Biden

President Joe Biden presents the 2021 National Medal of the Arts to Bruce Springsteen at White House in Washington, Tuesday, March 21, 2023. (AP)
President Joe Biden presents the 2021 National Medal of the Arts to Bruce Springsteen at White House in Washington, Tuesday, March 21, 2023. (AP)

President Joe Biden welcomed a high-wattage collection of singers, authors, artists and humanitarians to the White House on Tuesday to present them with medals — and then stole the show himself with a quip about seeking reelection.

Bruce Springsteen, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Mindy Kaling and Gladys Knight were among the 22 people and organizations being honored. When novelist Colson Whitehead’s award was announced, Biden noted that the author of “The Underground Railroad” and “The Nickel Boys” has already won back-to-back Pulitzer Prizes.

The president, who is expected to announce for reelection this spring, quickly picked it up.

“Pretty good man,” he told Whitehead. “I’m kind of looking for a back-to-back myself,” he added, drawing a laugh from the audience.

It was a feel-good event in the East Room, as the honorees stepped forward to receive their awards one by one. Louis-Dreyfus, who channeled Biden’s resume when she starred in “Veep,” jokingly sagged under the weight when the president placed the medal for the arts around her neck. “Wow!” she exclaimed.

Springsteen, with his everyman persona, looked incongruous in a black suit. He was lauded for “his extraordinary contributions to the American songbook, and for being ‘The Boss.’” Poet and author Richard Blanco stunned in a teal tuxedo.

Knight, the “empress of soul,” gave the president a giant hug when he put the medal around her neck. Jaclyn Sallee, who received the medal on behalf of Native America Calling, a podcast and radio show, beamed with pride. So did social historian Earl Lewis, who, according to the president, chronicles African American history and “explores how diversity strengthens our nation.”

Biden joked that he opens his closet to find one honoree, designer Vera Wang, inside — her clothes, anyway — then said, “Your dresses always look beautiful on my wife.”

The medals are Biden’s first batch of awards for the arts and humanities and were delayed by the pandemic. The president surprised Sir Elton John with a National Humanities Medal during a White House musical event last September. He told the crowd how important their work was, in keeping American culture alive and reminding people of our history - even the parts we’d like to forget. The honorees work includes dance, art, design, history as well as music, writing and philanthropy.

“You do make the country better, you make it a better place,” Biden told the crowd before they departed for a White House reception.

The honorees did not perform or speak to the crowd after they received their awards. But the US Marine Corps band that often plays for East Room ceremonies did orchestral numbers of Springsteen hits “Born to Run” and “Born in the USA.”



Bruce Springsteen Is Officially a Billionaire

 Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band perform during a concert at Strawberry Arena in Stockholm, Sweden, on Monday, July 15, 2024. (AP)
Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band perform during a concert at Strawberry Arena in Stockholm, Sweden, on Monday, July 15, 2024. (AP)
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Bruce Springsteen Is Officially a Billionaire

 Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band perform during a concert at Strawberry Arena in Stockholm, Sweden, on Monday, July 15, 2024. (AP)
Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band perform during a concert at Strawberry Arena in Stockholm, Sweden, on Monday, July 15, 2024. (AP)

The Boss is officially a billionaire, Forbes said Friday, estimating that Bruce Springsteen is conservatively worth $1.1 billion.

The guitar hero bard behind hits including "The River" has solidified much of his wealth in recent years, the financial outlet indicated, in no small part due to a blockbuster sale in 2021 of his music catalog to Sony for an estimated half-a-billion dollars.

The deal followed his wildly successful Broadway show run. Now, Springsteen is on a global tour currently set to run through 2025.

According to industry tracker Pollstar, in 2023 Springsteen sold more than 1.6 million concert tickets, raking in $380 million in revenue.

And the 74-year-old "Dancing in the Dark" singer shows no signs of slowing down.

For decades the "Jungleland" songwriter has penned music that focuses a sentimental lens on underdogs and the working class -- and he's sold 140 million albums globally, placing him among the all-time bestselling musicians ever.

A Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee with 20 Grammys and an Oscar to his name, Springsteen is also set to be the subject of a forthcoming biopic, with Jeremy Allen White of "The Bear" fame slated to play him.

His marathon shows are the stuff of legend, with the longest clocking in at more than four hours, a performance he pulled off in Helsinki in 2012.

Other industry heavyweights who have hit the billionaire mark include Rihanna, Jay-Z and Taylor Swift.