Fact Check

Did Michelle Obama's Mother Leave an Inheritance to 'My Son Michael'?

A routine review of content labeled satire.

Published Oct 22, 2019

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Michelle Obama's mother left an inheritance to "my son Michael."

On Oct. 22, 2019, the ObamaWatcher website published an article positing that former first lady Michelle Obama's mother passed away and left an inheritance to her "son" Michael:

Michelle Obama’s Mother Dies, Leaves Inheritance to ‘My Son Michael’

Michelle Obama’s mother, Mary McGillicuddy Robinson, has died at the age of 84. She went peacefully in her sleep before being mostly devoured by her Lhasa Apso, and Chicago police have ruled out any foul play. The real story, however, is how she worded her Last Will and Testament. According to Illinois Comptroller and Keeper of the Public Record, Art Tubolls, “Michelle” doesn’t legally exist:

“Mrs. Robinson’s will clearly states that her possessions should all go to ‘my son, Michael Robinson Obama.’ In Illinois, a person can’t legally change their gender, so she had to use his real name or she wouldn’t have gotten anything.”

This item was not a factual recounting of real-life events. The article originated with a website that describes its output as being humorous or satirical in nature. In addition, the article exploits an unfounded fringe conspiracy theory about the former first lady's gender identity.

For background, here is why we sometimes write about satire/humor.