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Ancestry.com's Genealogical Juggernaut

Ancestry.com has built a genealogical juggernaut with the aid of its celebrity research factory
Ancestry.com tracked down every root of the Obama lineage
Ancestry.com tracked down every root of the Obama lineageIllustration by Jon Stich

In July, Ancestry.com announced that it had uncovered evidence that links President Barack Obama, through his white Kansan mother, to one of the earliest known slaves in North America. Obama’s also related to Brad Pitt. The genealogical website says they’re ninth cousins. Warren Buffett is family, too. He’s Obama’s seventh cousin, three times removed. In recent years Ancestry.com has also connected Obama to Sarah Palin, George W. Bush, even Rush Limbaugh—and they’ve got the paper trail to prove it.

Discoveries like these are the work of a subsidiary of Ancestry.com called ProGenealogists, a Salt Lake City-based dream team of more than 30 genealogists who fill celebrity research requests from Ancestry.com’s marketing department. Other notable achievements include linking Twilight’s Robert Pattinson to Vlad III Dracula, Bram Stoker’s real-life inspiration, and Harry Potter’s Emma Watson to a 16th century woman accused of witchcraft.