A remarkable man has passed, casino magnate Sheldon Adelson. He was an adept businessman and staunch Israel supporter. Of note, he threw his weight to Donald Trump.
Dubbed the Republican party’s kingmaker. Adelson even offered some of his $36bn (£27bn) fortune to help build an embassy. What a remarkable rise for the son of Jewish immigrants born in a one-room tenement in Boston in the middle of the Great Depression.
As young as twelve, he used a $200 loan from his uncle to “buy” a corner on which to sell newspapers. From there on he worked hard to amass his wealth. He dropped out of college to join the US Army before finding work as a court stenographer on Wall Street.
The world of finance would mark his first real monetary success, but it didn’t hold. He would try his hand at various opportunities over time. Some recall Comdex, an expo for the relatively new computer trade in Las Vegas that was first held in 1979. It would become the biggest in the world. He was more interested, however, in renting convention centers.
Ultimately, Adelson entered the casino business – but later in life. This is how most remember him today. He loved gambling and delighted in his newfound prospect.
It is said that the Las Vegas’ Sands Hotel and Casino – the setting for much of the film Ocean’s Eleven – caught his interest in the late 1980s.
And so the Sands Expo Convention Center was born, with a slightly outdated adjacent casino. The ailing casino was demolished and a mega-resort stood in its place – the Venetian. Today, the Las Vegas Sands Corp owns eight other resorts in the US, Macau and Singapore.
Adelson’s support of Israel was equally important to him and his wife, Miriam. Plus, he used his millions to affect millions of people worldwide. He used his empire wisely for medical research, drug addiction treatment and a number of Jewish causes, Yad Vashem and Israel’s Holocaust memorial trust.
He had some pretty blatant views on the Palestinian question and entered into political debates on Israel, leading him to support certain politicians. In 2012, he said to Forbes,
“I’m against very wealthy people attempting to or influencing
elections, but as long as it’s doable, I’m going to do it.”
Republican fundraiser Fred Zeidman said that the $10 million given to Republican hopeful Newt Gingrich in 2012 “is a substantial donation, but not really substantial for the Adelsons.”
Adelson’s fortune was soaring into the billions. Reportedly, in 2013 he was earning $41 million a day. In 2015, Donald Trump knew Adelson’s backing would be vitally important. The key to unlocking Adelson’s backing was a promise to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. This is why Adelson gave $82 million to Trump and the Republicans.
The embassy ploy was surely one of the crowning achievements of Adelson’s rich life. Less than a year after, his company announced he had non-Hodgkin lymphoma … and the rest is history.