Sheldon Adelson, GOP Megadonor Who Founded Las Vegas Sands, Dies

Sheldon Adelson, GOP Megadonor Who Founded Las Vegas Sands, Dies

Sheldon Adelson, a billionaire casino magnate whose huge political donations made him a top influence on the Republican Party and President Donald Trump, has died. He was 87.

Adelson was the founder and CEO of the Las Vegas Sands Corp., which announced his death Tuesday from complications related to treatment for non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. 

Adelson was 17th on the Forbes 400 list of the richest Americans in 2020, with a fortune estimated at $26.8 billion.

He lavished political contributions on Republican politicians and was Trump’s largest donor. He famously made the largest single donation to any U.S. presidential inauguration ― a sum of $5 million ― to Trump’s inaugural committee. 

He and his wife, Miriam, pumped at least $205 million into campaign and party committees and super PACs to support Republican politicians over the 2016 and 2018 election cycles, according to Federal Election Commission records.

Adelson didn’t back Trump in the 2016 GOP primary ― his pick was Newt Gingrich. But he sank millions into Trump’s general election campaign. Since then, he has shown enormous influence on Trump’s policies, including scrapping the Iran nuclear deal and moving the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.

In February 2017 ― weeks after Trump took office ― Adelson met with the president, ProPublica reported. A day later, Trump met with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. The president stunned the Japanese leader by asking his government to approve Adelson’s bid for a Japan casino, according to the report, which cited two people present at the meeting.

The Adelsons also contributed $500,000 to a legal defense fund set up for Trump and his associates being investigated by special counsel Robert Mueller.

Trump awarded Miriam Adelson a Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2018.

Sheldon Adelson, CEO and founder of the Las Vegas Sands, has died.

Adelson also was a strong financial backer of Israeli causes and was a supporter of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. He and his wife had contributed some $410 million to the Birthright nonprofit, which funds trips to Israel for young people who are Jewish.

Las Vegas Sands operates the Venetian and Palazzo resorts on the Las Vegas strip, in addition to casinos in Macau and Singapore.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

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