Sheldon Adelson death: Billionaire casino tycoon and GOP donor dies aged 87

Mr Adelson donated more than $250m to the Republican Party since 2015 

Danielle Zoellner
New York
Tuesday 12 January 2021 18:24 GMT
Sheldon Adelson, a casino tycoon and Republican megadonor, has died at the age of 87
Sheldon Adelson, a casino tycoon and Republican megadonor, has died at the age of 87 (AFP via Getty Images)
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Sheldon Adelson, a casino tycoon and one of Donald Trump’s megadonors, has died at the age of 87. 

His death was announced by his wife of nearly 30 years, Dr Miriam Adelson, in a statement released by PR Newswire and the Las Vegas Sands, the casino chain where Mr Adelson served as the CEO and chairman.

“It is with unbearable pain that I announce the death of my husband, Sheldon G Adelson, of complications from a long illness,” Mrs Adelson said. “Sheldon was the love of my life. He was my partner in romance, philanthropy, political activism and enterprise. He was my soulmate.” 

Mr Adelson died in his home in Las Vegas, Nevada, late Monday evening from complications in treatment related to his non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, a cancer that originates in the lymphatic system. 

The news comes after the Las Vegas Sands, the United States largest casino company, announced last week that Mr Adelson would be taking a leave of absence from his role with the company while he focused on his cancer treatment. He first received his diagnosis in March 2019. 

Mr Adelson made a name for himself among the Republican Party by becoming one of the biggest donors for the GOP and prominent candidates. Mr Adelson had donated more than $250m (£183m) to the GOP since 2015, according to the Associated Press

The Adelsons even set a record last year by donating $172.7m to Donald Trump and other Republican groups ahead of the presidential election – the most ever donated from an individual in an election cycle. 

In 2017, Mr Adelson reportedly gave $5m to Mr Trump’s inaugural committee – another record set by an individual donor.

His wealth was estimated at more than $30bn. 

Former president George W Bush reacted to the news in a statement on Tuesday following the announcement. 

“Laura and I mourn the passing of a friend, Sheldon Adelson,” the statement read. "Sheldon battled his way out of a tough Boston neighbourhood to build a successful enterprise that loyally employed tens of thousands – and entertained millions. He was an American patriot and a strong supporter of Israel. 

“Sheldon was a generous benefactor of charitable causes, especially medical research and Jewish heritage education. He will be missed by many none more than his beloved family,” the statement continued. 

The Bush family went on to offer condolences to Mrs Adelson, his children, and his grandchildren. 

Mr Adelson’s businessman mentality started at the age of 12 when he first sold toiletries around his Boston neighbourhood. He went on to serve the US army, where he worked as a court stenographer. Then early in his career, he worked on Wall Street as a mortgage broker and investment advisor. 

He went on to develop many businesses, including creating a number of casino resorts through the Las Vegas Sands Corporation. 

Besides donating to the Republican Party, Mr Adelson also created the Adelson Foundation, which gives money to a number of causes including medical research. About $200m is donated per year to Jewish and Israeli causes, such as education programmes for children with special needs. 

Mr Adelson also owned the Israel Hayom newspaper and was a close friend to prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, though the pair reportedly had a falling out recently due to investigations against the prime minister. 

His wife, who is Israeli, described her husband as the “proudest of jews” in her statement announcing his death. 

The funeral for Mr Adelson will be held in Israel with a memorial service held later in Las Vegas, the Sands announced. 

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