Sheldon Adelson, GOP megadonor and casino magnate, dies at 87

Sheldon Adelson, GOP megadonor and casino magnate, dies at 87

Sheldon Adelson, the Las Vegas casino magnate who was a powerful Republican donor and strong supporter of President Donald Trump, has died of complication from “a long illness,” his wife announced Tuesday. He was 87.

“Sheldon was the love of my life. He was my partner in romance, philanthropy, political activism and enterprise. He was my soulmate,” his wife, Miriam Adelson, wrote in a statement.

“To me — as to his children, grandchildren, and his legions of friends and admirers, employees and colleagues — he is utterly irreplaceable.”

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Miriam Adelson, a doctor who was awarded Trump’s Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2018, did not disclose details of her husband’s illness or death.

Sheldon Adelson was chairman and chief executive officer of Las Vegas Sands, the world’s largest casino operator.

His career trajectory charted a rags-to-riches rise from the impoverished son of Jewish immigrants selling newspapers on Boston street corners during the Great Depression to CEO and multibillionaire.

“Despite being the grandson of a Welsh coal miner and the son of a Boston cab driver, I’ve had the remarkable experience of being part of almost 50 different businesses in my more than 70-year business career,” Adelson wrote in the Washington Post in 2016.

Founding Las Vegas Sands in 1988, he was the first to combine luxury hotel-resort casinos with convention centers, allowing attendees to network during the day and let their hair down at night. Mocked at the time, that business model is now reproduced up and down the Vegas strip and worldwide. In 2004, Adelson opened Sands Macao in China, Asia’s first American-style casino.

Adelson suffered from peripheral neuropathy, and was known for riding an electric scooter, since his condition made walking difficult.

The company disclosed two years ago that Adelson had non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. He took a leave of absence recently to resume treatment, with the board of directors installing COO Robert Goldstein as acting chairman and acting CEO.

Bloomberg estimates Adelson’s net worth was just over $33 billion at the time of his death, making him the 38th richest person in the world.

Adelson and his wife donated heavily to the Republican Party over the years, donating $30 million to Trump in the final months of the 2016 campaign. They also contributed another $100 million during the 2018 midterm campaign. Adelson’s favorite political causes included his steadfast support for Israel and opposition to online gaming.

Image: Minyvonne BurkeMinyvonne Burke

Minyvonne Burke is a breaking news reporter for NBC News.

Ben Popken

Ben Popken is a senior business reporter for NBC News.

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