Sheldon Adelson, the multibillionaire casino mogul, conservative donor and philanthropist, died last week from “complications” of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma according to his wife, Miriam Adelson.
A self-made billionaire, Forbes calculated his worth at nearly $35 billion in January 2021, making him one of the wealthiest men in the world.
Aside from his casino business, Adelson is most known to Americans for his proilific financial support of conservative causes and to Republicans such as former President George W. Bush, and to presidential contenders such as Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich. During Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential bid, Adleson spent $20 million on the campaign and then $5 million more for his inauguration. During the 2018 midterm congressional elections, Adelson and his Israeli-born physician wife contributed more than $123 million to Republican and conservative causes, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
During the 2020 elections, the Adelsons donated $75 million to the pro-Republican “Preserve America” political action committee.
Adleson was also a prolific donor to Jewish and Israeli causes, donating hundreds of millions to Taglit-Birthright Israel, which has sent hundreds of thousands of young Jews to Israel on free 10-day trips. They are also major donors to AIPAC, the Friends of the Israel Defense Forces, Yad Vashem and the Israeli-American Council.
Born in 1933 in Boston – the son of a taxi driver and knitting-shop owner – he grew up impoverished during the Great Depression in the city’s Dorchester neighborhood, making his first foray into business at the age of 12 selling newspapers.
After serving in the Korean War, he worked at a variety of jobs and made investments, beginning his rise in the late 1970s when he and four partners started the Las Vegas computer trade show Comdex. It grew to become the nation’s top computer exhibition throughout the 1980s and 1990s. In 1989, he purchased the Sands Hotel and Casino, knocking it down to build the $1.5 billion Venetian Resort Hotel Casino in 1999. Eventually, he built and expanded into other gaming markets, including Singapore and Macau, where he built the $2.4 billion Venetian Macao.
After Donald Trump became the Republican contender in 2016, he endorsed the New York real estate mogul and announced a $25 million donation to his presidential campaign, making him the biggest single donor in either party during that year’s election cycle.
A stalwart supporter of Israel, Adelson was seen as one of the driving forces behind some of Trump’s pro-Israel policies, including moving the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and exiting the 2015 Iranian nuclear deal.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that he received news of Adelson’s death with “deep sorrow and heartbreak.”
“Sheldon’s tremendous efforts to strengthen Israel’s position in the United States, and to strengthen the connection between Israel and the Diaspora, will be remembered for generations,” said Netanyahu.
Through the Adelson Family Foundation, the Adelsons donated to a wide array of educational initiatives, founding the Dr. Miriam and Sheldon G. Adelson Educational Campus in Las Vegas, supporting the B’nai B’rith Young Organization (BBYO), American Friends of Ariel University and the Rashi School in the Boston area.
Through the Dr. Miriam and Sheldon G. Adelson Medical Research Foundation, the Adelsons provided grants for basic and clinical research into life-threatening illnesses.
And as the owner of Israel Hayom and the Las Vegas Review-Journal – and a contributor to JNS.org – Adelson had a significant impact on the news media.
Adelson was buried in Israel.
– JNS.org and jewishjournal.org