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Sheldon Adelson dies at 87; casino mogul and philanthropist was key supporter of Trump, Netanyahu

Sheldon Adelson listens as New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie speaks during a Republican Jewish Coalition event, March 29, 2014, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)
Sheldon Adelson listens as New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie speaks during a Republican Jewish Coalition event, March 29, 2014, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)

Las Vegas mogul and philanthropist Sheldon Adelson, known for his patronage of US President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, has died at the age of 87, his wife says.

Miriam Adelson says: “It is with unbearable pain that I announce the death of my husband, Sheldon G. Adelson, of complications from a long illness.”

“He was the proudest of Jews, who saw in the State of Israel not only the realization of an historical promise to a unique and deserving people, but also a gift from the Almighty to all of humanity,” she says.

Adelson and his wife, Miriam, backed Trump to the tune of $30 million in 2016. They followed that by contributing $100 million to the Republican Party for the 2018 midterm elections.

US President Donald Trump, right, pats Las Vegas Sands Corporation Chief Executive and Republican mega donor Sheldon Adelson on the arm, before speaking at the Israeli American Council National Summit in Hollywood, Florida, December 7, 2019. (Patrick Semansky/AP)

In all, Adelson donated over $250 million to GOP candidates and super PACs since 2015. That includes $10 million they gave to America First Action in 2018, FEC records show. During the 2020 elections, the Adelsons also gave $75 million to a new super PAC that attacked Joe Biden.

The Adelsons had almost single-handedly bankrolled the group behind Newt Gingrich’s presidential bid in 2012 before shifting their personal fortune toward Mitt Romney’s campaign.

Adelson was a supporter of Netanyahu and funder of the pro-Netanyahu Israel Hayom paper.

American billionaire businessman and philanthropist Sheldon Adelson (R) and his wife Miriam, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara attend the Israeli Presidential Conference at the International Conference Center in Jerusalem May 13, 2008. (Anna Kaplan /FLASH90)

Born in Boston in 1933, the son of a cab driver saw stunning success in the business world before becoming one of the Republican Party’s most influential benefactors and a key figure in Israeli philanthropy and politics.

The super donor rarely spoke publicly but in a 2016 Washington Post column endorsing Trump, he defended his right to opine. “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,” he wrote.

“So, tell me I’m not a conservative-enough Republican or I’m too hawkish on Israel or whatever else you may think, but I think I’ve earned the right to talk about success and leadership.”

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