Sheldon Adelson, GOP Financial Backer and Casino Mogul, Dies at 87

The Las Vegas Sands announced the death of its chairman and CEO Tuesday, citing complications from treatment for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma

Last Updated: January 12, 2021 @ 9:04 AM

Sheldon Adelson, billionaire casino mogul and GOP megadonor, died Monday night. He was 87.

The cause was complications related to treatment for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

His fortune came from his casino empire and it was the Las Vegas Sands, for which he was chairman and chief executive officer, that announced his death in a Tuesday statement. The son of immigrants, he grew up in a poor area of Boston, going on to make billions of dollars in the casino industry.

“While his business credentials – having started or been involved in more than 50 different enterprises – are unquestioned, his dedication to philanthropy and commitment to his family will truly be his legacy,” said the statement.

Indeed, Adelson was a prolific donor. Former president Barack Obama joked at the 2013 White House Correspondents Dinner that Adelson had given $100 million to fund “negative ads” about him during the 2012 election, which Obama felt meant he had to “really dislike” him. The New York Times reported he was the largest single donor in that election.

“Sheldon would have been better off offering me $100 million to drop out of the race,” Obama said to applause. “I probably wouldn’t have taken it… but I’d have thought about it.”

Others memorialized him on Twitter Tuesday. Writer Sarah Kendzior let her 610,000 followers know who he was and what he stood for, too: “Whoa. Sheldon Adelson was one of the biggest donors to Trump and the GOP. He was a one-issue donor and his issue was Israel.”

“Sheldon was a true American patriot and a giant among men. He treated his employees like family. His philanthropic generosity changed countless lives. The US-Israel relationship is stronger today because of him. My heart goes out to the Adelson family,” wrote Donald Trump Jr.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, too, offered condolences.