Sheldon AdelsonBusiness Personality / Philanthropist
Born: 4 August 1933
Birthplace: Boston, Massachusetts
Best known as: The billionaire owner of the Las Vegas Sands Corporation
Sheldon Adelson is a casino tycoon who famously declared he would donate "whatever it takes" to defeat the re-election of President Barack Obama in 2012. That turned out to be over $100 million in donations to Republican candidates, most of whom lost at the polls -- including Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney. Adelson is a self-made billionaire who grew up in a poor neighborhood of Boston, the son of Jewish immigrants from the Ukraine and Lithuania. Successful at a variety of business ventures, he hit it big in the 1980s, thanks to the convention business. Adelson began the Computer Dealers Exposition (Comdex) in 1979, an industry trade show in Las Vegas; by the late 1980s Adelson was in the casino business. He bought the Sands Hotel, demolished it and built an expo center and another casino, the Venetian. Selling Comdex in 1995 reportedly made him half a billion dollars richer, and in the early 2000s Adelson became the first foreign owner of a Chinese casino, on the island of Macau. His casino business kept expanding and Adelson became one of the richest men in the world, at one time behind only Bill Gates and Warren Buffett. Although most of his philanthropic efforts have been directed to helping the State of Israel (he is an avowed Zionist), Adelson became more involved in American politics after 2007. He has lent financial support to a number of Republicans since then, including George W. Bush, Scott Brown, Tom Delay and Rudy Giuliani. He initially backed Newt Gingrich for president in 2012 and donated $10 million to Gingrich's effort during the Republican primary elections; when Gingrich got bumped out by Mitt Romney, Adelson agreed to financially back Romney's presidential aspirations. His reasons for wanting to oust President Obama are both personal and professional: as a Zionist, Adelson rejects Obama's notion that there can be a peaceful two-state solution between Israel and Palestine, and as a casino operator, Adelson has been under investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice since 2010. His Adelson Family Charitable Foundation, established in 2007, donates hundreds of millions of dollars a year to a variety of organizations, including medical research, addiction clinics and Birthright Israel, an organization that encourages Jewish identity by sending kids to tour Jerusalem.
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