Sheldon Adelson, billionaire Trump backer and Las Vegas Sands CEO, dead at 87

Adelson entered the casino business in 1989

Sheldon Adelson, the founder, chairman and chief executive officer of Las Vegas Sands Corp., has died following a battle with cancer. He was 87.

Adelson was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2019 and recently stepped away from the company to resume his treatment, the company said on Jan. 7.

"Mr. Adelson was the first employee of Las Vegas Sands – "Team Member Number One" he liked to say. Today, more than 50,000 Sands team members have Dr. Adelson and the entire Adelson family in their thoughts and prayers and are grateful to have had their lives touched by a true force of nature," according to a statement from Las Vegas Sands.

Adelson has been a longtime donor to the Republican Party, giving more than $430 million to conservatives during the 2020 campaign. He was an early and longtime supporter of President Trump during his initial and second run for the White House.

Trump and First Lady Melania, in a statement, said the "world has lost a great man" while also acknowledging his humble roots, coming from a blue-collar neighborhood in Dorchester, Massachusetts, to become one of the world's most powerful and wealthiest casino moguls.

"Sheldon lived the true American dream. His ingenuity, genius, and creativity earned him immense wealth, but his character and philanthropic generosity his great name..." the couple said.

The Bush's also expressed their sympathies.

"Laura and I mourn the passing of a friend," former President George W. Bush said in a statement. "He was an American patriot and a strong supporter of Israel. Sheldon was a generous benefactor of charitable causes, especially medical research and Jewish heritage education. He will be missed by many - none more than his beloved family."

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LVS LAS VEGAS SANDS CORP. 44.07 -0.17 -0.38%

Adelson, who is survived by his wife Dr. Miriam Adelson and five children, had a net worth of $35.6 billion as of Jan. 11, according to Forbes.

A funeral will be held in Israel, the birthplace of Miriam Adelson, with plans for a memorial service held in Las Vegas to be announced at a later date, according to the company.

Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images

He entered the casino business in 1989 when he purchased the Sands Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas for $128 million and is credited with helping transform Las Vegas into the top U.S. destination for conventions and exhibitions.

Adelson in 2007 opened Venetian Macao on the Cotai Strip, helping recreate the Las Vegas Strip in the autonomous region of the People’s Republic of China. Three years later, he opened the $6 billion Marina Bay Sands resort in Singapore.