Sheldon Gary Adelson (born August 4, 1933) is an American business magnate, investor, and philanthropist. He is the founder, chairman and chief executive officer of Las Vegas Sands Corporation, which owns the Marina Bay Sands in Singapore, and is the parent company of Venetian Macao Limited, which operates The Venetian Resort Hotel Casino and the Sands Expo and Convention Center.
He owns the Israeli daily newspaper Israel Hayom and the American daily newspaper Las Vegas Review-Journal. Adelson, a philanthropist and donor to a variety of causes, created the Adelson Foundation in 2007 at the behest of his wife, Miriam.
He is a member of the Republican Party, and made the largest single donation to any U.S. presidential inauguration when he gave the Trump inaugural committee US$5 million.
As of October 2018, Adelson was listed by Forbes as having a fortune of US$33.3 billion, making him the 15th-richest person in the world. He is a major contributor to Republican Party candidates. He was the largest donor, of any party, in both the 2012 and 2016 presidential campaigns.
He sat out the Republican primary season during the 2016 presidential campaign but on September 23, he announced a $25 million donation to Donald Trump's 2016 presidential campaign, making him the largest donor to the Trump campaign and the largest donor in the presidential election (although this was less than the $100 million donation some had predicted).
Sheldon Gary Adelson was born in 1933, into a low-income family and grew up in the Dorchester neighborhood of Boston, the son of Sarah (née Tonkin) and Arthur Adelson. His father's family was of Ukrainian Jewish and Lithuanian Jewish ancestry. His mother immigrated from England, and one of Sheldon Adelson's grandfathers was a Welsh coal miner. His father drove a taxi, and his mother ran a knitting shop.
He attended the City College of New York, but did not graduate. He attended trade school in a failed attempt to become a court reporter, then subsequently joined the army.
After being discharged from the army he established a business selling toiletry kits, then started another business named De-Ice-It which sold a chemical spray to help clear frozen windshields. In the 1960s, he started a charter tours business. He soon became a millionaire, although by his 30s he had built and lost his fortune twice. Over the course of his business career, Adelson has created almost 50 of his own businesses, making him a serial entrepreneur.
In the late 1970s, Adelson and his partners developed the COMDEX trade shows for the computer industry, beginning in 1979. It was the premier computer trade show through much of the 1980s and 1990s.
In 1995, Adelson and his partners sold the Interface Group Show Division, including the COMDEX shows, to SoftBank Corporation of Japan for $862 million; Adelson's share was over $500 million.
In 1988, Adelson and his partners purchased the Sands Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, the former hangout of Frank Sinatra and the Rat Pack. The following year, Adelson and his partners constructed the Sands Expo and Convention Center, then the only privately owned and operated convention center in the U.S.
1991, while honeymooning in Venice with his second wife, Miriam, Adelson found the inspiration for a mega-resort hotel. He razed the Sands and spent $1.5 billion to construct The Venetian, a Venice-themed resort hotel and casino. The Venetian opened May 3, 1999.
In the late 2000s, Adelson and the company decided to build a casino resort in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Adelson spearheaded a major project to bring the Sands name to Macau, China. The one-million-square-foot Sands Macao became the People's Republic of China's first Las Vegas-style casino when it opened in May 2004. In August 2007, Adelson opened the $2.4-billion Venetian Macao Resort Hotel on Cotai and announced that he planned to create a massive, concentrated resort area he called the Cotai Strip, after its Las Vegas counterpart.
Adelson's company was reportedly under federal investigation over alleged violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act relating to payments made to a Macau lawyer. In 2015, Sands agreed to pay a $9 million settlement with the Securities and Exchange Commission, which included no admission of wrongdoing.
In May 2006, Adelson's Las Vegas Sands was awarded a hotly contested license to construct a casino resort in Singapore's Marina Bay.
In 2007, Adelson made an unsuccessful bid to purchase the Israeli newspaper Maariv. When this failed, he proceeded with parallel plans to publish a free daily newspaper to compete with Israeli, a newspaper he had co-founded in 2006 but had left. The first edition of the new newspaper, Israel Hayom, was published on July 30, 2007. On March 31, 2014, Adelson received the go-ahead from a Jerusalem court to purchase Maariv and the conservative newspaper Makor Rishon. In 2016 Adelson's attorney announced that he does not own Israel Hayom, but that it is owned by a relative of his.
In 2011, the Israeli press said that Adelson was unhappy with coverage of him on Israeli Channel 10, which alleged that Adelson had acquired a casino license in Las Vegas inappropriately through political connections.
In December 2015 Adelson purchased the Las Vegas Review-Journal newspaper. The purchase was made through a limited liability company called News + Media Capital Group LLC, and his involvement with the deal was initially kept secret.
A week after the purchase was announced, three Review-Journal reporters revealed that the deal had been orchestrated by Adelson's son-in-law Patrick Dumont on Adelson's behalf. Commentators described the $140 million paid for the paper as "lavish" and as a dramatic overpayment, and speculated that the move was a power play to further Adelson's business or political agendas.
Many reporters and editors left the newspaper citing "curtailed editorial freedom, murky business dealings and unethical managers."
On September 23, Adelson announced a $25 million donation to Trump's presidential campaign, as part of a $65 million donation to the Republican electoral campaign for 2016. This makes Adelson by far the biggest donor in either party (Republicans or Democrats) in the 2016 election cycle. It also makes him by far the largest donor to Donald Trump's White House bid.
Adelson's newspaper, the Las Vegas Review-Journal, was the only major newspaper nationwide to endorse Trump.
U.S. policy on Iran
In a panel discussion at Yeshiva University on October 22, 2013, Adelson said that the United States must get tougher about Iran's suspected nuclear weapons program.
Controversy arose when he said: "You pick up your cell phone and you call somewhere in Nebraska and you say 'OK, let it go' and so there's an atomic weapon goes over, ballistic missiles in the middle of the desert that doesn't hurt a soul, maybe a couple of rattlesnakes and scorpions or whatever".
He went on to explain that, after a show of force and a threat to also drop a nuclear bomb on Tehran, the U.S. should then say: if "You [Iran] want to be peaceful, just reverse it all and we will guarantee that you can have a nuclear power plant for electricity purposes, energy purposes."
Adelson's spokesman told reporters that Adelson "was obviously not speaking literally" about using an atomic bomb in the desert, and that he was "using hyperbole to make a point that ... actions speak louder than words".
friend: former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-TX)
Fighting the "mainstreaming" of cannabis legalization is a personal passion of Adelson, whose son Mitchell died of a drug overdose. Mitchell was said to have used cocaine and heroin from an early age.
Repurposing the Israeli-American Council
At the November 2017 conference of the Israeli-American Council, Adelson declared that the organization should become primarily a political lobbying group on Israel-related issues. In contrast to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), which supports a two-state solution and continued aid to the Palestinians, Adelson charted a course for IAC to oppose both of these positions. Israeli journalist Chemi Shalev said that IAC had not intended to become a political pressure group and that Adelson had "hijacked" it.
Adelson and his wife, Miriam Adelson, were presented with the Woodrow Wilson Award for Corporate Citizenship by the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars of the Smithsonian Institution on March 25, 2008.
Adelson received the Chairman's Award from the Nevada Policy Research Institute, a think tank in Las Vegas, for his efforts to advance free market principles in Nevada.
Additionally, President George W. Bush appointed the Adelsons to serve on the Honorary Delegation to accompany him to Jerusalem for the celebration of the 60th anniversary of the State of Israel in May 2008.
In 2014, Adelson was named to CNBC's list of 200 people who have transformed business over the last 25 years; those on the list were described as "top leaders, icons and rebels, a definitive list of people who have had the greatest influence, sparked the biggest changes and caused the most disruption in business over the past quarter century."