16. Sheldon Adelson

The casino king philanthropist

Sheldon Adelson, a casino magnate and major backer of pro-Israel causes. (photo credit: REUTERS)
Sheldon Adelson, a casino magnate and major backer of pro-Israel causes.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
CEO and chairman of Las Vegas Sands, the largest casino company in the United States, of which he owns half, Sheldon Adelson, 85, is a substantial contributor to the coffers of the Republican Party and one of the most generous of donors to Israel and to Jewish causes in general. Through the Adelson Family Foundation, he has donated tens of millions of dollars to Yad Vashem, Birthright, IDC Herzliya, and numerous other causes in Israel, the United States, Singapore and Macao.
His estimated wealth is $38.6 billion. He is the largest-ever donor to Yad Vashem, and he continues to funnel large sums of money into Birthright. He sits on the Board of Directors of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, and he and his wife, during their frequent visits to Israel, make a point of attending the Birthright mega gatherings.
In 2017, Adelson gave $5 million to Donald Trump’s inaugural committee, which was reportedly the largest donation in US history.
A self-made tycoon who delivered newspapers as a boy in Boston and at age 12 established his first business selling toiletries, Adelson, while serving in the US Army, was a court stenographer. He was a drop-out from New York City College, but his philanthropy has earned him honorary degrees and other awards from the University of New Haven, Harvard Business School, Columbia Business School, Tel Aviv University and Babson College. Early in his career, he worked on Wall Street as a mortgage broker and investment advisor.
Together with his Israeli wife Miriam, who specializes in treating drug abuse, Adelson in 2007 established the Adelson Family Foundation, which is a branch of the Adelson Foundation – the other being the Adelson Medical Research Foundation. The AFF works to strengthen Israel and the Jewish people, while the AMRF is dedicated to healthcare.
The Adelson Foundation gives $200 million per year to Israel and Jewish causes, including to education programs for children with special needs and to the Maccabee Task Force which combats antisemitism on university and college campuses across the United States.
Throughout his business career, Adelson created, bought and developed more than 50 different companies, including in the fields of travel and tourism, publishing, real estate brokerage, condominium conversions and more, but is best known for the COMDEX Trade Show for the computer industry; and for the Las Vegas Sands Corporation, which is a leading global developer of integrated resorts that include high-class accommodation, premium gambling facilities, world-class convention, exhibition and entertainment options, diverse gourmet restaurants, huge shopping centers and many other amenities.