Sheldon Adelson was born on August 4, 1933, in the Dorchester neighborhood of Boston, Massachusetts. His parents were poor, his father a cab driver and his mother a knitting shop owner, both immigrants. Adelson grew up in a small apartment with his family.
In his early years, Adelson demonstrated a knack for entrepreneurship. He started selling newspapers on street corners at the age of 12. In his teens, he ran a candy vending-machine business. Later, he dropped out of the City College of New York and began a string of entrepreneurial endeavors, including selling toiletry kits, chartering tour buses, and brokering ads in financial trade publications.
Adelson’s fortune started to take off in the late 1970s when he and his partners developed COMDEX, a trade show for the computer industry. COMDEX became one of the top computer trade shows throughout the 1980s and 90s. He sold COMDEX for about $860 million in 1995.
Adelson’s most famous venture was his development of the Las Vegas Sands Corporation. He purchased the Sands Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas in 1988. Later, Adelson created the Sands Expo and Convention Center, one of the largest convention centers in the U.S. Adelson’s vision of a luxury hotel and convention center catering to business travelers became a blueprint for the Las Vegas we know today.
In 1999, the Venetian Resort Hotel Casino was opened on the site of the old Sands Hotel. The company would also expand overseas, building the Marina Bay Sands in Singapore and various properties in Macau, a Special Administrative Region of China known for its gambling industry.
In the realm of politics, Adelson was a major supporter of the Republican Party. His financial contributions to conservative causes, particularly after the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision in 2010, gave him significant influence in U.S. politics.
Adelson also ventured into media. He owned the Israeli daily newspaper Israel Hayom and the Las Vegas Review-Journal, among other properties.
On a personal level, Adelson was married twice and had five children. His second wife, Dr. Miriam Adelson, is an Israeli physician who shared her husband’s involvement in political and philanthropic endeavors. The couple established the Adelson Family Foundation to support various charitable causes, particularly those focusing on Jewish and Israeli causes.
Sheldon Adelson passed away on January 11, 2021, from complications related to non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. His legacy is marked by his entrepreneurship, political activism, and philanthropy.