Sheldon Adelson. A True American Success Story

Let me be Very clear on this: I could care less what you think of this man’s political dealing or his support of candidates. It was His money, He earned it and He could Spend it Any Way He Liked!

If you can match your life story to his, I may listen to what you have to say.  Otherwise, sit down, shut up and maybe you will learn something about this (still) great country of ours and about one man who helped keep it that way.

Sheldon Adelson, the founder of the Las Vegas Sands Corporation. The company that gave us the Venetian and Palazzo Resorts.  The company also gave Las Vegas tourism an extra boost with the creation of the Sands Convention Center. Putting seven thousand suites in the hotels with two million square feet of modern convention and meeting space on the Las Vegas Strip. We like that!

He was one of only two Americans (the other one was Steve Wynn) to receive a license from the Chinese government to open up casinos in Macau, China. That boosted our international tourism to record numbers.  That visionary leader, Sheldon G. Adelson, passed away last night at the age of 87 from complications related to treatment for non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.

The Man Had a Story Like Few Others

When I tell my tour guests who this man is/was, I always explain that he is a true “only in America” success story.  As he explained in an editorial posted in the Boulder City Review: “I’ve often said the story of my career would be a true rags-to-riches story, except for the fact that my parents couldn’t even afford the rags.” – He was not joking.

Like other American success stories, he started life with no advantages except some loving parents who instilled in him the need to help others even when you need help yourself.  He had to leave school early in order to earn a living to help the family survive. Yet he ended up building a corporation that employs thousands of people around the world. And never forget the people who helped him out along the way.

I believe that to start out in life dirt poor and to end it as being one of the wealthiest (and most generous) people in the world is a story by itself.  With an estimated net worth of roughly $35 billion dollars, making him the 28th-richest person in the world and 17th in the Forbes 400. Not bad when you realize all that he had done not only in the world of business but in philanthropy.  If you can leave this world better than when you came into it, that’s a nice way to leave.

The Venetian Resort

Leading By Example

Sheldon Adelson and his wife Miriam did not just talk about things that need to be done, they backed up their words with actions.  When the pandemic struck, he tried his best to keep the staff employed. He made sure they had their wages and their benefits paid.  While encouraging other resort business owners to do the same.  In the world at large, they gave heavily to worthy causes around the world, especially when it came to Jewish causes and the human needs in Israel.

When word got out that there were two million surgical masks available in China, but they were not going to last very long.  It was the Las Vegas Sands Corporation that flew one of their 767 jets into china to get them and bring them back here. One million to first responders in New York and one million for Las Vegas first responders.  It wasn’t cheap to do and it wasn’t easy.  But Sheldon Adelson made it happen.

I often remember going to the Sands website for some needed information and seeing press release after press release announcing some large donation of money or equipment to charities of all sizes. These donations were often for Las Vegas’ needs as well as causes worldwide. In many cases, these donations were made without any fanfare or big media announcement. They just happened.

Sheldon Adelson Jets
The Las Vegas Sands Hanger at McCarren International Airport – Sometimes referred to as “Sheldon Adelson Airport”

Enemies for Good

Here in Las Vegas, it seemed like Mr. Adelson was always in a battle with his neighbor and fellow casino mogul Steve Wynn. They argued often and publicly about some of the pettiest stuff.  From the number of parking spaces in their parking garages to the advertised sizes of their suites.  However, out of those battles came great competition and that competition helped cement Las Vegas into the destination capital of the world.

Right now, I would give almost anything to have these two champions of Las Vegas tourism back in their positions of power.  I would love to see what the two of them would do with Las Vegas and with our power-hungry governor.  How their battles for business would certainly help kickstart the rebuilding of  Las Vegas.

Yes, I know they were business advisories, but I also know they respected each other greatly. They were leaders who loved Las Vegas and they loved helping people succeed in life.

In the end, with all the other drama happening in Las Vegas, if not the world, waking up to read of his passing this morning wasn’t how I was wanting to start the day!

Las Vegas, if not the world, lost a great man last night.  His time on earth was well used and his actions changed the lives of many people for the better.  He will certainly be missed.

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