Casino mogul and conservative megadonor Sheldon Adelson died Tuesday at the age of 87 after a years-long battle with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.
"Sheldon lived the true American dream. His ingenuity, genius, and creativity earned him immense wealth, but his character and philanthropic generosity his great name," wrote U.S. President Donald Trump in an official statement released Tuesday, in which he too sent heartfelt condolences to the Adelson family and highlighted Adelson's contributions to the State of Israel. "The world has lost a great man. He will be missed," Trump added.
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U.S. conservative personalities were the first to react to the news, with former U.S. President George W. Bush writing that he and his wife Laura "mourn the passing of a friend." He described Adelson as an "American patriot," a "strong supporter of Israel" and a "generous benefactor of charitable causes, especially medical research and Jewish heritage education."
Outgoing Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also sent his condolences in a statement relayed on social media, saying that Adelson's life "represented the best of the American dream," and that "the world, Israel and the United States were safer because of his work."
"No one will fill his shoes," tweeted outgoing U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman on Tuesday, writing that Adelson was "the greatest of Jewish philanthropists" and that while "blessed with vast wealth, he had exceptional humility and faith."
"He climbed from sleeping on tenement floors during the Great Depression as a young boy to literally towering over Las Vegas and beyond. He created countless jobs in the process. And he poured his success into philanthropy - from drug abuse treatment to research into cancer and other diseases to the countless Jewish causes around the world that were especially close to his heart," wrote U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell on Tuesday.
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Donald Trump Jr., President Donald Trump's son, called the casino hegemon a "giant among men" on Twitter.
The Boston-born son of working-class Jewish immigrants, Sheldon Adelson made his fortune from operating casinos around the world and became a major force in both Israeli and U.S. politics.
He used his vast financial resources to alter the media landscape in the former and promote political candidates in the latter. Both Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and outgoing U.S. President Donald Trump considered him one of their most important supporters, and both were indebted to him for helping them win their political battles.
At the same time, his political spending was heavily criticized in both countries and became a symbol of how “big money” was conquering the political arena – especially in the year after the U.S. Supreme Court’s “Citizens United” ruling of 2010, which made it easier for billionaires to spend unlimited amounts of money on political campaigns.
He is survived by his wife, Israeli-born Dr. Miriam Adelson, and four children.