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Las Vegas millionaires bet big on DeSantis

Updated July 15, 2022 - 4:46 pm

Las Vegas millionaires are betting big on Ron DeSantis.

The Florida governor’s largest political action committee has taken in millions from the city’s most influential donors, including a whopping $10 million from Budget Suites owner and aerospace entrepreneur Robert Bigelow.

Bigelow’s July 7 contribution is the largest ever received by the PAC, Friends of Ron DeSantis, coming as the governor openly flirts with a 2024 Republican presidential bid. The money is nominally allocated for DeSantis’ re-election campaign as Florida governor, but will be spent on a campaign if he decides to challenge former President Donald Trump.

Neither DeSantis nor Trump have formally announced whether they will seek the White House in 2024.

Bigelow made his fortune, estimated at $700 million by Forbes in 2011, through the Budget Suites hotel chain and has spent much of it on his aerospace company. His now-defunct firm Bigelow Aerospace planned to launch a privately funded space station in 2021. Last year, the company sued NASA for $1 million over unpaid bills.

Many recognizable Las Vegas names have contributed money to DeSantis’ PAC since 2018, including Steve Wynn, Sheldon Adelson and UFC President Dana White.

— Robert Bigelow, owner, Budget Suites – $10,000,000

— Dr. Miriam Adelson and the late Sheldon Adelson, Las Vegas Sands Corp. – $500,000

— William Foley, owner, Las Vegas Golden Knights – $400,000

— Steve Wynn, casino magnate – $100,000

— Craig Estey, owner, Dotty’s – $90,000

— Joseph Otting, U.S. comptroller of the currency in the Trump administration – $65,000

— Frank Fertitta, CEO, Station Casinos and owner, UFC – $63,000

— Lorenzo Fertitta, director, Red Rock Resorts – $50,000

— Phil Ruffin, owner, Treasure Island and Circus Circus – $50,000

— BetMGM, MGM subsidiary – $50,000

— Dana White, president, UFC – $40,000

— Michael Gaughan, owner, South Point – $25,000

The Review-Journal is owned the Adelson family, including Dr. Miriam Adelson, majority shareholder of Las Vegas Sands Corp.

Contact Nick Robertson at NRobertson@reviewjournal.com. Follow @NickRobertsonSU. Review-Journal staff writer David Wilson contributed to this report.

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