Outgoing President Donald Trump waves farewell as he boards Marine One at the White House in Washington, D.C., on January 20, 2021.
onald Trump never donated to his own reelection campaign, but he did find plenty of other billionaires willing to write him checks. In total, Forbes identified 133 superrich donors who pitched in for Trump’s 2020 campaign.
Trump’s tycoons, who collectively make up about 14% of all American billionaires, tend to fall into a few specific categories. Several were longtime Republican mega-donors, like gambling mogul Sheldon Adelson, who died in January, and his wife, Miriam. Others knew Trump from their days in business, including Texas banker Andy Beal and casino king Phil Ruffin. About one quarter of them made their money in finance and investments, more than any other industry. About 10% got rich in real estate, while roughly the same number earned a fortune from the energy sector. Most of them came from three states: New York (19%), Texas (19%) and Florida (13%).
Sources: Federal Election Commission filings; Forbes Real-Time Billionaires list.
Some clearly benefited from having a friend in the White House. Miriam Adelson received the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Kelcy Warren, chief executive of Energy Transfer Partners, got clearance for his Dakota Access Pipeline, as well as a seat on the board of trustees at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. Harold Hamm, the oil baron, became an informal advisor. Linda McMahon, who is married to WWE Chief Executive Vince McMahon, accepted a role as head of the Small Business Administration, before moving on to chair a pro-Trump super-PAC named America First Action.
On average, the donors contributed about $285,000 to the Trump campaign and its joint-fundraising committees, which split their hauls with the Republican Party. About 9% of Trump’s billionaire donors, however, gave less than $5,000. At least 19 also donated to pro-Trump super-PACs. Unlike other types of political committees, super-PACs can accept unlimited amounts of money. The Adelsons, for instance, gave $90 million to a pro-Trump super-PAC called Preserve America. Marvel Entertainment billionaire Isaac Perlmutter and his wife, Laura, gave $21 million to America First. Kelcy Warren donated $10 million to the same group.
Staff writer at Forbes. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow me on Twitter @mtindera07.