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Steve Wynnn - Biography

Sept. 12, 2017, 3:05 p.m.

Steve Wynn is an American business magnate famous for building high end casinos like The Mirage and The Bellagio in Las Vegas. By extensively expanding and rejuvenating the Las Vegas Strip, he played a major role in the resurgence of the internationally renowned strip which is known for its concentration of resort hotels and casinos. Wynn is known for building extravagant properties sparing no expense, and is one of the biggest developers in Las Vegas having overseen the construction and development of several luxury resorts like Wynn Las Vegas, Wynn Macau, and Encore Las Vegas. Born as the son of an enterprising bingo-parlor operator, Wynn enjoyed a privileged childhood. He inherited his father’s business acumen and mother’s aesthetic sense and grew up to be a smart young man. His father did not want his son to get into the bingo business and sent him to the University of Pennsylvania so that he could study and pursue a more respectable profession. However, his father died shortly before Steve graduated, plunging the family into heavy debt. Aged just 21 at that time, Steve Wynn relinquished a position at Yale Law School and took charge of his family's business. Working tirelessly, he re-established and expanded his father’s business and over the decades rose to become one of the country’s leading hotel and casino moguls.

 

Childhood & Early Life

  • He was born as Stephen Alan Weinberg in New Haven, Connecticut on January 27, 1942. His father Michael ran a string of bingo parlors while his mother Zelma was a dedicated homemaker who took care of Steve and his younger brother Kenneth. His father changed the family’s last name from "Weinberg" to "Wynn" when Steve was six months old.
  • In spite of being an enterprising and successful businessman, Michael developed an addiction to gambling and lost much of his wealth. Nonetheless he was determined to give his sons a good life and encouraged Steve to study well so that he could pursue a more stable profession instead of getting into the bingo business.
  • Steve Wynn went to the Manlius School from where he graduated in 1959. Then he enrolled in the University of Pennsylvania.
  • His father died in March 1963 during open-heart surgery. He was only 46 years old. Though heartbroken at the loss of his beloved father, Steve managed to graduate with a B.A. in English literature the very same year.

 

Career

  • The Wynn family was plunged into financial crisis after the death of his father who left behind gambling debts that totaled $350,000. Since Kenneth was just ten years old at that time, the burden of providing for his family fell upon Steve’s shoulders.
  • Steve, along with his new wife, took charge of the family business and worked hard to re-establish it. Within a year he had expanded the business and transformed it into a profitable one.
  • He moved to Las Vegas in 1967 and was able to purchase a small stake in the Frontier Hotel and Casino. He became acquaintances with E. Parry Thomas who was known to be one of the most influential bankers in Las Vegas. Thomas, who was the president of the Bank of Las Vegas, which was the only bank at the time that would extend loans to Las Vegas casinos, helped Wynn in procuring several land deals.
  • Steve Wynn acquired a controlling interest in the Golden Nugget Las Vegas, a landmark downtown casino, in 1971. He renovated and expanded the casino from a gambling hall to a resort hotel and casino. The revamped Golden Nugget became a huge tourist attraction.
  • During the 1980s, he built the Mirage, a 3,044 room Polynesian-themed hotel and casino resort located on the Las Vegas Strip. It was the first time Wynn was involved with the design and construction of a casino. The hotel, which opened in November 1989, featured innovative and extravagant themes such as an erupting volcano which made it one of the most lucrative casinos in Las Vegas.
  • He worked on building an even more luxurious resort, Bellagio, in the 1990s. Estimated to have cost around $1.6 billion, the resort is undoubtedly one of the world’s most spectacular hotels. Opened in 1998, the Bellagio was the most expensive hotel in the world at the time it was built.
  • In 2005, the luxury resort and casino, Wynn Las Vegas, was opened. The resort covers 215 acres and includes a casino, a convention center and several thousand square feet of retail space. It has 45 floors, with 2,716 rooms.
     

Major Works

  • The Mirage, which opened in 1989, is considered one of the most luxurious hotels built by Steve Wynn. With a cost of US $630 million, it was the most expensive hotel-casino in history. Actual gold dust was used in the tinting process of the hotel’s distinctive gold windows.
  • The Bellagio is another one of his opulent luxury resorts and hotels. Famed for its elegance, the Bellagio features an artificial lake which houses the Fountains of Bellagio, a large dancing water fountain synchronized to music. The two towers of Bellagio collectively have over 4,000 rooms.

 

Awards & Achievements

  • The Association of Travel Marketing Executives awarded Steve Wynn the ATLAS Lifetime Achievement Award for his innovation in building resorts in Las Vegas in 2005.
  • He received the Manfred Steinfeld Humanitarian Award at the 22nd Annual Platinum Circle Awards in 2009.
     

Personal Life & Legacy

  • Steve Wynn married Elaine Pascal in 1963. The couple divorced in 1986 only to remarry in 1991. They divorced again in 2010. They have two daughters, Kevyn and Gillian.
  • He married Andrea Danenza Hissom in a ceremony at the Wynn Las Vegas in 2011.
     

Philanthropic Works

  • He made an anonymous donation of $2 million to the United Way of Southern Nevada in 2012, a fact which he later admitted to.
     

Net Worth

  • As of 2015, Steve Wynn has a net worth of $2.9 billion.

 



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