Steve Wynn Biography: Reviving Las Vegas

Steve Wynn

Steve Wynn is probably best known for single-handedly reviving Las Vegas through the development of high-end resorts like the Mirage and the Bellagio. When it comes to the casino industry, Wynn knows what he is doing. His casinos have attracted people from all over the world, leaving them with a positive impression as to what Las Vegas has to offer.

To learn more about Steve Wynn's impact on Las Vegas over the years and for a little insight into his personal life, please continue reading this thorough biography.


Early Life

Stephen Alan Weinberg entered the world on January 27th, 1942. He was the first-born son of a wealthy family from New Haven, Connecticut. It wasn't until he turned 4 years old that his father chose to change the family name to Wynn instead of Weinberg in an effort to avoid the anti-Jewish discrimination that was prevalent during that time.

Steve Wynn, as he would forever be known, grew accustomed to a cushy lifestyle from a very early age. His father owned several successful bingo parlors all over the East Coast and was eager to flaunt the family's money through the purchase of large mansions and luxurious vehicles. Wynn always sported brand-name clothes and accessories and was given just about anything he asked for. To say he was spoiled would be an understatement.

Wynn's family eventually moved to Utica, New York, so Wynn could attend one of the most prestigious private schools in the United States: the Manlius School. He worked hard to get straight As, managing to graduate at the top of his class in 1959. From there, he would attend the University of Pennsylvania, where he would receive his Bachelor of Arts in English literature.

At the beginning of his senior year of college, Wynn was trying to decide what his next steps would be. He was contemplating going to law school. Before any plans were set in stone, he was devasted by the news that his father had passed away while in the middle of his open-heart surgery. Not only did Wynn have to deal with the loss of his father, but he also had to deal with the $350,000 worth of unknown gambling debts that his father left behind.

Wynn's future was practically determined for him at that point. He had to take charge of his family business and try to dig his father out of debt. It took him several years to accomplish this, and once it was done, he was more than ready to embrace some new business ventures of his own.

Impact on Vegas

Wynn and his wife moved to Las Vegas in 1967. Wynn's first piece of business there involved him purchasing a small stake in the Frontier Hotel and Casino. This would be the first time he invested his hard-earned money into a Las Vegas casino, but it certainly wouldn't be his last.

The money he earned from the Frontier, along with the funds he earned through his wine importation side business, gave him enough capital to buy a controlling interest in Las Vegas' Golden Nugget. His vision for the Golden Nugget was clear; he wanted a fully renovated, modern-looking casino and resort that appealed to the wealthy. The Golden Nugget was a huge success, attracting people from all over the world. When it came time to sell the Golden Nugget in 1987, Wynn was able to walk away from the deal with $440 million in his pocket.

Now he was ready to move to the Las Vegas Strip. His next big project was the Mirage. His goal was to make the Mirage the most memorable casino ever to appear on the Strip. This estimated $630 million project was a huge risk for Wynn, as he had to use high-yield bonds to fund the project. Luckily, when the Mirage opened its doors in 1989, Wynn quickly discovered that the risk was worth the reward. People were drawn to the Mirage for its South Pacific theme, its signature gold windows, its realistic replica volcano, and its tropical indoor rainforest.

Other casinos on the Strip were forced to do renovations to compete with the Mirage. The Strip was slowly turning into a more appealing vacation hotspot, making it the perfect time for Wynn to start working on his first family-friendly resort. Treasure Island Hotel and Casino, as it would soon be called, opened in 1993 and has since been known for its epic pirate theme. Every night, simulated pirate battles take place on the lake in front of the casino. It has a pool, a large arcade, and planned activities for kids to participate in. Thanks to Treasure Island, more people started bringing their families to visit Las Vegas than ever before.

From there, Wynn moved on to one of his most noteworthy achievements: the Bellagio. This casino opened its doors in 1998, and at $1.6 billion, it was the world's most expensive casino at the time. Its Italian renaissance theme and luxurious dancing fountains have made it one of the most iconic spots on the Strip. People are also attracted to its conservatory and botanical gardens. This casino is yet another example of how Wynn raised the bar for other casinos in the area.

In 2005, Wynn opened another multi-billion-dollar casino: Wynn Las Vegas. Located on the site of the former Desert Inn, Wynn Las Vegas is a gorgeous 5-star resort that is packed full of entertainment. You'll find everything there from shops to theaters to the Strip's only golf course. This casino has provided over 9,000 job opportunities to the Las Vegas area. Wynn opened the Encore Casino and Resort on the same property as the Wynn about three years later. Modeled after the Wynn, Encore has many of the same features and has been able to provide an additional 5,300 job opportunities.

Wynn's casinos are not limited to Las Vegas. He built a second Golden Nugget in Atlantic City, New Jersey, the Beau Rivage in Biloxi, Mississippi, and both the Wynn Macau and Encore Macau in Macau, China. No matter where he builds his casinos, you can expect them to be of very high quality.

Steve Wynn Gives Back

In 2011, Wynn donated $2 million to United Way of Southern Nevada. With his generous donation, they were able to give $500 bank gift cards to 2000 families in time for Christmas that year. The following June, an additional 2000 families, who were struggling due to the increased unemployment rate, received $500 bank cards. United Way received hundreds of thank-you cards from families who were impacted by his gift; they used the money to pay their bills, buy presents for their children, and pay for childcare so that they could get back out into the workforce.

Starting in 2013, Steve Wynn started donating $5 million per year to the University of Iowa's Institute of Vision Research. This facility is very important to him because he suffers from retinitis pigmentosa, which is a degenerative eye disease that leads to tunnel vision and eventual blindness. He understands how difficult it can be to struggle with vision problems, and he hopes that the money he donated will be used to find a cure for his disease and other diseases like it.

Wynn also regularly donates money to the Communities in Schools foundation, which works with approximately 2,300 schools across the United States. Their goal is to provide schools with the resources they need to help students who are under the poverty level. They give out clean clothes and warm meals often and will even provide emotional support and counseling to the students when needed. Wynn has a soft spot for at-risk children, which is why he chose to faithfully support this organization.

Personal Life

In 1963, Wynn married a woman named Elaine. They had two daughters together, Kevyn and Gillian. After 23 years of marriage, the couple chose to get divorced for unknown reasons. Just 5 short years after that, the couple would rekindle their love and marry again. This time, their marriage lasted for about 19 years, and the divorce was nasty. Elaine fought hard to receive more than $740 million worth of Wynn stock in the divorce settlement and made it clear that they would never get back together again.

Wynn did not wait long to find someone new. Soon after the divorce, he started dating Andrea Hissom, a woman he met in the French Riviera on a business trip. The couple quickly became serious and would eventually tie the knot in 2011 despite their 21-year age difference. They now enjoy traveling together, going out to fancy dinners, and relaxing on their yacht.

Wynn is known for his love of fine art. He spends countless hours at private art auctions, trying to find pieces of art that will best compliment his casinos. He has purchased pieces from several famous artists, including Vincent van Gogh, Claude Monet, Pablo Picasso, Andy Warhol, and Johannes Vermeer. He once accidentally bumped his elbow into one of Picasso's pieces, puncturing a hole in it. That incident cost him over $90,000 in repairs to fix.

Wynn recently stepped down as CEO of Wynn Resorts after were reported against him in The Wall Street Journal. Many of Wynn's female employees have come forward to say they were forced to perform sexual acts to him multiple times over the years. Although Wynn made a statement saying, "The idea that I ever assaulted any woman is preposterous," the fact that he stepped down from his CEO position does look suspicious.