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Donald Trump

Donald Trump, Las Vegas
Donald Trump campaigning in Las Vegas
Donald Trump, Las Vegas
Donald Trump campaigning in Las Vegas
Donald Trump's father made his fortune building government-assisted housing in the suburbs of New York City during the booming post-war years.

But when Donald took over the family firm at the age of 25, the good times were over. New York was in financial crisis and the bankrupt city government had no more cash to spend on housing.

The young Donald needed a new way to make money and he saw an opportunity in the depressed economy. It was a chance to get downtown property cheaply.

In partnership with Hyatt, he bought the historic Commodore Hotel in Manhattan. The hotel was nearly bankrupt, but Trump restored it to its luxury status. And he used his father's contacts to get a forty-year tax break worth $161 million.

As New York recovered in the 1980s, a string of upmarket developments brought Trump to the attention of the media. With his glamorous wife Ivana, a former model, he was soon a celebrity.

Next, he turned his attention to the casino business.

Atlantic City was a run-down seaside town on the east coast where the government had legalised gambling in an attempt to stimulate the economy.

When Donald Trump arrived in town, he took over construction of the most expensive casino ever built - the enormous Taj Mahal. Its original owners had gone bankrupt but Trump took a huge risk and used high-interest junk bonds to finish the project.

The Taj Mahal opened in 1990 and Trump called it 'the eighth wonder of the world'. But a year later the casino was bankrupt. It could never make enough money to pay its creditors.

Trump seemed to be in big trouble. But then a strange thing happened; his huge debts saved him. He owed the banks so much money that they couldn't let him fail without losing their investment. He was the first example of a business that was 'too big to fail.' Of course, he exploited this to the maximum.

During the 90s, his roller coaster career put him constantly in the media spotlight. He was America's most famous businessman, and fame - as he well knew - was a financial asset.

By allowing other companies to use his name, he built up a franchising business worth over $250 million. Today the Trump brand can be seen on products ranging from perfume to hotels.

Donald Trump is an example of the strange paradoxes of the modern world. He is famous for being rich, and at the same time, he's rich for being famous. But many think he has less money than he claims. Some say he would be richer if he had invested his father's money in an index fund. Perhaps it's no surprise that he refuses to publish his tax details.

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1  Comprehension - Donald Trump

2  Vocabulary quiz - Donald Trump