Kirk Kerkorian – The Idol of Donald Trump – He Grew Up Penniless in an Immigrant Family

Kirk Kerkorian - The Idol of Donald TrumpYou’d be surprised to learn about one of the business idols of Donald Trump. He was little known, but he liked it. He was a brave pilot during WWII. When making deals, he was the exact opposite of the future US president – he was the very embodiment of self-discipline, humility, and elegance in stressful situations.

Kirk Kerkorian was a billionaire who achieved everything on his own. Throughout his career, he gained vast experience in the development of hotels and the hotel business in general.

He started penniless after dropping out from one of the Californian schools in the eighth grade. In spite of this, he would become a Hollywood movie mogul, a casino mogul in Las Vegas, and one of the richest people in America. His gratuitous charity also made him one of the country’s most generous magnates.

In many ways, he was the opposite of Mr. Trump, but the latter considered Kerkorian the king of business. While a journalist of the New York Times called the nearly ninety-year-old Kerkorian “the god of all businessmen,” Donald Trump called him “the king” and publicly declared, “I love this guy.”

The stories of the two billionaires have obvious parallels, but the difference of their approaches in achieving the modern American dream is perhaps more interesting.

At the moment of his passing at the age of 98 in 2015, Kerkorian owned most of the major hotels and casinos on The Strip in Las Vegas, but none of them showcased his name. Despite his enormous contribution to the development of the American Mecca of gambling, the name of Kerkorian cannot be found on street signs, in park areas, or in private parking lots.

But in Las Vegas, one could instantly notice the giant gold letters reading “T-R-U-M-P” at the top of the 64-story Trump International Hotel.

Reserved Kerkorian avoided the media. He refused most interviews and lived by his own rules without revealing anything about his personal or business interests. His first commandment was not to talk too much, and the second was not to ever talk about himself.

Donald Trump was known for his self-promotion long before he entered politics. Even before he became the main user of Twitter in the country, he from time to time took on the role of his own PR manager, passing all personal and business information to the press.

In 1989, he even managed to convince everyone that he deserved to be listed on the Forbes billionaire list, from where he would be almost immediately dumped for inflating the value of his assets that turned out to be “almost zero” after being checked by magazine editors.

Kerkorian was not vindictive, even being one of the fiercest competitors in his business. Even after difficult negotiations, as a result, Kerkorian’s business rivals often became his friends. According to his closest partners, he never said anything offensive to anyone.

Mr. Trump’s reaction to his drop in the Forbes list was typical for him: he blamed the late magazine publisher Malcolm Forbes, stating that the latter was “taking revenge on him from his grave.”

Kerkorian tried to avoid fame and any participation in political activity. But at the same time, he admired, perhaps even envied Trump’s ability to easily manage crowds of people. The humble son of illiterate Armenian immigrants fell into a stupor during public speeches. “I wish I could talk like Trump,” he told his friends.

If Kerkorian was alive, he would have been certainly impressed by the audacity of the 2016 Trump presidential race. For Kerkorian, a heroic military pilot, a fearless player who at one time put a million dollars on a roll of dice, an entrepreneur who has repeatedly invested all of his fortune in large-scale projects in Las Vegas, and a supporter of big risky bets, a wager on a chair in the White House would be one of the riskiest bets worthy of admiration.

But even if Kerkorian praised Donald Trump’s campaign, he would not be a big fan of his tweets.


Kirk Kerkorian, “The god of all businessmen,” according to the New York Times, and the “King,” according to Donald Trump.
Kirk Kerkorian, “The god of all businessmen,” according to the New York Times, and the “King,” according to Donald Trump.

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