Meet the Casino Owner Speaking at the Republican Convention

2 minute read

Recent Republican National Conventions have not had a speaker like Phil Ruffin. A casino tycoon Donald Trump recently joked would manage America’s China policy in his administration, Ruffin is Trump’s longtime business partner and an early donor to his campaign.

The two men have split ownership of the Trump International Hotel & Tower in Las Vegas. Trump was the best man at Ruffin’s wedding. The real estate mogul was so moved by the event, he picked up the $300,000 tab.

Ruffin and Trump share similar business focuses. Trump has built himself by buying or building real estate and selling it for profit. Ruffin bought a Las Vegas hotel at the height of the recession, an investment that has paid off. He starts work from the top floor of his casino at 5 a.m. each morning by reading customer complaints.

The billionaires have been intertwined on the campaign trail. Before a super PAC closed because it was too close to Trump’s campaign, Ruffin was its largest donor. He gave $1 million, money that was ultimately refunded. Ruffin hosted Trump’s victory party at his casino when the Republican presidential nominee won the Nevada caucuses.

Ruffin told the Wichita Eagle he wrote his speech for the convention from scratch and will speak for four minutes. He was an early Trump supporter, telling FOX Business in 2015 that Trump’s rising poll numbers were attributable to “a movement (Trump) has walked into.”

In a May profile of Ruffin and his relationship with Trump, the Financial Times quoted Ruffin about what he told Trump before the nominee jumped into the presidential race.

“I told him don’t run. … I said you are king of the world for God’s sake,” Ruffin said. “You are making a couple hundred million a year. You’ve got all this stuff. He said, ‘It’s broken and I can fix it.'”

More Must-Reads from TIME

Contact us at