David Siegel was the timeshare mogul who said in 2012 that his business had become so bad since Barack Obama was elected president in 2008, that if Obama won a second term, he’d close down his company, put all of his employees out of work, and spend the rest of his life sunning himself on a tropical island.
But as things turned out, not even two full years after Obama’s reelection, the Orlando, Florida-based David Siegel is not only still in business, the Westgate Resorts CEO is doing so well that just in recent months he bought himself a Las Vegas hotel-casino, the Cocoa Beach Pier, and an Arena Football League franchise, The Orlando Predators.
The 79-year-old Siegel took a huge financial hit in the economic meltdown of 2008, seeing his personal net worth drop from an estimated $1 billion — he claimed it to be $1.8 billion — in 2007 to $100 million today.
He and his wife Jackie Siegel were the subjects of a highly critical documentary, The Queen of Versailles, which chronicled their attempt to complete construction on their new home — at $75 million the most expensive single-family home in the country, at the time. They never finished building their “Versailles,” though reportedly, Siegel is now resuming work on his 90,000 square-foot palace.
About one month before the 2012 election, Siegel sent a mass mailing to his “valued employees” complaining that his business and financial struggles were all the fault of the current president, Barack Obama.
“Obviously, our present government believes that taking my money is the right economic stimulus for this country,” said Siegel’s October 8, 2012 missive, which made no mention of the previous administration whose policies, economic studies show, were largely to blame for the 2008 collapse that led to Siegel’s struggles.
“When you make your decision to vote, ask yourself, which candidate understands the economics of business ownership and who doesn’t? Whose policies will endanger your job? Answer those questions and you should know who might be the one capable of protecting and saving your job. I can no longer support a system that penalizes the productive and gives to the unproductive. My motivation to work and to provide jobs will be destroyed, and with it, so will your opportunities. If that happens, you can find me in the Caribbean sitting on the beach, under a palm tree, retired, and with no employees to worry about.”
But under the second Obama administration, which has seen U.S. stock markets soar to all-time record levels, David Siegel has not only survived but thrived.
“Nicely done, David! It’s all especially impressive, considering you told us that, if Barack Obama were re-elected, you might have to abandon your business — maybe even leave the country,” wrote Orlando Sentinel columnist Scott Maxwell last week. “Yet, miracle of miracles, you somehow manage to not only stay in this great country and keep your doors open, but even buy an Arena Football League team! God bless America.”
David Siegel plans to convert most of his newly acquired Las Vegas Hotel — formerly the Las Vegas Hilton — into a timeshare property, and to build a new resort on the four-acre Cocoa Beach Pier. He also intends to move his Orlando Predators back to the downtown Amway Center from the University of Central Florida campus where the team now plays home games.
In a final twist, Siegel admitted that his grim, 2012 letter to employees was mostly plagiarized from a chain letter that had circulated on the internet since 2008.