Feb 18, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Trump pardons former San Francisco 49ers owner Edward DeBartolo Jr.

Edward Bartolo Jr.

Edward DeBartolo, Jr. speaks during his Pro Football Hall of Fame induction speech in 2016. Photo: Joe Robbins/Getty Images

President Trump pardoned former San Francisco 49ers owner Edward DeBartolo Jr., a billionaire convicted in 1998 on gambling fraud charges, in a surprise decision on Tuesday, the AP reports.

The big picture: Under DeBartolo's ownership, the 49ers won five Super Bowls, establishing a dynasty during the 1980s and 1990s. He avoided prison time, but faced a $1 million fine and a yearlong NFL suspension — ultimately relinquishing control of the team to his sister, Denise York, in 2000.

  • DeBartolo has been a known supporter of the president, hosting a pre-inauguration party in 2017 that featured various then-Trumpworld associates like Michael Cohen and Omarosa Manigault Newman. Trump promoted the event on Twitter.
  • The Washington Post's Philip Bump notes that Youngstown, Ohio, is DeBartolo's hometown — and the decision could be a calculated move to shore up the president's base in an industrial section of the swing state.

What they're saying: The White House announced the pardon with 49ers legends Jerry Rice, Jim Brown, Ronnie Lott and Charles Haley in attendance.

  • "He’s the main reason why we won so many Super Bowls," said Rice. "So today is a great day for him. I’m glad to be here and be a part of that. It’s just something I will never forget. This man, he has done so much in the community, has done so much in NFL football."
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