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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."

Go deeper

UN poll: Most see climate change as global emergency amid pandemic

Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg (C) fronts a Fridays For Future protest at the Swedish Parliament in Stockholm in September. Photo: Jonathan Nacksrtrand/AFP via Getty Images

64% of people from around the world say climate change is a global emergency, a United Nations poll published Wednesday finds.

Why it matters: It's biggest global survey on climate change ever conducted, with some 1.2 million participants from 50 countries — including the U.S. where 65% of those surveyed view climate change as an emergency.

Collins helps contractor before pro-Susan PAC gets donation

Sen. Susan Collins during her reelection campaign. Photo: Scott Eisen/Getty Images

A PAC backing Sen. Susan Collins in her high-stakes reelection campaign received $150,000 from an entity linked to the wife of a defense contractor whose firm Collins helped land a federal contract, new public records show.

Why it matters: The executive, Martin Kao of Honolulu, leaned heavily on his political connections to boost his business, federal prosecutors say in an ongoing criminal case against him. The donation linked to Kao was veiled until last week.

How cutting GOP corporate cash could backfire

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Companies pulling back on political donations, particularly to members of Congress who voted against certifying President Biden's election win, could inadvertently push Republicans to embrace their party's rightward fringe.

Why it matters: Scores of corporate PACs have paused, scaled back or entirely abandoned their political giving programs. While designed to distance those companies from events that coincided with this month's deadly siege on the U.S. Capitol, research suggests the moves could actually empower the far-right.