money man

Tech billionaire Peter Thiel says he got it “wrong” supporting Donald Trump

Peter Thiel and Donald Trump
Peter Thiel and Donald Trump (YouTube/Shutterstock)

The tech billionaire and political donor Peter Thiel has given a lengthy interview to The Atlantic. In it, the gay entrepreneur explains why he believes donating millions of dollars to Donald Trump was “wrong”.

He also says that despite his record of backing far-right Republicans, he won’t be doing so again in the run-up to the 2024 election.

Thiel was one of the co-founders of PayPal, which made him a fortune when he sold it to eBay in 2002. He was also a very early investor in Facebook, buying a 10% slice of the company when it was just starting. That made him a further fortune when he sold his stake in 2012.

Since then, he has plowed his money into further start-up investments and political causes. He is a libertarian, opposed to big government or state intervention in personal liberty.

Despite his sexuality, he’s also vehemently opposed to identity politics, and diversity and inclusion initiatives.

Republican National Convention

Peter Thiel speaks at the Republican National Convention in 2016
Peter Thiel speaks at the Republican National Convention in 2016 (Photo: Shutterstock)

Thiel first publicly endorsed Trump at the 2016 Republican National Convention. He says Donald Trump Jr saw that he was down to attend and invited him to speak.

Thiel was attracted to Trump Snr’s promise to rip everything up and do things differently.

“‘Make America great again’ was the most pessimistic slogan of any candidate in 100 years, because you were saying that we are no longer a great country,” Thiel says. “And that was a shocking slogan for a major presidential candidate.”

However, Thiel thought it was a message people needed to hear – and that it would win them over.

“Voting for Trump was like a not very articulate scream for help,” Thiel now says. He realizes that Trump’s idea of ripping up convention led to chaos and not a new way of doing things.

“There are a lot of things I got wrong,” he said. “It was crazier than I thought. It was more dangerous than I thought. They couldn’t get the most basic pieces of the government to work. So that was—I think that part was maybe worse than even my low expectations.”

That said, he says he doesn’t regret what he did to support Trump. But he won’t be doing it again. He’s already made this fact known to the former President.

Turning Trump down for money

Thiel says he avoided taking calls from Trump earlier this year but finally had to do so in late April. Trump reminded him that he’d backed Blake Masters and JD Vance in their Senate races. Vance won but Masters lost. Thiel had donated $10 million to each, and Trump wanted the same amount.

Thiel declined.

Trump “told me that he was very sad, very sad to hear that,” Thiel recalled. “He had expected way more of me. And that’s how the call ended.”

Thiel later heard via Masters that Trump allegedly called the investor a “f*cking scumbag” for refusing to donate further money to him.

Thiel went on to say he was giving the interview to The Atlantic to go on record as stating he won’t donate any more money to politicians in the next Presidential campaign. He appears to believe lawmakers make big promises before entering office, but then lack grand ambition or the ability to do much once they gain power. He wants them to not bother him with calls seeking donations.

Online, many expressed skepticism toward Thiel turning his back on Republicans.


Besides not donating to politicians, Thiel also doesn’t appear keen on donating to the less fortunate. When the interviewer mentions the terrible poverty and inequality around the world, Thiel says, “I think there are enough people working on that.”

Thiel goes on to suggest that there’s a growing view among some in Europe and the US that, “philanthropy is something an evil person does … What are you atoning for?”

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