Wynn Resorts CEO Steve Wynn: 'Nobody Likes Being Around Poor People'
Photo via Flickr/Håkan Dahlström
Wynn Resorts chairman and CEO Steve Wynn is already in the midst of an acrimonious legal battle with his ex-wife and former Wynn Resorts board member Elaine Wynn. But now the company's co-founder finds himself in hot water over controversial comments he made during a recent meeting with investors.
The 74-year-old put his foot in his mouth when discussing Wynn Resorts' business strategy, saying:
"This company caters to the top end of the gaming world. We're sort of Chanel or Louis Vuitton, to use the comparison, the metaphor of the retail business. But unlike Chanel and Louis Vuitton, we are able in our business to cater to all of the market. By making our standards so high...that everybody wants to be in the building," said Wynn, according to a transcript of the call.
"Or to put it in a more colloquial way, rich people only like being around rich people. Nobody likes being around poor people, especially poor people. So we try and make the place feel upscale for everyone. That is to say we cater to people who have discretion and judgment and we give them a choice and we are consistent in that."
While the comments prompted immediate outrage, with Wynn's name trending on social media websites like Facebook on Friday, the company feels they've been taken out of context.
In a statement made to Boston.com Friday, company spokesman Michael Weaver said the comment was "made in the context of a discussion that the company creates luxurious resorts which have an aspirational appeal to a broad range of guests."
The Mayor of Everett, Massachusetts — where Wynn Resorts is hoping to build a $2 billion casino — Carlo DeMaria, Jr. also came to Wynn's defense.
"What he’s saying is, it's all about the experience," DeMaria told Boston.com. "We want to be somewhere that's as nice as it can be. At his facilities, you can get a hamburger for $10 and a steak for $200."
The recent controversy comes on the heels of Wynn Resorts' announcement for a resort expansion project that would bring the first-ever recreational lake to the Las Vegas strip.
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