All eyes were on Mar-a-Lago or “the winter White House,” as The New York Times called it, during Donald Trump’s presidency. POTUS #45 spent countless weekends at his exclusive, members-only club in Palm Beach, Florida and even hosted presidential meetings there, including one with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in 2018.
As interest in the club rose, everyone wanted to know more about Mar-a-Lago’s nearly 500 paying members (the club costs $200,000 to join and $14,000 in annual fees) and thanks to membership lists obtained by The New York Times and Politico, we now have a better idea of who is allowed in. As the outlet notes, potential new members need to be sponsored by existing ones and only 20 to 40 new people are selected to join each year. Among the diverse names The New York Times spotted, there were “dozens of real estate developers, Wall Street financiers, energy executives and others whose businesses could be affected by Mr. Trump’s policies.”
In April 2021, Sylvester Stallone made headlines for reportedly becoming a Mar-a-Lago member, but a spokeswoman was quick to squash the rumor, telling People that the actor “was an invited dinner guest at the Club but is not himself a member there.” As of March 2021, Mar-a-Lago was partially closed down and reports were circulating that longtime members were leaving the club, but plenty were also staying and a number of them are names you’re likely to recognize. Here are the celebs we know are members of Mar-a-Lago.
Author James Patterson got insider dirt from Mar-a-Lago
In 2017, Politico obtained Mar-a-Lago membership lists naming “at least 25 current or former company CEOs, as well as dozens of lawyers, doctors, investors and philanthropists.” Among them was James Patterson, who has called Palm Beach home for decades. In 2010, the best-selling author sold his “Everglades Island home” (purchased in 1999) to move into a $17.4 million oceanfront mansion, per The Palm Beach Post. Located at 710 Ocean Boulevard (nicknamed Billionaires Row), the 21,000-square-foot home is next to John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s former residence and is also “close to the Mar-a-Lago club,” per Rabideau Klein.
In addition to his proximity to the club, Patterson also appears to be friendly with Donald Trump. He received the National Humanities Medal from the president in 2019 and has never been openly critical of him, once telling The Palm Beach Post, “I don’t think Trump intentionally breaks the law — ever.” What’s more, it seems being a member of Mar-a-Lago has helped fuel his work. While penning “Filthy Rich: The Jeffrey Epstein Story,” the author used his connections at the club to dig up new information on the convicted sexual predator. The author told The Palm Beach Post that a former Mar-a-Lago spa manager told him Trump banned Epstein from the club, because he acted inappropriately towards underage girls at the spa. Patterson also reportedly learned about another Mar-a-Lago member who, per New York Magazine, told Trump that the disgraced financier had acted inappropriately towards his daughter.
Bill Belichick's longtime friendship with Donald Trump
New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick has been close with Donald Trump for years, so it’s no surprise that, according to Politico, he’s one of Mar-a-Lago’s celebrity members. Belichick and Trump are so tight, in fact, that the NFL great once wrote such a supportive letter to Trump that the then-presidential hopeful actually read it during a rally in New Hampshire in 2016. In it, Belichick congratulated Trump on “a tremendous campaign” and sang his praises, writing, “You have dealt with an unbelievable slanted and negative media, and have come out beautifully — beautifully. You’ve proved to be the ultimate competitor and fighter,” he continued, gushing, “Your leadership is amazing.” The note concluded with Belichick telling his friend, “Hopefully tomorrow’s election results will give the opportunity to make America great again.”
It sounds like a full-on endorsement, but the coach appeared to backtrack on his words when, days later, he told reporters, per USA Today, “Our friendship goes back many years,” but underscored the fact that “my comments are not politically motivated.” However, he couldn’t help but concede he has “a friendship with Donald” and, as Tom Brady highlighted during the same press conference, Trump has been a longtime supporter of the New England Patriots. “He’s been to a lot of games over the years and been in our locker room a lot, certainly at some of our bigger games,” he noted, adding, “That was long before he was ever a politician, too.”
Beth and Howard Stern love being a part of the Palm Beach community
Shock jock Howard Stern and his wife, Beth Stern, love Palm Beach so much that they eventually hope to leave New York and call Florida home year-round. Back in 2013, the radio personality and his wife, a model and animal rights advocate, bought a 19,000-square-foot oceanfront mansion located at 601 N. County Road for a cool $52 million, per Palm Beach Daily News. Speaking with City and Shore about the investment, Beth gushed, “I’m excited to be part of the community. I hope people are open to me participating.” Explaining why she and her husband wanted to make the move, she continued, “Ultimately, we felt Palm Beach was the right choice for us. We have friends in Palm Beach and have spent many weekends, so we just ended up having a little life there, and we said let’s start looking at houses,” she said.
Another draw? Mar-a-Lago. In 2017, Politico confirmed that Beth is a member and while the lists they consulted didn’t appear to name Howard outright, the longtime friend of Trump is no stranger to the private club. In 2017, he called it “heaven,” per The Palm Beach Post, quipping, “I like it. It’s got a great barbecue.” And in 2019, he revealed to The New York Times that he’s actually been at the club on some momentous occasions. “I was at Mar-a-Lago around when it was announced that Donald was going to run for president,” he shared.
Avram Glazer is a well-known fixture in Palm Beach
Not only does Donald Trump have a close friend in New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, but he’s also tight with Avram “Avie” Glazer, the co-owner of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Manchester United F.C. In addition to sharing a love of football with Trump, Glazer is also a well-known fixture in Palm Beach and a member of Mar-a-Lago, per Politico. What’s more, he’s no stranger to making headlines. Over the years, Avie Glazer and his wife, Jill, have regularly been in the news due to their real estate dealings. First, for selling their landmarked house at 5 Middle Road for $12.6 million in 2014, per Palm Beach Daily News, then for being sued by the general contractor who worked on their new home. In 2018, Benitz Building LLC, which renovated the property at 195 Via Marina Avenue that the couple bought in 2007 for $9.3 million, took the Glazers to court for unpaid “labor and construction costs.” According to The Real Deal, Benitz Building LLC worked on the house from 2014 to 2017 and was owed $572,950.
Additionally, support of Trump appears to run in the Glazer family. In March 2018, The Undefeated noted that Avie’s brother, Edward Glazer, “donated $98,000 to Trump’s 2016 campaign and gave another $250,000 toward the president’s inauguration,” and hosted a fundraising bash for Trump’s reelection at his California home in 2018.
James Dolan tied the knot at Mar-a-Lago
James Dolan, the executive chairman of Madison Square Garden Sports Corp. (which controls the New York Knicks, New York Rangers, and Rockettes), has never shied away from openly speaking about his ties to Donald Trump. As he told ESPN in 2018, “I’ve known him for a long time. I got married at Mar-a-Lago. I’m a member of Mar-a-Lago, and I support him as a friend.” He even slammed Trump critics, reasoning, “You don’t have to agree with everything that he’s doing in order to support him … I don’t understand people who wish our president to do badly. Why would you wish your president to do badly? It’s like wishing that your milkman will bring you sour milk,” Dolan concluded.
And his support goes far beyond a few nice words. In September 2016, Dolan donated $300,000 to Trump Victory, as well as $2,700 directly to Trump’s campaign, per New York Daily News. He then pledged $125,000 toward Trump’s re-election campaign, per NJ.com, and made headlines when he had the Rockettes perform at Trump’s inauguration. As Marie Claire learned, Dolan held a meeting with the dancers to address their qualms about the performance in which he told them, “It’s a huge moment in the country’s history. … We are an American brand, and I think it’s very appropriate that the Rockettes dance in the inaugural and 4th of July and our country’s great historical moments.”
Mar-a-Lago is a 'dream' for Debbie 'White Dove' Porreco
You may not know Debbie “White Dove” Porreco, but if you’ve watched Disney’s “Pocahontas,” then you’ve seen a depiction of the Native American princess based on Porreco’s ancestor. Born Debbie White Dove Custalow, Porreco grew up on Virginia’s Mattaponi Indian Reservation and is the daughter of the tribe’s chief. She claims to be Pocahontas’ descendant, but when Trump took to calling Sen. Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas,” she didn’t mind. Speaking with The Palm Beach Post in 2017, Porreco explained, “He asked me one time at Mar-a-Lago. He said, ‘Do you mind me using ‘Pocahontas’ for American Indians?′ I said, ‘It doesn’t bother me.’ It’s just a term,” she continued. “He’s not saying anything bad about Pocahontas, or bad about Native Americans. Sometimes people read into things too much … they are just looking to say something bad about him,” she concluded.
Porreco’s comments are less surprising when you consider the fact that she and her late husband, Lou Porreco, joined Mar-a-Lago in the late ’90s. They became close with Trump and Debbie (who is an ardent Trumpette) told Palm Beach Daily News she was actually invited to celebrate his inauguration at the Capitol, but chose to attend the Mar-a-Lago bash instead. Showcasing just how deeply her ties run, she told Palm Beach Daily News in 2013, “Sometimes when I’m dining at Mar-a-Lago, I think to myself, ‘You’ve come a long way from that Indian reservation you started in.'” She added, “Pocahontas had dreams and went to England. My dreams brought me to Palm Beach.”
Chris Ruddy is known as 'the King of Trump TV' for good reason
Chris Ruddy, the CEO of Newsmax Media and a former journalist for The New York Post, became “the King of Trump TV” when Donald Trump got serious about running for office. As the Financial Times notes, it was “one of the first media [organizations] to take the Trump campaign seriously and to write about it in positive terms.” And Newsmax continued to support Trump to the very end, even backing his claims of voter fraud in 2020. Speaking with The New Yorker, Ruddy, who founded the conservative media company in 1998, explained his stance, saying, “[Trump] was President of the United States, so we have been editorially supportive of him and his policies. I’m not thinking that we’re here to say he’s a great guy. We’re here to say, ‘We agree basically with his tax deregulation and free-market approaches to government policy.'” That said, the “longtime Mar-a-Lago member” was honest about his relationship with Trump, noting, “We’re friends. He’s called me twice in the past five days.”
Ruddy’s affinity for Mar-a-Lago was put on display in 2018 when he decided to conduct an entire Financial Times interview at the club, boasting that he often brings guests to the exclusive establishment. And when critics wondered if Trump’s constant trips to Mar-a-Lago would pose a conflict of interest, Ruddy defended his friend and the club, telling The New York Times, “It’s a myth to think that anybody could just join the club and go speak to the president.”
George Norcross and Donald Trump are two peas in a pod
George Norcross and Donald Trump’s friendship goes way back. According to WNYC, Trump became a “New Jersey political insider” while operating his since-demolished Atlantic City casino and it was all thanks to Norcross. They shared a personal and business relationship in which they golfed together and Trump granted the insurance executive and South Jersey Democratic Party boss the insurance contract for his Atlantic City casino. According to Philly Mag, Norcross was even invited to Trump’s wedding to Melania. As the future president once enthused, “I love being with George because every outing is a competitive one.” And it seems he also loved Norcross’ political influence. In 2003, for example, Trump was accused of using their friendship to pass “a favorable piece of legislation” regarding taxes on his casino, per The New York Times, and in 2006, he filed a libel suit in Camden County against Tim O’Brien, who penned “Trump Nation,” because, according to WNYC, that was “Norcross’ power center” and he allegedly believed he’d be able to swing the verdict in his favor.
Not surprisingly, The New York Times was able to confirm that Norcross is a member of Mar-a-Lago, and Insider NJ went as far as to describe them as “2 Peas, 1 Pod.” They’re so close, in fact, according to Palm Beach Daily News (via NJ.com), Trump gave Norcross his blessing on the purchase of a Palm Beach home, calling the property “spectacular — an exquisite location.”
William Koch was all for Trump becoming president
William “Bill” Koch may be “the Kochs’ lesser-known other brother,” as Vanity Fair called him, but his resume isn’t any less impressive. As the Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of the Board of Oxbow Carbon LLC, he’s at the head of “the world’s largest producer of calcined coke, a key ingredient in the manufacturing of aluminum, and a key supplier of sulphur, sulphuric acid and fertilizers.” With a net worth of $1.6 billion, per Forbes, Koch earns more than enough to pay for a membership at Mar-a-Lago, which he has, according to The New York Times.
Koch, a Palm Beach resident, became estranged from his brothers, Charles G. and David H. Koch, after he sold them his shares in their father’s company, Koch Industries, in 1983. A messy legal battle that lasted over a decade ensued as William alleged “fraud and conspiracy in the sale of his shares,” per The New York Times, and later “challenge[d] the will of their late mother, who disinherited” him. He further alienated himself from his siblings in 2016 when openly supported Donald Trump’s bid for president — something his brothers refused to do publicly, despite being Republicans. As Page Six reported, Koch and his wife actually hosted a fundraiser in support of Trump at their Cape Cod home, with tickets costing between $2,700 and $50,000.
Howie Carr went from 'fearless journalist to Trump's loudest fan'
Boston radio host Howie Carr has an impressive resume, but his support of Donald Trump has made some question his career. As Carr boasts on his website, he’s a Boston Herald columnist, a New York Times best-selling author, and a radio host who’s been inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame. But in 2018, Boston magazine couldn’t help but wonder, “Did he sell out, or buy in?” after he went “from fearless journalist to Trump’s loudest fan.”
The criticism of Carr’s Trump support didn’t make the broadcaster any less vocal. For one, he hosted Trump onto his radio repeatedly throughout his campaign, “including election night,” per Boston magazine. He also “hosted rallies” for Trump’s election, then, he and his wife, Kathy, joined Mar-a-Lago. Jump to 2018 and he published a book called “What Really Happened: How Donald J. Trump Saved America from Hillary Clinton.” The list goes on, culminating in January 2021 with a Boston Herald column titled “Thanks for everything, President Trump.” In it, Carr lists off all the reasons he is thankful for Trump, leading with, “Thanks for the balance in my 401(k), tax cuts for the middle class and destroying ISIS.” He added that he and “all of us Deplorables … just want you to know how much we appreciate the four years you gave us to prepare and fortify ourselves for the impending disaster ahead. We’ll be back, Mr. President, and so will you,” Carr concluded.
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