As President-elect Donald Trump continues to fill positions for his future administration, his most recent nomination is a familiar name in South Florida sports.
Trump’s transition team announced Monday morning that Florida Panthers owner Vinnie Viola is the president-elect's choice for secretary of the Army. Viola, who bought the team in 2013, is a West Point graduate who served as an Army Ranger and in the 101st Airborne Division before starting a successful business career. His Virtu Financial electronic trading firm went public last year, and he has been a chairman of the New York Mercantile Exchange.
“Whether it is his distinguished military service or highly impressive track record in the world of business, Vinnie has proved throughout his life that he knows how to be a leader and deliver major results in the face of any challenge,” Trump said in a statement.
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“If confirmed, I will work tirelessly to provide our President with the land force he will need to accomplish any mission in support of his National Defense Strategy,” Viola said in the statement.
Viola remained a member of the Army Reserves after his active duty service, receiving a law degree before beginning a career on Wall Street. He earned a net worth of over $1.8 billion, according to a Forbes estimate.
Viola has worked with veterans' groups during his business career and while owning the Panthers. The team played a preseason game in October on the West Point campus and has raised funds and donations for groups across South Florida.
If Viola is approved for the civilian post, ownership of the NHL club would remain in his family. Viola would step down from his roles as chairman and governor of the team, and Doug Cifu would assume those duties. Cifu is currently the vice chairman and alternate governor.