Trump picks New York businessman Vincent Viola for Army secretary

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Businessman Vincent Viola enters Trump Tower in Manhattan, New York City, U.S., December 16, 2016. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly - RTX2VDW5

Businessman Vincent Viola enters Trump Tower in Manhattan, New York City, on Dec. 16, 2016. Photo by Andrew Kelly/Reuters

WASHINGTON — Vincent Viola is a Brooklyn native, West Point graduate and billionaire businessman who paid $250 million for an NHL hockey team. And if the Senate agrees, he’ll become the next Army secretary.

Viola is founder of several businesses, including Virtu Financial, an electronic trading firm. He also owns the National Hockey League’s Florida Panthers and is a past chairman of the New York Mercantile Exchange.

In a statement Monday, President-elect Donald Trump praised Viola, the son of Italian immigrants, as “living proof of the American dream” who has “long been engaged with national security issues.”

Viola, whose father worked as a truck driver, was the first member of his family to attend college by graduating from West Point in 1977.

He trained as an Airborne Ranger infantry officer and served in the 101st Airborne Division. He is a 1983 graduate of New York Law School.

In 2003, he founded and helped fund the creation of the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point.

Viola bought the Panthers in 2013. Forbes estimates his net worth to be $1.8 billion.

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