Peter Thiel Explains Why He’s Backing Donald Trump

The tech billionaire who is one of the most powerful men in Silicon Valley sounded almost naïve as he sat before a roomful of reporters on Monday in the nation's capital to explain his $1.25-million donation to help elect Donald Trump [pictured above].

"I didn't think as much about the donation as much as I should have," Peter Thiel said in his halting voice that makes every phrase sound thought out. "I didn't even think that Trump needed my money."

Thiel has thought a lot about the donation since it became public in early October, facing down widespread rejection in Silicon Valley, including an effort to oust him from the board of Facebook, a company in which he was an early investor.

Monday's appearance at the National Press Club was part of Thiel's counteroffensive that also included an interview with the New York Times aimed at explaining his support for Trump and broadening his public profile. Thiel made no apologies for supporting the Republican presidential nominee, while conceding he has been surprised by what he called a "visceral reaction" in socially liberal Silicon Valley, where he is practically alone among major tech figures in donating to Trump.

Thiel, who co-founded PayPal, pointed out that he is known for his contrarian streak. He funds a fellowship geared toward persuading students to drop out of college, a project trying to extend life using technology and an organization that wants to build a floating city free from government. He also funded a massive libel lawsuit on behalf of former wrestling star Hulk Hogan that shut down Gawker, years after it disclosed that Thiel is gay.

"This is the first time I've done something that's actually conventional," Thiel said of donating to a major-party presidential nominee. "It didn't feel contrarian."

Thiel has hardly been private about his support for Trump....

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