Donald Trump is cashing out of the beauty pageant business.
Within days of gaining complete control of the Miss Universe Organization by buying NBC’s half, the billionaire businessman and current GOP presidential front-runner flipped his entire stake in the enterprise to the WME/IMG talent agency.
The self-proclaimed master negotiator wasted little time in divesting himself of the organization, now that he is devoting full time to winning the White House. “Terms of the sale to WME/IMG were not disclosed, but Alan Garten, general counsel at the Trump Organization, told [the New York Post] that Trump ‘did very well.’”
The organization runs the Miss Universe, Miss USA, and Miss Teen USA pageant competitions.
“WME/IMG reportedly produces more than 20 fashion weeks a year and previously served as an executive producer of the Miss Universe competition, which is distributed in more than 190 countries,” Reality TV World reported.
“IMG had already worked with Miss Universe on licensing deals in the past. The pageants are a natural fit with IMG’s focus on owning event franchises that yield big media rights and sponsorship deals. The company earlier this year bought the Professional Bull Riders sports league for the same strategic rationale,” Variety added.
One of WME/IMG’s owners, Ari Emanuel, supposedly inspired the Ari Gold character played by Jeremy Piven on Entourage.
Since 2002, Trump and NBC were approximately 50-50 partners in the organization. With The Donald buying out NBC’s shares as he announced via Twitter on Friday, and thereby ending an ongoing legal feud, he became full owner before selling off the entire venture.
Both NBC and Univision cut ties with Trump and dropped plans to broadcast the July 12 Miss USA pageant from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, after Trump’s June 16 presidential announcement included controversial remarks about rapists and illegal alien criminals allegedly coming across the southern border from Mexico.
The pageant subsequently aired on a relatively obscure cable network on a one-time basis.
As a result, Trump filed a $500 million lawsuit against Univision for breach of contract. Although Trump’s tweet on Friday announcing the Miss Universe acquisition indicated that pending lawsuits with NBC were settled, it’s unclear as to whether he actually ever initiated a legal complaint in court against NBC.
Just purchased NBC’s half of The Miss Universe Organization and settled all lawsuits against them. Now own 100% -- stay tuned!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 11, 2015
In a statement, a WME/IMG executive conveyed enthusiasm about its new acquisition.
“Having worked closely with The Miss Universe Organization in the past, we understand the incredible potential of the events and the star-quality of the participants. The global reach of The Miss Universe Organization and the content opportunities presented by the pageants make this a strong, strategic addition to our portfolio.”
Trump also issued a statement about the 100 percent sale of the Miss Universe Organization.
“I have truly enjoyed owning the Miss Universe, Miss USA, and Miss Teen USA pageants. When I purchased the pageants many years ago, they were in serious trouble. It has been a great honor making them so successful and I have really enjoyed watching the pageants grow throughout the USA and worldwide. The pageants are now in the hands of a great company that will shepherd them to even greater levels of success.”
WME | IMG has acquired The Miss Universe Organization, which includes MISS UNIVERSE®, MISS USA®, and MISS TEEN USA®: pic.twitter.com/73KNDsmhMM— IMG (@IMG) September 14, 2015
According to Forbes, offloading the pageant venture may have been a good deal for all parties concerned, provided the new owner finds a TV outlet.
“It’s easy to imagine that NBC let the pageant go for a reasonable price: The Miss Universe and Miss USA telecasts typically perform reasonably well, but they’ve never been the bread and butter for the network. Miss USA ratings have been on a downward trend since 2005. Though it will likely be easier without Trump attached, WME/IMG now carries the daunting challenge of finding a broadcaster for the pageants, which could prove particularly difficult given the recent controversy surrounding them.”
Donald Trump’s financial disclosure required of a presidential candidate “indicated that the joint venture was worth between 45 million and $25 million. [The] Miss Universe Organization generated $3.4 million in income for Trump in 2014,” CNN Money explained.
[Photo By Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images Entertainment]