Does Donald Trump Still Own The Miss USA Pageant? The Answer Is As Unfortunate As His "Hair"
The man, the myth, the legend Donald Trump has gained quite the reputation over the years for his diverse portfolio of professional endeavors. Real estate magnate, TV personality, presidential candidate tease. Love him or hate him, Trump is everywhere, and he's not going away anytime soon. And to the uninitiated, Trump's ownership of the Miss Universe Organization, which puts on the annual pageants Miss Universe, Miss Teen USA, and Miss USA, which airs Sunday night, may seem like a random purchase (never as random as his clothing line at Macy's). But, Trump has strangely become synonymous with these pageants and still co-owns the Miss Universe organization along with NBC Universal.
Trump bought the Miss Universe Organization in 1996, which he announced in a very Trump-like fashion at a press conference in Atlantic City on October 23 of that year, saying he beat out some other wealthy people and two TV networks for it. For about six years, Trump co-owned the company with CBS, who aired the pageants until 2002, when they sold their share to NBC. Since then, the Miss Universe Organization has been a joint venture between Trump and NBC Universal, and the network has broadcasted all three pageants since 2003.
On the night of the pageants, Trump usually doesn't play a huge role, but outside of the glamour and glitz of the competition, Trump has been the face of the Miss Universe Organization, including public involvement in its many controversies over the years. Who can forget all the hubbub surrounding Trump's press conference addressing Tara Conner, the 2006 Miss USA winner who tested positive for cocaine use during her reign and was reported to have been drinking underage and appearing in racy photos. This all came to an anti-climactic end when Trump didn't fire Conner, even though some still protested (We're looking at you, Rosie O'Donnell.). Also despite some backlash, Trump still allowed Miss USA 2009 runner-up Carrie Prejean to keep her title as Miss California even after her anti-same-sex marriage comments at the pageant drew ire from many, though she was eventually stripped of her title for breach of contract.
Trump grabbed headlines again last year for his Miss USA pageant when a federal judge upheld a $5 million ruling for former Miss Pennsylvania Sheena Monnin's unfounded claims that the pageant is rigged. And then Trump used his Miss Universe platform to invite Russian President Vladimir Putin to attend the competition held in Moscow last November. Putin didn't actually show up, but hopefully it wasn't because he had hard feelings about Miss Universe 2002 Oxana Fedorova, who represented Russia before being dethroned for not fulfilling her obligations under the title.
As for the Miss USA 2014 pageant, it looks like all smiles right now for the contestants and Trump, who even attempts to lip-sync the words to Pharrell's "Happy" while the ladies cut a rug. Since Trump says the Miss Universe Organization has extended with NBC, it looks like Trump will remain a fixture in the pageant world for at least the near future. You can rest easy now.