Is Miss Universe a Charity? Not Exactly, But The Organization Isn't Completely Without Merit

For most beauty pageants, every contestant shows up armed with a few things in her arsenal: Impeccable hair and makeup, a striking wardrobe, and most importantly, a really special cause that she feels connected to. Although pageants like Miss America require their contestants to support a charitable organization, not all do — and most pageants aren't even charitable organizations in themselves. With Miss Universe right around the corner, airing Sunday, January 25, which got me wondering about Miss Universe's charitable contributions to society. Are there any? Being that the organization is owned by Donald Trump, my hopes weren't super high, and as it turns out, I was right. Miss Universe is not a charity in and of itself, but to be completely and totally fair, that doesn't mean the organization doesn't support a few good causes.

Need examples? On the Miss Universe website, they list their "charitable alliances," otherwise known as the organizations which they work with every year. It's not clear what "work with" entails, but the site points out something that's most important: Their main cause is HIV/AIDS. What does that mean, exactly?

Basically that the Miss Universe winner will be traveling to raise money and awareness for the cause through the different AIDS organizations that the pageant has chosen to support and work with. Miss Universe's actual statement is this:

Miss Universe’s charitable platform is the fight against the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Over the last decade, every Miss Universe titleholder has traveled around the world championing this cause and creating awareness for HIV/AIDS prevention, HIV testing, and access to medical care.

And as for the organizations they work with, the site lists Aid for AIDS, the Latino Commission on AIDS, Best Buddies, Operation Smile, and Youth Aids, to name a few. This is good stuff, although it doesn't compare to what other pageants are doing. Miss America is really out there kicking butt with the Children's Miracle Network, plus their contestants each come with their own causes that are dear to their hearts (even if John Oliver exposed the phony "scholarship" portion of their work).

Still, it's a comfort to see that the divisive pageant supports important causes at all, especially when their winners travel to other countries to spread the word, like when 2013 winner Olivia Culpo became an Aid for AIDS ambassador before she traveled to Indonesia to talk to the kids there about the gravity of the disease. Say what you will about Trump (seriously, have a field day) and beauty pageants, but at least something good is coming out of all of this.