WME | IMG has acquired The Miss Universe Organization, which includes Miss Universe,Miss USA and Miss Teen USA, from Donald Trump. The deal comes shortly after Trump had bought NBCUniversal’s interest in The Miss Universe Organization as part of the settlement of his litigation against NBCUniversal. WME in 2011 had entered a partnership on the Miss USA/Universe pageants, expanding on their previous licensing agreement, and IMG has served as executive producers of both Miss Universe and Miss USA pageants. There had been speculation that Trump had been looking to sell his 49% in the events, with WME | IMG as an interested buyer.
“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,” said Mark Shapiro, Chief Content Officer, WME | IMG. “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’s association with Miss Universe came under fire in June when his controversial comments about Mexican immigrants at the event launching his presidential campaign started a firestorm, leading to the pageant’s broadcast partners NBC and Univision both dropping the telecast just days before its airdate, leading to Trump filing lawsuits against both nets. On Friday, Trump tweeted that he had settled “all lawsuits” against NBC while acquiring NBC’s stake in the property, paving the way for the sale. A sale had been considered the only logical outcome as Trump’s association with the brand had become a liability.
“I have truly enjoyed owning the Miss Universe, Miss USA and Miss Teen USA pageants,” said Trump. “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.”
Miss Universe joins WME | IMG’s portfolio of global events and media properties, including more than 20 fashion weeks per year in cities including New York, Berlin, and Sydney; original lifestyle productions including this year’s “Macy’s Presents Fashion’s Front Row” and global lifestyle festivals including Taste Festivals and Lollapalooza. In April, WME/IMG bought the Professional Bull Riders from Spire Capital Partners for about $120 million
The Raine Group and Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP served as WME | IMG’s financial and legal advisors, respectively.