Donald Trump sells Miss Universe organization to WME/IMG

Donald Trump, Erin Brady

Donald Trump and Miss Connecticut USA Erin Brady pose onstage after Brady won the Miss USA pageant in Las Vegas on June 16, 2013.

(Jeff Bottari / Associated Press)

Three days after becoming the sole owner of the Miss Universe Organization, Donald Trump has turned around and sold the grouping of pageants to the WME/IMG agency.

The media agency announced the acquisition Monday morning. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The events put on within the Miss Universe Organization include the Miss Universe, Miss USA and Miss Teen USA pageants.

“I have truly enjoyed owning the Miss Universe, Miss USA, and Miss Teen USA pageants,” Trump said in a statement. “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.”


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Trump recently bought out NBCUniversal’s stake in the organization as part of a settlement of his litigation against the company.

As a memory refresher: Trump and NBCUniversal’s joint venture in the organization began in 2002. Univision, meanwhile, was set to begin a five-year deal for the Spanish-language rights to the Miss USA pageant with the July 12 telecast. However, both networks refused to air the pageant after Trump, a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, made controversial comments about Mexican immigrants. Trump then filed lawsuits against both networks. 

The pageant ultimately aired on ReelzChannel -- and finding a new TV partner for the pageant will be on the to-do list for WME/IMG.


Beverly Hills-based William Morris Endeavor and private equity firm Silver Lake Partners purchased New York-based IMG Worldwide in December 2013 for $2.3 billion in a bid diversify holdings by targeting sports. The wide-ranging agency also operates IMG Models.

Sept. 14, 3:31 p.m.: An earlier version of this article stated that William Morris Endeavor and private equity firm Silver Lake Partners purchased IMG Worldwide last spring. The deal actually took place in December 2013.

The addition of the Miss Universe pageants adds another global event franchise to WME/IMG’s portfolio, which includes Fashion Weeks in New York, Berlin, Toronto, Australia and Miami.

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IMG has also served as executive producer of the Miss Universe and Miss USA pageants in the past.

“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,” Mark Shapiro, chief content officer for WME/IMG, said in a statement. “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.”

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