GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump appears to be reveling in the aftermath of an embarrassing gaffe at the the Miss Universe pageant, which aired on Sunday.
Host Steve Harvey accidentally crowned Miss Colombia the winner, and later had to apologize from the stage and announce the real victor – Miss Philippines. Despite making more mea culpas after the show, Harvey and the pageant were widely ridiculed on social media for an amateurish production.
Trump, who recently sold the rights to the pageant, took center stage without even being in attendance. As The Washington Post reported, the major mistake during the show’s finale cemented the narrative that the Miss Universe pageant suffered without the sure hand of Trump at the reins.
Although Trump initially tweeted support for the show and its new owner, Ari Emanuel of IMG, on Sunday, he retweeted comments made by supporters, who lamented his lack of involvement with the show.
Some others even suggested that their might be some kind of conspiracy behind the botched ending. “I think it was an orchestrated move,” said one Twitter user. “Major publicity for an event no one even knew was happening.”
Eventually, Trump responded in his own words on Monday, tweeting: “Very sad what happened last night at the Miss Universe Pageant. I sold it 6 months ago for a record price. This would never have happened!”
During a Monday interview on NBC “TODAY” Trump suggested that it would be “very cool” to have the Miss Universe crown be shared between the winner and runner-up in the wake of the incident in a “beautiful ceremony” and stood up for Harvey. “Steve Harvey is a great guy … things happen, it’s live television,” Trump said, adding “the new owners are tremendous.”
Prior to Sunday’s incident, the show endured another scandal when Destiny Velez, a.k.a. Miss Puerto Rico, was suspended after posting a series of anti-Muslim tweets in response to a Michael Moore protest outside of Trump Tower in New York City, during which he held a sign that read: “We are all Muslim.”
“All what Muslims have done is provided oil & terrorize this country & many others!!!!!!” she tweeted directly at the documentary filmmaker.
“Her words do not represent the integrity and esteem of our program, nor that of our board members, our sponsors and partners, or the National Organization,” the Miss Puerto Rico Organization said in the statement posted on its official Facebook page.
In September, Trump sold the rights to the pageant, which he has been associated with for nearly 20 years. The sale came amid controversy over his June comments disparaging undocumented immigrants from Mexico as “criminals” and “rapists.” NBC Universal – MSNBC’s parent company – and Univision soon cut ties with the candidate, with the latter network refusing to broadcast any Trump-affiliated pageants going forward.
Meanwhile, Trump and Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas appear to be jockeying for front-runner status in the race for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination. “I think ultimately it’s going to come down to me against him,” Trump told “TODAY” host Matt Lauer on Monday, adding “At some point the peace will end, because we’re going to have to go after each other.”