Donald Trump's presidential campaign is only two weeks old, but it's already costing him -- both financially and in his image as as a shrewd businessman.
The offensive comments Trump made about Mexicans at his campaign kickoff in mid-June have unleashed a wave of backlash that has badly damaged the Miss Universe pageant, which he co-owns with NBC Universal. On Tuesday, Mexico said it would not participate in the pageant, and a TV company owned by Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim nixed a planned project with Trump.
The latest developments followed NBC Universal's announcement on Monday that it had joined Univision in severing ties with the Miss Universe and Miss USA pageant series over Trump's claim that many Mexican immigrants to the U.S. are "rapists." The move could potentially could cost Trump millions. By Trump’s own financial estimates, the beauty pageant series -- which Trump co-owns the rights to, along with NBC Universal -- is worth $14.8 million to him.
Since NBC has cut ties with the Miss Universe pageant, msnbc anchor Thomas Roberts will not be participating as a co-host of the pageant. On Tuesday, Roberts wished the contestants luck. Miss Universe organizers say the contest will go on as planned, but as of now it has no broadcast partner. On Tuesday, Trump filed a $500 breach of contract lawsuit against Univision. Trump has also threatened legal action against NBC.
"As a consequence of their inappropriate actions, Univision and NBC have abandoned 51 wonderful young women who have come from all over the United States to pursue their dream of being crowned Miss USA," Trump said in a statement Tuesday. "Their participation in this globally renowned pageant has come at great cost and after years of sacrifice and hard work. NBC and Univision have wronged them greatly."
He expanded on his criticism of the networks during a reception in his honor late on Tuesday in Bedford, New Hampshire. Trump claimed that Univision and NBC have "abandoned" the Miss USA contestants, who he described as "51 wonderful girls," at the site of the pageant in Louisiana.
"What they did, what NBC and Univision did to these young women was disgraceful, they never had them in mind. They never even thought about it," Trump said.
Trump -- who values his assets at $8.7 billion -- isn't in danger of running out of cash anytime soon, but the controversy signals that his brash, and at times offensive, political statements may hurt the business empire that put him on a national stage in the first place.
NBC Universal (the parent company of msnbc) said Monday it had dropped Trump over his recent "derogatory statements." During his rambling, off-script presidential announcement earlier in June, Trump said Mexican immigrants are primarily criminals and “rapists." Later, Trump attempted to walk back his comments.
"Many bad people are coming in and I'm not talking Mexico, I'm talking about from all over the world and I say that. They're coming from all over. Many bad people are coming in," he said in an interview with msnbc's Jose Diaz-Balart. "You're going to have terrorists coming through the southern border, there's no question about it."
Cheryl Burke, the "Dancing with the Stars" champ who planned to host this year's Miss USA, also bowed out on Tuesday. The hosts of the Spanish-language simulcast on Univision, Roselyn Sanchez and Cristián de la Fuente, pulled out last week.
Trump hit back at NBC Monday over its decision to cut business ties.
"If NBC is so weak and so foolish to not understand the serious illegal immigration problem in the United States, coupled with the horrendous and unfair trade deals we are making with Mexico, then their contract violating closure of Miss Universe/Miss USA will be determined in court,” Trump said in a statement.
A Trump spokesman declined to comment further for this story.
This isn’t the only multi-million deal Trump’s 2016 bid has cost him: the candidate told CNN that his decision to run had cost him "hundreds of millions of dollars in deals and potential,” including another season of his NBC reality show, "The Celebrity Apprentice."
"Essentially, legally, I'm not allowed to do it,” Trump told CNN regarding why he could not continue with the show while running for president.
Now that NBC and Univision have stopped doing business with the candidate, critics are pressuring Macy’s, a retailer that carries Trump products, to follow suit.
“In the last few days, Donald Trump has proven what Macy’s should have already known for years. Donald Trump’s brand of bigoted bullying is simply bad for business,” Angelo Carusone, a Media Matters staffer who has organized against the Macy's deal with Trump for years, said in a release. "It’s time for Macy’s to follow the lead of NBC and Univision and finally dump Trump."
More than 710,00 have signed the petition urging Macy’s to stop selling Trump products.