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Trump fallout causes Miss USA pageant’s TV viewership to plummet

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Phil McCarten/Miss Universe Organization

It comes as no surprise that the crowning of the new Miss USA on Sunday was witnessed by far fewer viewers than usual this year.

In the wake of the controversy caused by Donald Trump’s offensive comments about immigrants during his speech to announce his presidential candidacy in June, two major carriers dropped the broadcast. As a result, TV viewership of the pageant, which is part of Trump’s co-owned Miss Universe organization, was lackluster. A mere 925,000 people tuned in for the Sunday telecast according to Nielsen estimates, marking an all-time low.

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Prior to Trump’s remarks, the 2015 Miss USA Pageant had been scheduled to appear on NBC and Univision. However, both NBCUniversal and Univision cut business ties with the pontificating presidential hopeful after his infamous speech, pulling the pageant from their networks just weeks before the event. A small cable channel called Reelz picked up the show 10 days prior to the pageant “based on [its] belief that this special event, and the women who compete in it, are an integral part of American tradition,” according to CEO Stan E. Hubbard on July 2.

The Miss Universe organization also streamed the event through the official Miss USA YouTube channel, bringing in an additional 37,874 viewers at its peak during Sunday’s live stream, according to TheWrap.

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Even with the live streaming views added in, this year’s Miss USA viewership didn’t come close to the contest’s usual standards. When Miss USA aired on NBC last year, it attracted almost 5.6 million viewers — despite competition from the NBA Finals. It’s safe to say that Trump’s words had an impact on the pageant’s success (or lack thereof). Unfortunately for the contestants, who participated on July 12 in Baton Rouge, La., they were caught in the crossfire. Winner Miss Oklahoma, Olivia Jordan, still got her crowning moment, but it probably wasn’t quite as big as she expected.