Donald Trump's Miss USA beauty pageant has been saved from TV oblivion after Reelz, a cable news channel, announced Thursday morning that it would air the event.
The future of the pageant was unclear after both NBCUniversal and Univision ended their partnership with Trump, co-owner of the event, within a few days of each other. Both companies bailed out after Trump's comments about Mexican immigrants that he delivered during his presidential campaign kick-off speech.
The real-estate magnate's description of Mexican immigrants as "drug dealers" and "rapists" sparked outrage across the nation and led to the severing of multiple business deals and partnerships, including those alliances that supported the pageant. Following Trump's comments, the co-hosts of the pageants, as well as the majority of the judges, also cut ties with the event.
"We're a little company that happens to have been caught between two behemoths," pageant president Paula Shugart told Entertainment Weekly on Wednesday.
Reelz's programming is entertainment-oriented and tends to focus on the Hollywood film and entertainment industry. Shows currently airing on the network include "Beverly Hills Pawn" and "Hollywood Hillbillies." As of 2015, Reelz is available to about 68.2 million television households.
"The decision on the part of Reelz to acquire the rights to the Miss USA Pageant was based on our belief that this special event, and the women who compete in it, are an integral part of American tradition," the network's CEO, Stan E. Hubbard, said in a statement. "As one of only a few independent networks, we decided to exercise our own voice and committed ourselves to bringing this pageant to American viewers everywhere."
His announcement was met with enthusiasm from the Miss USA company and contestants.
"The sash has been saved!" one of the 51 contestants, Miss Washington USA 2015 Kenzi Novell, wrote on Twitter after the distribution deal was announced.
Reelz's decision to take up the Miss USA banner was not the first time that the company saved a contentious show. In 2011, after the History Channel passed up "The Kennedys," an unauthorized biopic of John F. Kennedy, Jackie Kennedy and the Camelot Empire, Reelz took the project on and made it the company's first mini-series. The show faced heated criticism due to its historical inaccuracies, with some calling it a "character assassination" of the famous family.