NEW YORK, June 30 (UPI) -- Businessman and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump filed a lawsuit against Univision for refusing to broadcast the Miss USA pageant, while the show's two co-hosts withdrew from duties on Tuesday.
Univision announced last week it would not air the beauty pageant after derogatory comments Trump made about Mexican immigrants during his campaign announcement speech. NBCUniversal also decided to drop the show, cutting all business ties with Trump.
In response, Trump filed a $500 million lawsuit in New York State Supreme Court against Univision Networks & Studios for "abruptly" terminating its contract with the Miss Universe Organization (MUO), which Trump owns.
Trump released a statement Tuesday saying that though Univision says it dropped the pageant because of the candidate's comments on immigration, it was in fact an attempt to suppress Trump's freedom of speech.
"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. "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."
Despite the loss of the two networks, MUO announced in a statement Monday that it will continue to run the Miss USA pageant. The pageant is also facing a lack of hosts for the show.
Actress Roselyn Sanchez retracted her participation in co-hosting the Spanish-language airing of the show. Both professional dancer Cheryl Burke and MSNBC anchor Thomas Roberts, co-hosts of the English-language version of the show, also announced Tuesday they have withdrawn from hosting duties, CNNMoney reported.
"In light of the recent statements made by Donald Trump and the subsequent decision by NBC to cut ties with Mr. Trump, I cannot in good conscience move forward with participating in this year's Miss USA Pageant as its co-host," Burke wrote in a Facebook post. "Effective today I have withdrawn from my duties with Miss USA. Although I will not be there in person, I wish all of the contestants much luck as I know how hard they've all been working over the last year to try and realize their dreams.
MUO expressed its dismay in the recent turn of events but stated that "the show will go on" July 12 in Baton Rouge, La.
Along with the announcement the organization also made an attempt to sever its attachment to the anti-immigration comments made by Trump during his presidential bid earlier this month saying, "the Miss Universe Organization is built on a foundation of inclusion and continues to be a celebration of diversity and of all cultures."
The statement also mentioned that this year's Miss USA pageant featured women from various backgrounds, four of whom are of "Mexican descent."
According to Entertainment Tonight, the consequences of Trump's remarks have been tumultuous. Univision programs have severed their relationship with the contest along with actors and personalities.
The pageant's sponsorship also took a blow.
High-end cosmetic and beauty product manufacturer, Farouk Systems, pulled their support not only for the Miss USA Pageant, but also Trump's long running TV series, The Apprentice.
The full MUO statement reads:
The 2015 MISS USA Pageant will still take place in Baton Rouge on July 12th. We are disheartened by recent events but the show will go on.
The Miss Universe Organization operates as an independent company. In its 64 year history, and under many owners, Miss Universe has developed into a globally recognized brand, with nearly 150 franchise holders domestically and internationally, the majority of whom are small business owners.
The Miss Universe Organization is built on a foundation of inclusion and continues to be a celebration of diversity and of all cultures. This year's Miss USA contestants represent many different ethnic backgrounds, including six Latinas (four of whom are of Mexican descent).
Annually, nearly ten thousand young women all around the world participate in MISS UNIVERSE pageant events. We continue to welcome those from all backgrounds to enter our system. Our franchisees work tirelessly every day to empower young women to be confident and to be their personal best while raising awareness and millions of dollars for philanthropic endeavors.
While world politics and other influences will undoubtedly play a role, the pageant will always seek to transcend controversy. It is unfortunate that recent events beyond our control have only served to negatively impact the women who participate in the pageant, our state directors, our sponsors and our fans. We want our supporters to know we remain committed to them and we will be conducting the pageant, regardless of the current situation. We are moving forward, full-steam ahead as planned for the next two weeks, culminating in the crowning of a new Miss USA on July 12th.