Donald Trump made good on his promise. He’s suing Univision for $500 million, alleging breach of contract and defamation after it broke business ties with Trump and announced it wouldn’t air the Miss USA pageant on July 12. It also accuses Univision of colluding with NBC.
Ironically, the lawsuit states that “reaching the largest Spanish-speaking audience possible is absolutely critical to the success and future” of the Miss Universe Organization.”
Both Trump and the Miss Universe Organization appear as plaintiffs in the lawsuit filed in New York Supreme Court today. The complaint also names Alberto Ciurana, Univision’s President of Programming and Content, as a defendant.
Ciurana’s inclusion in the lawsuit comes after he posted a photo of Trump comparing him to Dylan Roof, the 21-year old arrested in the recent murder of 9 African-Americans in a Charleston church.
Even though he removed “the defamatory post, the damage was already done,” claims Trump.“Mr. Ciurana’s post was picked up by the media” becoming “another example of Univision’s dubious efforts to create a false narrative in an attempt to upset Mr. Trump’s longstanding personal and business relationship with the Hispanic community.”
The lawsuit reveals the deal with Univision was secured after a bidding war with Telemundo. According to the document, Univision won after agreeing to pay $13.5 million for the rights to broadcast the Miss USA, Miss Teen USA and the Miss Universe pageants from 2015 through 2019. The deal stipulates Univision would pay $2.5 million per year until 2017, and $3 million per year for 2018 and 2019.
In the lawsuit, Trump alleges Univision’s reason for pulling out of the deal was politically motivated and was done to suppress his freedom of speech after declaring his presidential candidacy, not over his comments about Mexicans.
Trump also claims a high-ranking Univision executive called him saying that in response to his comments on illegal immigration, the network had been “inundated with calls demanding that Univision immediately terminate its relationship” with Trump and the Miss Universe Organization and that they could “no longer sell” the Miss USA pageant to its sponsors or viewers.
Trump states the executive apologized for not airing the pageant and that “the decision had been made by the highest ranking executives at Univision to terminate its relationship” and pay the Miss Universe Organization its $13.5 million in licensing fees.
Univision CEO Randy Falco emphatically denied apologizing to Trump in a memo he sent to staff on Monday: “we never apologized because we have nothing to apologize for.”
The lawsuit accuses Univision executives, including Falco, who worked at NBC for 30 years, of lobbying former colleagues and colluding “with executives at NBC to permanently sever its contractual and business relationship” by “refusing to broadcast the Miss USA, Miss Teen USA and Miss Universe pageants in express violation of NBC’s contractual obligations.”
Due to these actions, Trump claims “NBC capitulated to Univision’s demands to terminate its relationship” with him and the Miss Universe Organization.
The plaintiffs say they’re seeking substantial damages “As a result of Defendants’ egregious, brazen and unjustifiable acts and conduct, including, without limitation, their intentional breach of the Univision Agreement and interference with Plaintiffs’ contractual relations with NBC.”
They estimate their losses to be in the “tens if not hundreds of millions of dollars in damages.”
Univision responded to the lawsuit with the following statement:
“We just reviewed Mr. Trump’s complaint for the first time, and it is both factually false and legally ridiculous. We will not only vigorously defend the case, but will continue to fight against Mr. Trump’s ongoing efforts to run away from the derogatory comments he made on June 16th about Mexican immigrants. Our decision to end our business relationship with Mr. Trump was influenced solely by our responsibility to speak up for the community we serve.”