Trump had not contributed to his charitable organization called the Donald J. Trump Foundation since 2008. This, despite the fact that that proceeds from the sale of his book, The Art of the Deal, was supposed to be donated to the organization that he founded in 1988; all the while he mercilessly markets the book and his deal-making prowess. A notable donation came from Linda and Vince McMahon of World Wrestling Entertainment after Trump appeared at one of their WrestleMania gigs in 2007.
They poured a generous $5 million into his foundation. One reason Trump hates the Washington Post (besides that time its reporter narc’d him out to first wife Ivana about his affairs) is that it’s been reporting on the foundation’s ethical violations such as self-profiting from a 501(c)3; making political donations, using funds to settle property lawsuits and tax evasion. Under scrutiny and scandal, the Trump Organization was forced to shutter the charitable foundation last year, a week before Christmas, when his lawyers reached an agreement with the New York attorney general. The organization has given away $19 million to various organizations and causes since its inception.
Tour De Trump
Many a cycling enthusiast agreed that an American cycling race was a long-neglected undertaking. So, one day, inspired by fellow CBS sports reporter John Tesh’s idea that America needed a Tour, Billy Packer, CBS basketball announcer, approached Trump in Atlantic City with a sponsorship role in an East Coast cycling race idea. Trump was very interested and took them up on the plan. Fully invested, he named the race Tour de Trump. In May 1989 the event premiered. With a prize of $250,000, many big names showed up for the race, including Lance Armstrong who won it twice. The route twisted and turned through cities and small towns for 837 miles on the route from Albany to Atlantic City. The route was noticeably personally mapped out by Trump. All the way back in the late ‘80s, Trump had already become a polarizing political figure. Protesters gathered at the finish line with signs like “Fight Trumpism,” and “The Art of the Deal = The Rich Get Richer.” Even New York City Mayor Ed Koch, who once called Trump a “one of the great hucksters,” protested by staying home from the Manhattan leg of the race. As a business venture, it failed.
In two years, Trump was forced to sell to DuPont who became the main sponsor. With a lot of 20/20-vision irony looking back, Trump, who was asked why he didn’t call the race Tour de America in order to develop an event that parallels the preeminent Tour de France, responded, “We could if we wanted to have a less successful race. If we wanted to down-scale it.” The entire Tour, formerly de Trump and then de DuPont, was eventually discontinued in 1996. Trump was getting a reputation for ruining great projects with his involvement.
Miss Universe, Miss USA, and Miss Teen USA Beauty Pageants
When Trump owned the Miss Universe Organization, which includes Miss U.S.A. and Miss Teen U.S.A., it was a hands-on business enterprise. For 20 years he operated the pageants—from 1996 until he was forced out by NBC in 2015. His routine, on pageant days, which he personally attended, included mingling amongst the young women as they rehearsed their final routine before entering the stage, chatting with them and shaking hands with each contestant. In a 2005 interview by Howard Stern, Trump bragged about this exclusive perk, “I’ll go backstage before a show, and everyone’s getting dressed and ready and everything else.” Going on about the access he’s entitled to, “And I’m allowed to go in because I’m the owner of the pageant. And therefore I’m inspecting it. . . ‘Is everyone OK?’ You know, they’re standing there with no clothes. And you see these incredible-looking women. And so I sort of get away with things like that.”
Girls and women complained about Trump’s intrusions on several occasions. In 2015, during the Trump campaign, NBC, who had produced the televised pageant shows since 2002, along with Univision, ended its business relationship with the Miss Universe Organization due to Trump’s negative political opinions. Until 2015, Trump Productions, The Trump Organization’s media company, televised the Miss USA and Miss Universe pageants. Trump tried to hold onto the pageant by buying NBC’s stake but had to sell to a talent agency and entertainment cooperative. His racist comments about immigrants and Mexicans, again, caused him to lose one of his coveted investments.
The Trump Brand – $170 million
Forbes estimates Trump licensing and hotel management, the branding of “Trump,” is worth about $170 million to The Trump Organization; noting, however, that the Trump brand appeal seems to be fading, most notably in N.Y.C. and Toronto. The Trump Organization, for their part, is ahead of the curve. They’ve introduced new brands named “Scion” and “American Idea” as a less polarizing way to sell their products.
Companies are simply not as willing to produce Trump-branded merchandise as they have been. Three years ago, almost 20 companies made Trump-brand merch, today only two international companies produce his namesake products. In 2009, “Trump” was bringing in $215 million a year on such products. In 2017 sales had dwindled to an insignificant $370,000 in licensing deals. The Washington Post has been dutifully reporting on all of Trump’s licensing deals or lack thereof. The Bezos-Trump rivalry keeps getting hotter. Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon and WaPo owner is number one on the Forbes 400 list. Trump, substantially lower. No envy there.
The Casino Deals
Trump got into the casino business in earnest in 1984 when Harrah’s at Trump Plaza opened in Atlantic City. In 1986 he bought out Harrah’s stake and management for $250 million, and it came to be known as Trump Plaza. He purchased another building in the New Jersey city from Hilton for $320 million, transforming it into Ivana’s management project they called Trump Castle. But Trump had his eye on an even bigger slice of Atlantic City. His plan was to take over Resorts International, a struggling casino franchise which was the largest landowner in the city.
Its Taj Mahal project, the world’s largest casino, stood partially finished. Trump acquired it for $280 million in 1989, stretching credit and funds for the massive project that opened in 1990. He also picked up the Atlantis, renaming it the Trump Regency. The 1990s recession caused him to lose all but 10 percent in his Atlantic City properties. He stretched his investments too far, and his highly leveraged empire nearly collapsed.