ABOVE PHOTO: Emmitt Smith (Photo: Helga Esteb/ Shutterstock.com )
By David Bauder
NEW YORK — Rapper Flo Rida, the Macy’s department store chain and football Hall of Famer Emmitt Smith all had something in common on Wednesday: They’re the latest to distance themselves from Donald Trump following his remarks about Mexican immigrants.
The Republican presidential hopeful’s team is struggling to hold the Miss USA pageant together following defections by hosts, performers, judges and the two television networks that were scheduled to broadcast the event on July 12. Trump, who fired back at Macy’s, owns the Miss USA and Miss Universe pageants.
Flo Rida had been the highest-profile performer scheduled for Miss USA in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and his representative confirmed Wednesday that he would not perform. Country singer Craig Wayne Boyd, winner of “The Voice” last year, and pop singer Natalie La Rose, whose single “Somebody” hit the Billboard Top Ten this year, also dropped out. There were no more announced performers.
Smith, the former Dallas Cowboys running back who was a judge for Miss USA, cited Trump’s statement and NBC’s decision in backing out. He said that knowing how much women prepare for the event, he sent his best wishes to the competitors.
HGTV “Property Brothers” star Jonathan Scott was also one of the pageant’s judges but backed out, too, saying on Facebook that he could not support Trump’s views.
“We are all on this big rock together,” he said, “and I choose love.”
Trump’s presidential campaign announcement contained his assertion that some Mexican immigrants to the United States bring drugs and crime, and some are rapists. The comment struck many Latinos as insensitive, and Univision’s decision last week to back out of televising Miss USA and break off its business ties with Trump led to a cascade of others following suit. Trump responded by suing Univision on Tuesday.
Macy’s said in a statement that the retailer is “disappointed and distressed” by Trump’s remarks and will end its relationship with him. Macy’s has carried a Donald Trump menswear line since 2004, including $70 button down-shirts and $65 striped ties. Most items were heavily discounted on Macy’s website on Wednesday.
“We have no tolerance for discrimination in any form,” the company said. “We welcome all customers, and respect for the dignity of all people is a cornerstone of our culture.”
The move comes after an outcry on social media, including online petitions, for Macy’s to drop the line. NBC, TV Company Ora TV and Mexican TV network Televisa have also cut ties to Trump.
Trump said in a statement that he had decided to end his relationship with Macy’s because of pressure put upon them by outside sources. He said he was never happy that the ties and shirts were made in China, and if he were to do another product line in the future, he would insist they were American-made.
“Both Macy’s and NBC totally caved at the first sight of potential difficulty with special interest groups who are nothing more than professional agitators,” Trump said.
Besides Smith and HGTV’s Scott, Miss USA listed country singer Jessie James Decker, E! News anchor Terrence Jenkins and TV host and former Miss Universe winner Zuleyka Rivera as pageant judges in a news release issued last month. Of that quintet, only Decker’s name was listed as a judge by Miss USA on its website Wednesday. A show spokeswoman said she had no information about judges or performers.
The pageant lost both of its co-hosts, Cheryl Burke of “Dancing With the Stars” and MSNBC anchor Thomas Roberts, on Tuesday. On Wednesday, Jeannie Mai, who hosted a show on the Style Network, was listed as a show host.
Last week, the hosts of the Univision simulcast, Roselyn Sanchez and Cristian de la Fuente, said they wouldn’t take part in the Spanish-language telecast.
The pageant issued a statement earlier this week that “we are disheartened by recent events but the show will go on.”