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Steve Harvey Reveals Three Times He Profited From the Infamous Miss Universe Pageant Mistake

Back in 2015, things didn’t seem to be looking good for TV personality/comedian Steve Harvey. While hosting the Miss Universe pageant, Harvey mistakenly called out the wrong contestant as the winner.

But Harvey turned lemons into millions.

ATLANTA, GEORGIA – AUGUST 06: Steve Harvey speaks onstage during 2022 InvestFest at Georgia World Congress Center on August 06, 2022 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Paras Griffin/Getty Images)

While he explained to the audience at Invest Fest, that the now-infamous mistake wasn’t solely his fault, he also spoke about how he turned an embarrassing mishap into success three times over. Invest Fest took place in London, Oct. 30-31, 2022.

1. World Famous

According to Harvey, one of his prayers to God was that he would be able to expand his brand worldwide. His prayer was answered in the form of the pageant scandal.

“I wanted God to make me more globally famous ’cause I saw myself becoming a global businessman,” Harvey recalled. “After the Miss Universe fiasco, within 48 hours, my name had been Googled 4 billion times. I was the most Googled subject in the world for 48 hours. God had increased my global brand and persona.”

He added that the method he reached global fame wouldn’t have been his first choice — although he still felt blessed.

”I really didn’t appreciate the way he did it either; I thought that was pretty funky, Lord. Just thought I’d say that,” he said jokingly.

2. Commercial Deal

Madison Avenue also took note of Harvey’s sudden notoriety. T-Mobile tapped him for an ad campaign right after — and due to — the fiasco.

“T-Mobile came along and said, ‘We’d like to take your mistake and turn it into good,’ and I said, ‘How so?’ They said, ‘We want you to do a T-Mobile commercial.’ I said, ‘Well, that’s interesting. How much does that pay?’ So, I did the T-Mobile commercial,” Harvey explained, noting that it is usually possible to turn a mistake not only to a learning moment but into a blessing. “I don’t give a damn if we do a whole reenactment of that damn night, the money they paid me” made it worth Harvey’s while.

3.More Money and Ownership

Even with the seemingly colossal mistake, Miss Universe wanted Harvey back as host. But he wasn’t ready to return. Harvey reveals he held out and wound up getting an offer triple the amount he was paid for his previous appearance. Still, he wanted more. He wanted a piece of the ownership.

“After the mishap, I said I didn’t want to do it no more, because I was put out on front street and they left me out there to dry. … So I said I ain’t doing it. So they said, ‘Well, suppose we pay you double.’ I said, ‘I still ain’t doing it.’ They said, ‘Suppose we pay you triple.’ I said, ‘I still ain’t gonna do it.’ They said, ‘Mr. Harvey, we’ll pay you millions to come back and do that.’ I said, ‘I’m still not gonna do it.’ They said, ‘What do you want?’ I said, ‘Ownership,’” Harvey said.

He continued with an exaggeration: “So, now I own Miss Universe, Miss USA, Miss Teen USA. Let the church say amen. You better praise him. You better throw some water on somebody.”

Harvey did get a stake in Miss Universe, which was owned by his agency. In 2015, Harvey revealed, “I have a deal with the talent part of [WME/IMG], but I also have a deal with the business part of it. A part ownership in it.”

(Endeavor Group Holdings was founded in April 2009 after the merger of the William Morris Agency and the original Endeavor Talent Agency). In 2015, Donald Trump sold the Miss Universe Organization to the talent agency and marketing firm WME-IMG.

Miss Universe Organization, which includes the Miss USA and Miss Teen pageants, was bought in October by Thai firm JKN Global Group PCL.

No details have been made available on how much Harvey’s stake was worth in the sale.

Harvey, who has a net worth of $200 million, noted at Invest Fest that every failure can be an opportunity. The pageant debacle turned into success for him.

“So young people, the lesson I learned from that was even in some of your darkest moments, when you make mistakes you have got to stick around for the two things– a lesson and a blessing,” he said. “Two things follow every single [mistake] every single time. God don’t send down rain without a return. When he send down rain, flowers grow.”

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