Donald Trump wasn’t interested in going to Vietnam during the war, but he happily hosted his Miss Universe pageant there in 2008.
The country spent nearly 13 million euros to host the event including over four million on the Diamond Bay Resort, a new convention center specifically built for the pageant.
And even as Trump would frequently take to Twitter to promote his own appearances at the yearly events, he did not bother with this one, sending his son Donald Trump Jr. instead.
“Donald was not at the show in Vietnam,” Miss Universe Public Relations Director Jackie Shahinian told The Daily Beast. While she said that two executives at the company confirmed that Trump did not attend, Shahinian did not provide additional details when asked.
Jerry Springer, host of a television show in which people did not get fired but rather had chairs thrown at them, hosted the 2008 event alongside Mel B of the Spice Girls.
“I did work for Trump in ’08 when I hosted the Miss Universe Pageant. We did it in Vietnam,” Springer said in an email exchange with The Daily Beast. “He didn’t come over, but my dealings with him were totally friendly.”
Springer didn’t respond when asked if he knew why Trump didn’t go.
Trump avoided being drafted into the conflict due to “shin splints,” but once suggested that his avoidance of STDs in his promiscuous younger years was his own “personal Vietnam.”
He has also of course taken to criticizing Americans who fought in Vietnam, including John McCain, who spent years as a POW there after being shot down during a bombing run. “He’s not a war hero,” Trump said of McCain last year. “He’s a war hero because he was captured. I like people that weren’t captured, OK?”
Years before Trump had a resort built for a bikini contest in Vietnam, he also made it his mission to boot veteran vendors off Fifth Avenue so as not to diminish the sanctity of his majestic Trump Tower.
Despite all that, his current presidential campaign has tried to position veterans front and center as sometimes-paid props, only to be bashed by Trump’s fans when they refuse. His organization has also been criticized for giving way more money to the Clintons than it has to veterans.
Trump sold off The Miss Universe Organization to WME/IMG in September after NBC and Univision refused to air the program given Trump’s racist remarks about Mexican immigrants.
“I have truly enjoyed owning the Miss Universe, Miss USA, and Miss Teen USA pageants. When I purchased the pageants many years ago, they were in serious trouble. It has been a great honor making them so successful,” Trump said at the time. “The pageants are now in the hands of a great company that will shepherd them to even greater levels of success.”
The Miss Universe Organization was valued at between $5 million and $25 million according to financial disclosure forms.
The only real takeaway Trump had from his brief engagement with Vietnam was that he allegedly discovered Lady Gaga by having her perform at the event.
“I don’t want to say we made Lady Gaga, but she was incredible and that was her break,” he said at the time.
Trump’s campaign did not respond to a request for comment about this story.