Was the Miss USA contest rigged? According to two beauty pageant contestants, absolutely.
Sheena Monnin, Miss Pennsylvania, said June 5 she would be resigning from the Miss Universe Organization because she thought the contest was rigged. Monnin claimed on her Facebook page that Karina Brez, Miss Florida, told her she had seen a list of the top five contestants apparently the morning of June 3 before the Top 16 were announced on the Sunday night televised program.
Although Donald Trump, co-owner of the organization, and Brez both insisted that Monnin's claims of rigging were false, a second Miss USA contestant has come forward, claiming that she too learned of the top five contestants from Brez before the official live vote.
I saw Florida backstage and she was very, very flustered and upset. I thought it might be because she didn't make the top 15 cut, but at that point she was able to reveal to me at least four of the five names who went on to be the top girls, the contestant, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told FoxNews.com. She couldn't remember the fifth because she was so upset. Several of the girls then started hearing through the grapevine about a list; a lot of people were upset.
The top five contestants included Miss Rhode Island, Olivia Culpo; Miss Maryland, Nana Meriwether; Miss Ohio, Audrey Bolte; Miss Nevada, Jade Kelsall; and Miss Georgia, Jazz Wilkins. Culpo was eventually crowned Miss USA.
Continue Reading Below
Monnin was lambasted by Trump and the Miss Universe Organization for claiming the Top 5 finalists were predetermined. It's a case of sour grapes to the nth degree, Paula Shugart, president of the Miss Universe Organization, has said. Pageant officials have threatened to sue Monnin.
Monnin previously posted a detailed description about the rigged Miss USA contest on her Facebook page.
I agree that it is my moral obligation to state what I witnessed and what I know to be true, wrote Monnin. I will relay to you the reasoning behind my resignation. I witnessed another contestant who said she saw the list of the Top 5 BEFORE THE SHOW EVER STARTED proceed to call out in order who the Top 5 were before they were announced on stage. Apparently the morning of June 3rd she saw a folder lying open to a page that said 'FINAL SHOW Telecast, June 3, 2012′ and she saw the places for Top 5 already filled in. Thinking she was just seeing a rehearsal fake top 5 from a previous day she walked away, then realized that it had without a doubt been labeled as the Final Show Telecast, June 3rd.
After the Top 16 were called and we were standing backstage she hesitantly said to me and another contestant that she knew who the Top 5 were. I said 'who do you think they will be?' She said that she didn't 'think' she 'knew' because she saw the list that morning. She relayed whose names were on the list. Then we agreed to wait and see if that was indeed the Top 5 called that night. After it was indeed the Top 5 I knew the show must be rigged; I decided at that moment to distance myself from an organization who did not allow fair play and whose morals did not match my own. That is all I know about this. If this contestant would like to step forward as an eye witness and as being the one who saw the sheet with the Top 5 already selected before the judges ever saw the Top 16, then perhaps action can be taken. As for me, I believe her words and I will not encourage anyone to compete in a system that in my opinion and from what I witnessed is dishonest.
Trump vowed to sue Monnin, saying, She made a very false charge and she knows it was a false charge. I think that, frankly, she should apologize but we will be bringing a lawsuit against her. Adding, It's absolutely ridiculous. She lost and if you look at her compared to the people who were in the Top 15, you would understand why she's not in the Top 15. It's a very, very sad situation.
Monnin went on NBC's Today show June 8 to defend herself.
I feel disappointed that (Trump) has made some of the statements that he said about me, and I feel prepared to continue to pursue the truth, Monnin said. I know what I heard, and I know what I in turn witnessed come true based on what I heard the contestant said she saw the list, so I'm prepared to continue to march forward.''
In a statement released through the Miss Universe Organization, Brez said that mentioning the top-five list was a throwaway comment and never meant as fact.
She added that she thinks Monnin is using this situation for her own ends.''
I know what I heard,'' Monnin told Today show host, Ann Curry. There's no doubt in my mind that the contestant was serious when she laid out what she said she saw, and I believe her to be true. I have many years of psychological training. I know when someone's telling a joke, I know when someone's scared and when someone's serious, and in my opinion her body language was very serious. She looked a little bit scared because she had just seen something that would potentially, drastically change the reputation of the Miss Universe Organization. This is a big deal.
Monnin did not immediately respond to the purported rigged voting, as disclosed to her by Brez, on the night of the 2012 Miss USA competition. She waited until the top five beauty queens were called and, when the top five were announced in the order Brez reportedly outlined to her, she saw a glaring red flag.
There are many reasons that a list could be laying around with the top five names, but when the names were called out in the order that she said she saw them on the list, that's just too coincidental to not be true,'' said Monnin, who was cut from the Top 16.
I still feel that strong reaction because I feel an injustice has been done, not only to the other people who were not in the Top 5 but to the thousands of pageant girls across the country who competed believing this is an honest system.
When the media first learned of Monnin's allegations, the Miss Universe Organization stated that Miss Pennsylvania had offered conflicting reasons for her resignation.
In a statement sent to the Miss Universe Organization, Monnin cited the organization's acceptance of transgender contestants as the reason behind her leaving. Transgender beauty queen Jenna Talackova, was granted permission to compete in the Miss Universe Canada pageant after a heated national debate.
I am officially and irrevocably resigning the title of Miss Pennsylvania USA 2012, wrote Monnin. I refuse to be part of a pageant system that has so far and so completely removed itself from its foundational principles as to allow and support natural born males to compete in it. This goes against ever moral fiber of my being. I believe in integrity, high moral character, and fair play, none of which are part of this system any longer.
Later, Monnin clarified. There are myriad reasons why I resigned. That is an issue that I discussed with my state director back in April.''
My message is very simple: I would like the truth to be made known,'' she said. I am not here to destroy anyone, I am not here to bad talk about anybody. In my opinion, what Miss Florida said is true. There's really no doubt in my mind. It's just too much evidence pointing this being fraudulent.''
The 2012 Miss USA winner, Rhode Island's Olivia Culpo, offered her own response to Monnin.
Miss Pennsylvania, like any other person, is entitled to their own opinions. I respect her opinions, but I am upset for her that she will not have the opportunity of being Miss Pennsylvania USA, Culpo told the Boston Herald. I feel for her that she has to give up that title, but everyone is entitled to their own opinions.