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Miss Pennsylvania ordered to pay $5m to Donald Trump after claiming 'trashy' Miss USA pageant was 'fixed'
Sheena Monnin claimed Miss Florida had seen a list of the five finalists before the show beganMonnin claimed the pageant was 'fixed' and 'trashy'
21:25 GMT, 30 December 2012
A beauty queen who resigned after alleging that the Miss USA pageant had been fixed says she is stunned by a ruling that she must pay the pageant organization $5 million for defamation.
Former Miss Pennsylvania USA Sheena Monnin said that the 'most logical course' would be to contest the arbitrator's ruling but she is considering her options.
Arbitrator Theodore Katz says Monnin's allegations that finalists had been selected in advance were false, harmful and malicious and cost the pageant, owned by billionaire Donald Trump, a $5 million fee from a potential 2013 sponsor.
Accusations: Miss Pennsylvania Sheena Monnin (left) said Miss Florida Karina Brez (right) said she had seen a list of the Miss USA finalists before they were called. Another contestant claimed that she heard the same
Best of the best: Olivia Culpo, pictured with competition owner Donald Trump, was crowned Miss Universe this month in Las Vegas
Monnin points to a Miss USA contract
clause giving top pageant officials the power to pick the top five
finalists and the winner, but a company official calls that a catch-all
that's never been used.
Earlier this month, Donald Trump was victorious in a lawsuit he filed against
Monnin, who called the Miss USA pageant 'fixed' and 'trashy' after she
failed to make the semifinals of the beauty contest this summer.
The eventual winner of Miss USA, Olivia Culpo,
beat 88 other beauty queens on December 20 to take the Miss Universe
title from Leila Lopes of Angola at the Planet Hollywood casino in Las
Mr Trump, co-owner of the Miss Universe Organization, sued Monnin for defamation after she alleged in June that a fellow contestant
in the competition had seen a list of the top five winners before the
finalists were named on stage.
A U.S. District Court Magistrate ruled in favor of the Miss Universe Organization, awarding it $5 million in damages and stated Monnin's statements 'showed a reckless disregard'.
Miss Pennsylvania's Sheena Monnin accused Miss Universe Organization of rigging the competition when
she resigned from her position in mid June.
She claimed Karina Brez, who was representing Florida at the contest in Las Vegas, Nevada on June 3, recited the top five women after seeing a list of their names backstage.
Battle: Donald Trump, the co-owner of Miss Universe Organization, successfully sued Miss Monnin (right) for her claims. A judge has awarded the pageant $5 million in damages
In a Facebook post announcing her
resignation, she wrote: 'Apparently the morning of June 3rd [Brez] 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.
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.
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.'
Universe Organization vehemently denied the claims and said that Monnin
had cited the new rules allowing transgender contestants as her reason
also denied the claims and proceeded with the lawsuit against Monnin, who he believed
was suffering 'loser's remorse'.
Top five: Monnin claims another contestant told her Miss Ohio, Miss Maryland, Miss Rhode Island, Miss Nevada and Miss Georgia would be the top five before they were even read out
'I did see her for about a second. I
never felt that she had a chance,' he told the Today show over the summer.
'I know what I heard, and I know what I in turn witnessed… so I’m prepared to continue to march forward,' Monnin responded on Today.
feel an injustice has been done, not only to the other people who were
not in the top five, but to the thousands of pageant girls across the
country who competed, believing this is an honest system.'
But Brez has also come forward to deny she made the claims seriously.
during the pageant, I did see a piece of paper with names on it and
like most people in such frenetic circumstances, joked that they must be
the names of the final contestants,' Brez said.
was a throwaway comment, in the stress of the pageant, and was never
meant as fact. The list I saw didn’t even have the eventual winner on
Monnin told Today she believes Brez changed her story out of fear.
'She looked a little bit scared because
she had just seen something that would potentially, drastically change
the reputation of the Miss Universe Organization,' she said. 'This is a big deal.'
Deserved After the 51 contestants were whittled down, Olivia Culpo from Rhode Island was named the winner
Good answer: Culpo, pictured with hosts Andy Cohen and Giuliana Rancic, impressed during the Q&A round
The latest accuser, who was not identified, said Miss Brez had appeared 'very, very flustered and upset' as the top 15 girls were announced.
'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 told FOX News.
'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.'
'A lot of the girls now are very upset
about how Pennsylvania is being treated and aggressively attacked by an
organization that claims to empower women,' she said.
ten: Monnin said the contestant told her about the discovery as the top
16 were announced. But organizers have said she resigned because she
was against the new rule allowing transgender contestants
The top 15 girls are decided by preliminary judging in the days before the broadcast, and fan voting determines the 16th. The top ten, top five and winner are decided in the live show, a rep said.
The scores for the competition are believed to be entered into a computer system as the show is live. These results are monitored and verified by Ernst & Young.
'In accordance with the rules of the competition, Ernst & Young's tabulation of the judges' votes which determined the final five contestants did not occur until after the evening gown competition had been completed,' a representative said.
Judge Joe Jonas tweeted after the accusations: 'All I can say… Is the Miss USA competition was NOT rigged. Miss [Rhode Island] USA won fair and square.'
The pageant named Ms Culpo, a 20-year-old cellist, the winner after she made it clear that she embraced all beauty queens – transgender or otherwise – during the interview portion.
In the dreaded final question round, Ms
Culpo was faced with the most difficult question of the night: Would it
be fair for a person born a man to be named Miss Universe after becoming
Final rounds: But organizers said the contestant denied telling Monnin she had seen any such list
Rearly lovely: The pageant was held at the Planet Hollywood casino on the Las Vegas Strip
Ms Culpo never stumbled as she embraced the Miss Universe Organization's recent decision to admit transgender contestants.
'I do think that would be fair,' she said. 'But I could understand how people could be apprehensive to take that road.'
It is an opinion that Monnin does not share. In her resignation email, she wrote: '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.'