Miss Universe Organization co-owner Donald Trump says he plans to file a lawsuit against former Miss Pennsylvania USA contestant Sheena Monnin after she accused the pageant of being fixed.
“She said some really strong things,” Trump said during an appearance on NBC’s Today show Wednesday morning. “When she’s using the word ‘fraud,’ that’s pretty strong, so we’re going to be suing her on that basis.”
Calling the pageant fraudulent, lacking in morals and even trashy, Monnin turned in her sash and crown Monday.
“After 10 years of competing in a pageant system I once believed in, I now completely and irrevocably separate myself in every way and on every level from the Miss Universe Organization,” Monnin, of Cranberry, said in a statement on her Facebook page. “I remove my support completely and have turned in the title of Miss Pennsylvania USA 2012."
Monnin claims a fellow contestant in Sunday’s televised Miss USA competition saw a list of the top five women in the pageant before judging began on the show.
“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,” Monnin said. “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."
Monnin said the contestant, who she did not name, told her the names of the women who appeared 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,” Monnin said.
In a statement, the Miss Universe Organization, which runs the Miss USA competition, blasted Monnin’s allegations as false.
Noting Monnin did not place in the top 16 women Sunday, the organization included an email Monnin sent to state pageant officials Monday announcing her resignation. The missive said she did not agree with the organization's decision to admit transgender contestants.
"This goes against ever moral fiber of my being," the email from Monnin said. "I believe in integrity, high moral character, and fair play, none of which are part of this system any longer."
Miss Universe officials said Monnin only recently changed her reasons for resignation.
"Today she has changed her story by publicly making false accusations claiming that the pageant was fixed, however the contestant she privately sourced as her reference has vehemently refuted her most recent claim," the statement said.
In April, the Miss Universe organization ended a ban on transgender contestants after Canadian Jenna Talackova, who was born male, faced disqualification from the pageant.
Trump said on the Today show that an investigation conducted into Monnin's allegations found no evidence of an advance list of contestants.
"The person who supposedly showed the list totally denies that ever took place,” Trump said in an interview with Ann Curry.
He added he met Monnin briefly at the competition Sunday.
“I saw her there," he said. "My impressions were she didn’t have a chance of being in the top 15, not even close. All this is, is a girl who went there, lost, wasn’t even in the 15 and she’s angry at the pageant system."
The Miss Universe Organization also chided Monnin for taking attention away from Miss Rhode Island, Olivia Culpo, who was named the pageant winner. Culpo, who voiced supported for transgender pageant contestants, will represent the nation in the Miss Universe pageant later this year.
"We are disappointed that she would attempt to steal the spotlight from Olivia Culpo of Rhode Island on her well-deserved Miss USA win," the Miss Universe statement said.
As of Wednesday, it appeared many of the 1,466 friends on Monnin’s Facebook page (which has been growing steadily since Monday) stood behind the 27-year-old beauty queen.
“Way to stand up for what you believe in girlfriend! We need more strong PA woman like you,” one poster said.
“I admire your integrity and courage to do what you did....I applaud you 100%,” another posting read.
Not all message were supportive, however. Another poster said Monnin entered the pageant knowing it allowed transgender contestants. She accused Monnin of quitting to call attention to herself.
“Maybe you got what you wanted which was attention, media, airtime and controversy good job!” the poster said.
What do think of Monnin’s resignation? Was it the right thing to do? What do you think of the Miss Universe Organization’s response to Monnin’s accusations? Leave your opinion in the comment section.