The head of Miss USA is suspended and the organization is under investigation after contestants accused the pageant of being rigged so R’Bonney Gabriel of Texas would win, reports Today.
Gabriel became the first Filipino American to win the contest on October 3.
Several contestants walked off stage without congratulating her after the hosts announced Gabriel as the winner.
“There’s always pageants where maybe some of the girls aren’t happy with the winner — you know, everyone wants to win,” last year’s first runner up, Jasmine Bruce, said. “But I’ve never seen all 50 contestants walk off stage or react the way that the contestants reacted in the background. To me, that’s very telling. These girls aren’t just upset that they didn’t win. There’s more to the story.”
The event is under the control of the Miss Universe pageant which confirmed to the Washington Post that it is conducting the investigation.
“The girls, including myself, felt disrespected because R’Bonney was very close to the staff members and directors of the pageant, and they were blatant about that. She also had personal ties with a judge who scored the costume competition, and we can see that she was personally communicating with national sponsors, which is a violation of the contract,” Miss District of Columbia Faith Maria Porter told The Washington Post.
Miss Brands Corporation serves as the umbrella organization of Miss USA under the direction of Crystle Stewart. Stewart is said to be cooperating with the inquiry while Miss Brands has been suspended.
“After thorough deliberation, Miss Universe Organization has decided to suspend Miss Brand immediately,” the Miss Universe Organization said in a statement to CNN. “Miss Universe Organization will be taking over the Miss USA program while a comprehensive, third-party investigation is conducted.”
“The current allegations that the 2022 Miss USA pageant was in favor of one contestant over another are misleading and simply not factual,” Stewart said in a statement. “The last thing I would ever want to do is discredit or deny the contestants an equal opportunity to a fair competition. I would never jeopardize my dream of running an organization that empowers these young women.”
Gabriel told E!, “I want to start by saying it was not rigged because I would never enter any pageant or any competition that I know I would win. I have a lot of integrity.”
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