A posting on Miss Pennsylvania Sheena Monnin’s Facebook page claims another contestant learned the names of the top five finishers on Sunday morning, hours before the show was broadcast.
Monnin, who did not make the top-16 cut in the June 3 Las Vegas-based contest, claims another contestant told her the names of the top five she spotted on a planning sheet for the telecast, and she decided to step down as soon as those same contestants were named during the show.
“In my heart I believe in honesty, fair play, a fair opportunity and high moral integrity, none of which in my opinion are part of this pageant system any longer,” Monnin wrote in one of her Facebook posts.
Monnin, of Cranberry, Butler County, did not immediately respond to a Facebook message from The Associated Press. The 27-year-old holds a bachelor’s degree in human service, a master’s in psychology and, according to a contestant bio, aims to earn her doctorate in theology. Her Facebook account describes her political views as “conservative.”
Donald Trump, who runs the Miss Universe Organization, called Monnin’s claims that the pageant was fixed “totally ridiculous” in a live interview Wednesday on ABC’s “Good Morning America” and said the pageant organization plans to sue Monnin for making the “false charge.”
“We’re going to be suing her now. She made a very false charge and she knows it’s a false charge,” Trump said.
Pageant organizers confirmed Monnin resigned, but said it wasn’t for the reason she claimed.
According to a statement from the Miss Universe Organization, the contestant who Monnin claimed saw the sheet vehemently refuted Monnin’s account.
The statement includes text from an email organizers said Monnin sent citing the decision to allow transgender contestants into the competition as the reason she’s resigning.
A transgender contestant was initially denied entry to the Miss Universe Canada pageant, but Trump subsequently overruled that decision. That contestant made the finals before being eliminated.
The pageant’s winner, Miss Rhode Island Olivia Culpo, told WPRO-AM she knew Monnin “fairly well” because contestants were often positioned alphabetically by state. She said Monnin’s original resignation was based on her stance on the pageant’s policy on transgender contestants and called it “strange” that Monnin is now saying something else.
“It’s a little iffy to me,” Culpo said.
Trump downplayed the role transgender contestants had on Monnin’s decision, even though pageant personnel claimed that was her motivation.
“I don’t think that she had an issue with that,” Trump said. “I think her primary issue is that she lost and she’s angry about losing. And frankly, in my opinion, I saw her barely a second and she didn’t deserve to be in the top 15.”
Culpo, the winner, expressed support for transgender contestants during the competition. In her Q&A segment, she was asked via Twitter, “Would you feel it would be fair that a transgender woman wins the Miss USA title over a natural-born woman?”
“I do think that that would be fair, but I can understand that people would be a little apprehensive to take that road because there is a tradition of natural-born women, but today where there are so many surgeries and so many people out there who have a need to change for a happier life, I do accept that because I believe it’s a free country,” Culpo said.
Culpo said after the pageant that she wasn’t put off by the question when she heard it.
“This is a free country and to each their own,” she said.
The judge’s panel included out chef Cat Cora, TV personality Arsenio Hall, singer Joe Jonas and reality TV star Rob Kardashian. Openly gay television personality Andy Cohen and Giuliana Rancic stepped in to host.
Miss USA 2011 Alyssa Campanella crowned Culpo her successor at the end of the night.
Culpo will represent the United States at the 61st Miss Universe pageant in December. An American has not been named Miss Universe since Brook Lee won the title in 1997.