PITTSBURGH (AP) — The Miss USA pageant contender from Pennsylvania resigned her crown, saying the contest is rigged, but organizers said the beauty queen was upset over the decision to allow transgender contestants.
A posting on 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 said 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.
Monnin did not immediately respond to a Facebook message from The Associated Press.
Donald Trump, who runs the Miss Universe Organization, called Monnin’s claims “totally ridiculous” in an interview Wednesday on ABC’s “Good Morning America” and said the pageant organization plans to sue Monnin for making the “false charge.”
Pageant organizers confirmed Monnin resigned but said it wasn’t for the reason she claimed.
A statement from the Miss Universe Organization includes text from an email organizers said Monnin sent citing the decision to allow natural born males into the competition as the reason she was resigning.
A transgender contestant was initially denied entry to the Miss Universe Canada pageant because she wasn’t born female, but Trump overruled that decision.
The pageant’s winner, Olivia Culpo of Rhode Island, told WPRO-AM radio 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.