Miss Universe Organization President Paula Shugart has offered clarification on the judging process at the Miss USA pageant to RTTNews, saying the judges opinions for the Top 15 are augmented with those of the Miss Universe Organization staff.
"In the preliminary process, the Miss Universe Organization staff has a say who goes into the Top 16, after that it is out of our hands," Shugart told RTTNews on Thursday. "After the preliminary judging is done, we take the judges list and our list and we augment them."
A barrage of questions have come forth about the judging system, specifically on allegations of there being a predetermined list of the Top 5 at the most recent Miss USA pageant held on June 3, 2012. Former Miss Pennsylvania USA Sheena Monnin is now one of two contestants to come forward claiming the pageant is rigged. Following the accusations, co-owner of the Miss Universe Organization Donald Trump announced plans to take legal action against Monnin on the basis of defamation.
"Contrary to popular belief, it's not all Trump," Shugart said to RTTNews. "He watches videos of every single contestant and takes it very seriously."
Sheena Monnin claims Miss Florida USA Karina Brez saw a list of a predetermined Top 5 before any finalists were announced. Brez denies the pageant was rigged by saying the list she saw did not have the winner, Miss Rhode Island Olivia Culpo. However, a contestant who chooses to remain anonymous says she heard Brez verbally listing out the Top 5 backstage before final judging took place.
"The [anonymous contestant] confirmed she did not see a list, so we're not giving it any credence," Shugart told RTTNews. "We have the truth on our side, we'll defend this vigorously. The story is so implausible, judges scores go into the computer, then they verify them, then they run the results to the host on stage."
Shugart has been interviewing various contestants this week over the controversy asking them if any lists were seen, and if so what was on the list. "All the girls we've talked to say they never saw Rhode Island on any list," Shugart said to RTTNews.
If the list that was seen was a rehearsal list, Rhode Island's name would not be on the list. However, if Monnin's story is true, Rhode Island would be on the list.
"Backstage 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 in a statement, according to media reports. "It 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 it."
Monnin has told the "Today" show that she believes Brez changed her story out of fear. The anonymous contestant believes fellow contestants are fearful to come forward to do threatening lawsuits already present and negative publicity. However, the anonymous contestant said if the Miss USA contestants had to testify in court, they would be do it.
by RTT Staff Writer
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