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Miss USA officials respond to allegations the competition was rigged




R’Bonney Gabriel of Houston, Texas became the Filipino American to win the Miss USA crown on October 3. But shortly after the contest, some of his classmates claimed the contest was rigged, claiming that the contest organizers had given Gabriel unfair treatment. advantage.

The Miss Universe organization is currently investigating these accusations.

Heather Lee O’Keefe, this year’s Miss Montana, is among the contestants making the allegations.

“The Official Miss USA Coaching School sponsored all of the contestants but gave an extremely more generous amount to Miss Texas USA,” she claimed, speaking to ABC News.

Gabriel and Miss USA officials deny there was any favoritism.

“It wasn’t faked at all,” fashion designer and model Gabriel said in an interview with ABC News. “I didn’t have an unfair advantage or I didn’t know I was going to win. I worked very, very hard to get to where I am now.”

Crystle Stewart, president of the Miss USA organization, said there was no basis for accusations that Gabriel received more money to coach at the official Miss USA school.

PHOTO: Crystle Stewart, president of the Miss USA Organization, has denied claims that the pageant was rigged.

ABC News

Crystle Stewart, president of the Miss USA organization, has denied allegations that the pageant was rigged.

“With Miss Academy, each contestant received free training through eight-week programs and group sessions,” Stewart explained. “What was offered to each state director was also the same opportunity as a state-level sponsorship.”

Some have also alleged that Gabriel was airlifted to a Mexican medical spa in July, receiving treatments at the Nizuc Resort in Cancún, a sponsor of the Miss USA pageant. When Nizuc posted a video of Gabriel at the spa right after winning Miss USA, several contestants said it was proof the pageant was set up.

However, contest officials say that’s not all.

Stewart said after Gabriel was crowned Miss Texas USA, Nizuc invited her to shoot a promotional video in late July. Gabriel paid for his own flight there and this video was posted in August.

“What Nizuc did was reuse that video after she won contest after contest,” Stewart said.

Aaron Potts, one of the Miss USA judges, also denied any pressure to vote for any of the contestants.

“Everything was very, very strict about how we should or shouldn’t interact with contestants, with contestants’ family members,” Potts said. “[The organization was] top notch in terms of lack of bias, incitement, suggestion of anything like that.”

Gabriel herself addressed the Nizuc Resort allegation, telling E! News during an Oct. 6 episode of “The Rundown” that she paid for her own flight and filmed the promotional video while still Miss Texas USA.

Other contestants also spoke out, including Miss District of Columbia Faith Porter, who said the pageant’s allegedly nebulous judging criteria and protocols prompted accusations of bias and preferential treatment.

“I think the most important thing is that all of the contestants feel they have a good shot at winning the crown, and that starts with more transparency in judging,” Porter said.

As the Miss Universe Organization investigates the complaints, Stewart said she hopes their findings will provide contestants with clarity and assurance of the fairness of the pageant.

“I believe that’s what the survey is for — to show the facts and transparency of what’s being offered in terms of sponsorships and different things at different levels of the state,” she said.