Miss USA fights claim the pageant was ‘rigged’ amid Miss Universe ‘active review’

As Shakespeare once wrote, “uneasy is the head that wears a crown,” and right now, no one knows that better than Miss USA 2022, R’Bonney Gabriel, who has been facing ugly claims of favoritism and a “rigged” contest since her name was announced on Monday.

Not even a week into her reign, both Gabriel, who was representing the state of Texas, and the Miss USA Organization, have been forced to deny the allegations, even as the Miss Universe Organization — the next rung on the regal ladder for Gabriel — has stated they will be conducting an “active review” into the accusations.


(Video: YouTube)

In an emailed statement to the New York Post, the Miss Universe Organization revealed, “We are aware of the concerns that have been brought forth by this year’s Miss USA contestants. We commend the women for bringing these issues to our attention and will always be an organization that encourages women to use their voice.”

“We firmly believe everyone has a right to express their thoughts and experiences without retaliation and bullying,” the statement continued. “There are existing systems in place to ensure the fairness of our national competitions and as such we have begun an active review into this situation.”

Each year, Miss Universe welcomes the reigning representatives of many of the world’s nations. As the current Miss USA, Gabriel, 28, will be America’s entry into the pageant as the first Filipina American to do so.

She flatly denies that the competition was “rigged” in her favor.

“The current allegations are based on perception and not the truth,” she told The Post in an emailed statement. “I would never want to enter a competition that was rigged. I know all of the contestants worked really hard to prepare and I don’t want these allegations to overshadow the accomplishments of all the women who participated in this year’s Miss USA competition.”

While Gabriel stressed that she knows “how hard every woman worked” and wants “their efforts to also be acknowledged,” she is ready to look to her future.

“At this time, I am excited to move forward with training for Miss Universe and all of the opportunities that the Miss USA Organization will provide, while expanding on my personal platform for sustainable fashion and advocating for charity partners Best Buddies and Smile Train,” she said.

In an interview with E! News, Gabriel stated, “I would never enter any pageant or any competition that I know I would win. I have a lot of integrity.”

As BizPac Review reported, the cloud of controversy settled over the crown before the broadcast of the event wrapped up, with angry contestants appearing to storm off the stage when Gabriel’s name was crowned.

One of the sponsors of a key Miss USA prize, Nizuc Spa and Resort, inadvertently threw fuel on the freshly lit fire just hours after Gabriel’s win, when they posted a video to Facebook congratulating Gabriel that showed her receiving luxurious treatments at their establishment.

The problem?

The video was reportedly shot nine weeks before she was crowned, leading many to believe the fix for her win was already in.


(Video: Facebook)

Miss USA Organization President Crystle Stewart was accused of favoritism on TikTok by Miss Montana Heather Lee O’Keefe.

“Most of the Miss USA contestants feel very strongly that there was favoritism towards Miss Texas USA and we have the receipts to prove it,” she stated, before taking to Instagram to add, “We are putting our titles on the line, putting our reputations on the line. That’s how strongly we feel about believing and standing up for what is right.”

As for her part in the scandal, Stewart, 41, who herself represented Texas and was crowned as Miss USA in 2008, denies any wrongdoing.

“The allegations against the Miss USA Organization are misleading and against everything I stand for personally and professionally,” she told The Post in an emailed statement.

For Stewart, the idea of tarnishing her own accomplishments is unthinkable.

“As the first African American woman in this leadership role I take this position with all seriousness and regard,” she said. “When I won Miss Texas USA, Miss USA, and more recently, became President of the Miss USA Organization many women of color were inspired and filled with hope. I would not do not anything, such as ‘rig a competition’ that I fought so hard for to win, and jeopardize that hope.”

The “fairness of the pageant” and the “well-being of each and every contestant,” said Stewart, is her “top priority.”

“As a former title-holder, I learned firsthand the importance of a fair and unbiased pageant competitionI [sic] and I respect the voices of the Class of 2022 and every woman’s right to have their voice heard,” she stated.

That being said, Stewart assured The Post that Miss USA will be cooperating with Miss Universe’s investigation.

“Myself, my staff and pageant partners take this very seriously and are cooperating with the Miss Universe Organization as they investigate the allegations,” she said.

In addition, said Stewart, Miss USA will be conducting its own “internal review to asses [sic] our staff and other personnel to ensure that there was fairness, non-discrimination and no favoritism amongst the contestants.”

“In every attempt I want to ensure there is an equal playing field for every contestant from uniformity in wardrobe, sponsored headshots, mental health workshops and complimentary training,” she maintained. “All to protect, educate, and empower our contestants.”

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