Supporters of the Miss USA pageant have claimed the latest crowning was “rigged” after an unusual reaction from the contestants.
The 71st Miss USA was crowned on Monday with the historic victory of Miss Texas R’Bonnie Gabriel, who became the first Filipina American to win the title.
The 28-year-old fashion designer from San Antonio will represent the country at the Miss Universe 2023 pageant, which will be held in January.
The event, which took place in the state of Nevada, attracted the attention of the judges after the announcement of Gabriel’s coronation.
Fans of the show scrutinized the final ceremony under a microscope to reveal flaws in the process, with many claiming that traditional features had been abandoned.
TikTok user Jasmine Bruce first suggested that something was wrong with the beauty pageant, sparking a series of accusations from social media users who claimed the pageant was “rigged”.
In his videos, which have since garnered just under three million views, Bruce said that while watching the coronation, “something really got to her”.
“Something was just a little sketch about it.”
She then showed videos from previous coronation ceremonies as examples of the winner’s fellow contestants addressing her after the coronation.
In years past, it was common for all contestants to run to the winner to hug and celebrate.
In Gabrielle’s case, the contestants left the stage immediately without even a gesture to congratulate her, leaving only the winner and host on stage to hug.
“Even before she reached the halfway point of the runway after her crowning moment, the contestants behind her were exiting the stage,” Bruce said.
“In any pageant you’ve ever been in, the production manager tells you, you stay on stage until she’s done, you stand and clap.”
“None of them stay on stage.
“The energy in it was really different and I think you could just feel it.
“Or the girls were unhappy with the way the sketch was going, but in 10 years I’ve never seen a female contestant leave the stage without congratulating the girl who won.
“It’s important to her character or there’s just something wrong, and it’s obvious.
This unusual element was quickly picked up by others on social media.
“I have been watching contests since I was a child. Never seen anything like it at a coronation. Very strange,” said one user who commented on Bruce’s video.
“I’m glad I’m not the only one who thought so,” said another.
Fans took this reaction from the contestants as a sign that they already knew the outcome of the judging before the announcement, coupled with Gabriel’s unpleasant reaction to the news.
Adding fuel to the scandal, the contestants of Miss Georgia and Miss Montana posted a series of angry stories on Instagram.
The couple claimed Gabriel had already attended the sponsor’s party less than 24 hours after the wedding ceremony, sharing sponsored video from the resort that appeared in the previous entry.
“Not even 24 hours after she was crowned, we’re seeing footage of her luxury solo vacation and a commercial for Nizuc,” Miss Georgia representative Holly Haynes said.
“Miss USA was crowned less than 24 hours ago, but she already got a sponsored vacation from @nizucresort? are you kidding I gave you the benefit of the doubt, but now it’s just embarrassing,” said Miss Montana Heather Lee O’Keefe.
The Miss USA Organization has not commented, but the influential Instagram account @missusafans released a lengthy statement.
“Today my heart is heavy. If only the promotional video released this morning by one of the pageant’s main sponsors, the Nizuc Resort in Cancun, wasn’t filmed at dawn this morning in Mexico… my antenna is up, and obviously so are many of the Miss USA 2022 contestants speaking out today in disappointments,” the report says.
“Miss USA used to be a magical experience for these women, and now they walk away feeling exploited.”
Adding to the rumours, viewers were quick to point out that despite 50 women being crowned that year, the official Miss USA Instagram account only posted a Q&A video of Gabrielle in a clip that was quickly deleted.
The account apologized after removing the post.
“As America’s landscape continues to evolve, we are proud to be an organization that remains steadfast in our commitment to always provide a safe environment and support for all women, regardless of their beliefs,” the statement said.
Miss Ohio, Sir’Quora Carroll, who finished fourth in the event, posted a message on her social media.
“We’ve put so much time and effort into this organization to just be openly belittled, it’s crazy,” she said.
“Nobody ever wants to look like a clown, but feeling like a clown is a little different.”
Miss Alabama, Kathleen Vinson, joined the group of contestants who shared cryptic messages on their Instagram accounts when the rumors started.
“It’s heartbreaking and heartbreaking to work so hard for a goal only to realize you never had a chance. I heard the rumours, but I had hope,” she said, potentially “hinting” that the winner was decided before the competition began.
Miss South Carolina, Mira Bonsle, joined the conversation and a growing group of contestants spoke out.
“Women are supposed to be empowered in this industry, and instead we are used as puppets and props,” she said.
“I knew I didn’t have a chance because the end result was predetermined,” Bhonsle said while appearing to take a jab at Gabriel.
“If you’re in a position where someone offers you preferential treatment and you willingly accept it, that’s your business. If you saw this as true sisterhood, you would never submit.’
“I will continue to pray for the people who ‘lead’ this organization,” she wrote.
“As a titleholder, even if you don’t win the Miss USA crown, you still have the right to represent your title with grace and poise, so the fact that these women are speaking out and saying something about the competition speaks volumes because if it it was nothing serious, or they were just mad to win, they would have bitten their tongues,” Ms Bruce added.
“I have a lot of respect for these ladies who are speaking up.”
Originally published as The pageant world is falling apart amid allegations that Miss USA was ‘rigged’