Miss Universe has suspended the organizers of Miss USA after a furor erupted following the annual Miss USA pageant.
Contestants in the 2022 Miss USA pageant received an email from Miss Universe CEO Amy Emmerich informing them that Miss Brand, which runs the pageant, has been suspended from the pageant.
“After thorough deliberation, Miss Universe Organization has decided to suspend Miss Brand immediately,” Emmerich wrote. “Miss Universe will be taking over the Miss USA program while a comprehensive third-party investigation is conducted.”
“We are appreciative of the cooperation we’ve seen from Miss USA Director Crystle Stewart as we work through this process,” Emmerich added.
Stewart, the director of Miss Brand and the winner of Miss USA in 2008 before starting to run the pageant in 2020, has come under fire after contestants alleged that the pageant favored the eventual winner, Miss Texas, R’Bonney Gabriel. After Gabriel’s victory was announced and she walked around the stage, other contestants, in an unprecedented move, walked off the stage.
“You can see them exiting the stage before she even turns around. All of them. Not one of them stays on stage to congratulate her or run and hug her,” former contestant Jasmine Jones stated in a TikTok video. “In my pageantry opinion, something was off about that. In my ten years as a contestant, I’ve never seen the girls walk off stage and not congratulate the girls that’s won.”
“I am at a loss of words since it goes to show there were many signs that the winner was already predetermined and myself, amongst all my other sisters, weren’t even given the chance to lose,” Alexandra Lakhman, Miss New Jersey wrote.
Miss New York, Heather Elley, added, “The way I entered this pageant and gave it every last bit of my heart and soul. I had limiting beliefs of the outcome and did everything to ignore ALL the signs,” Yahoo News reported.
Miss Missouri, Mikala McGhee, claimed Gabriel’s victory had been preordained because she is a Filipina-American, and the Filipina community has a large pageant fanbase.
“I think that [Miss USA] are in a state where they are trying to revamp and re-glamorize pageantry here in the United States, because we’ve been seeing a constant drop off in enrollment for pageants, and not just in the Miss USA system,” she said.
“Not to say that Gabriel couldn’t have gone out here and won this on her own, but I think that she was a Houstonian — everyone, again, from the Miss Brand … and most from Miss USA Organization, including Crystle herself, are from Houston. They’re Houston natives,” McGhee continued.
Miss Montana, Heather Lee O’Keefe, agreed; she told The Daily Mail of an “inherent bias” for pageant entrants from Texas.
“I think this is a big issue that a lot of us are trying to bring light to is the fact [Stewart] owns so much of the organization. She owns the main organization, Miss USA, and she also owns the main sponsor of the organization which is a big issue we all have with it,” O’Keefe stated.
“[I heard] they were saying that there was a sabotage list, or that R’Bonney has already been preselected to win,” McGhee said. “I was completely ignoring it, because I was like this is a competition. I get it, you know. Stress can be high, you know, it becomes a little bit of like the intimidation factor. Are you trying to throw people off their game?”
“You know I was really looking at it kind of from a sports world perspective,” she continued. “But again, when you get there, and you start seeing some of the behavior that was displayed at Miss USA week, you know it made me take a step back, and really kind of reconsider. Well, what really was going on was, were these rumors true? And if so, why are we wasting our time?”
“The only thing I know was that there was clear and convincing favoritism toward her in the competition and leading up to the competition. She received more resources than we did. That is the root of the issue,” O’Keefe claimed.