Former Miss Pennsylvania Sheena Monnin told “Today” show’s Ann Curry she’s “disappointed” that Donald Trump has made some of the statement he has about her, but she’s “prepared to continue to pursue the truth” about the Miss USA pageant.
Trump, on Wednesday said he planned to sue Monnin, who turned in her tiara two days after the Miss USA pageant was broadcast on NBC, claiming it was fixed. Trump called her claim a case of “buyer’s remorse” made by her after she was not named a finalist in the competition. Miss Rhode Island was crowned Miss USA on Sunday. Trump owns the franchise, which is part of the larger Miss Universe Pageant franchise, with NBC.
Monnin, said on her Facebook page Tuesday that she saw another competitor correctly call out the names of the Top 5 finalists on Sunday’s pageant “before they were announced,” based on information the competitor told her she had found in a folder before the show. Monnin announced Tuesday on her Facebook page: “I knew the show must be rigged; I decided at that moment [she saw the competitor] to distance myself from an organization who did not allow fair play and whose morals did not match my own.”
Friday morning, Monnin told Curry, “I know what I heard and I know what I, in turn, witnessed come true based on what I heard the contestant said she saw on the list, so I’m prepared to continue to march forward.”
Since Monnin’s resignation, the pageant organization has revealed that the contestant who made the comment to Monnin was Miss Florida, Karina Brez.
NBC reported that, in a statement released through the organization, Brez said, “mentioning the list was ‘a throwaway comment’ and ‘never meant as fact’.”
NBC also reported Brez said, “she feels Monnin is ‘using this situation for her own ends’.”
But Monnin told Curry on Friday, “I know what I heard. There is no doubt in my mind that the contestant was serious when she laid out what she said she saw…I know when someone’s telling a joke. I know when someone is scared, and when someone’s serious, and in my opinion her body language was very serious. She looked a little bit scared because she had just seen something that would potentially drastically change the reputation of the Miss Universe Organization. And this is a big deal.”
“When the names were called out in the order that she said she saw them on the list, that’s just too coincidental to not be true,’’ Monnin also said in the interview.
Trump suggested earlier in the week that Monnin’s real reason for resigning was the organization’s decision to allow transgender contestants to compete. Pageant officials released an email in which Monnin told them, “I refuse to be part of a pageant system that has so far and so completely removed itself from its foundational principles as to allow and support natural born males to compete in it…This goes against [every] moral fiber of my being.”
Asked about that email, Monnin told Curry, “there are of myriad reasons why I’m resigning,” adding that she had also “mentioned fair play” in that statement, but that “I did not elaborate on that when I initially emailed my state director, because I didn’t see the list. If I would have seen the list I would have reacted in a very strong, matter of fact way. I didn’t feel, since I didn’t see the list, that that was a valid reason, at the time, for resignation.”
TMZ reported Friday afternoon that the Miss Universe Organization has filed the paperwork to take up the issue before a private arbitrator, per Monnin’s contract with the organization requiring disputes to be handled through private arbitration.