Published June 12, 2012
Another Miss USA contestant has come forward saying she heard Miss Florida Karina Brez reveal the list of finalists backstage before the pageant’s Top 15 were even announced.
“I saw Florida backstage and she was very, very flustered and upset. I thought it might be because she didn’t make the top 15 cut, but at that point she was able to reveal to me at least four of the five names who went on to be the top girls,” the contestant, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told FOXNews.com exclusively. “She couldn’t remember the fifth because she was so upset. Several of the girls then started hearing through the grapevine about a list; a lot of people were upset.”
Miss Pennsylvania Sheena Monnin first accused the Donald Trump-owned Miss USA pageant of rigging the competition last week. Monnin claimed Brez said she had seen a list of the top five finalists hours before last Sunday’s live telecast even started.
“Apparently the morning of June 3rd [Brez] saw a folder lying open to a page that said 'FINAL SHOW Telecast, June 3, 2012' and she saw the places for Top 5 already filled in,” Monnin wrote on her Facebook page. “After the Top 16 were called and we were standing backstage she hesitantly said to me and another contestant that she knew who the Top 5 were. I said 'who do you think they will be?' She said that she didn't 'think' she 'knew' because she saw the list that morning. She relayed whose names were on the list. Then we agreed to wait and see if that was indeed the Top 5 called that night. After it was indeed the Top 5 I knew the show must be rigged.”
“I feel an injustice has been done, not only to the other people who were not in the top five, but to the thousands of pageant girls across the country who competed, believing this is an honest system,” Monnin then told “Today” on Friday.
Monnin also reportedly texted a pageant official during the show that she felt the contest was rigged. TMZ posted a screen grab of a text allegedly from Monnin criticizing the contestants from two states that made the Top 5.
"Colorado? South Carolina? I'm done. This is ridiculous. It's obviously rigged so the girl they want can shine; they kept several beautiful girls out for that reason,” the text reads.
Monnin did not mention talking to Brez in the alleged text.
The Miss Universe pageant, Brezz, and Donald Trump himself all vehemently denied Monnin’s allegations.
“Backstage during the pageant, I did see a piece of paper with names on it and like most people in such frenetic circumstances, joked that they must be the names of the final contestants,” Brez said in a statement. “It was a throwaway comment, in the stress of the pageant, and was never meant as fact. The list I saw didn’t even have the eventual winner on it.”
Monnin told “Today” she believes Brez changed her story out of fear. The contestant we spoke to said some fellow beauty contestants are also upset by the way Monnin has been treated by Trump and the pageant.
“A lot of the girls now are very upset about how Pennsylvania is being treated and aggressively attacked by an organization that claims to empower women,” she said, adding that other potential witnesses are afraid to speak out given the threats of lawsuits and further trouble. “But if they had to testify in court, I’m sure the girls would do it.”
Donald Trump said Monnin was simply suffering “loser’s remorse,” adding “if you look at her compared to the people who were in the top 15, you would understand why she's not in the top 15. It's a very, very sad situation."
The Miss Universe Organization said Monnin actually resigned because Miss Universe allows transgender contestants, and confirmed to FOXNews.com that they have filed legal action against Monnin.
“The Miss Universe Organization intends on pursuing all of its legal rights and remedies, including monetary damages, against Ms. Monnin for her ongoing defamatory statements,” a rep said.
A source close to organization strongly maintains that the judging procedure happens without prejudice, and that the judges enter scores live into the computer system during each part of the competition. The source also noted that results are monitored and verified by Ernst & Young in real time.
“Our role in the Miss USA pageant is to independently tabulate the judges' votes and verify the results during the live broadcast. The results of the tabulations remain under our control until we present them to the hosts during the live broadcast,” a rep from the accounting firm told FOXNews.com. “In accordance with the rules of the competition, Ernst & Young's tabulation of the judges' votes which determined the final five contestants did not occur until after the evening gown competition had been completed.”
A rep from Miss Universe said that the top fifteen girls are determined through preliminary judging in the days prior to the live telecast, and one other is determined by fan voting making it top 16. The live show then determines the top ten, then top five, and eventual winner.
Judge Ali Fedotowksy was not available to comment on the allegations, and fellow judges Arsenio Hall, Dayana Mendoza, Rob Kardashian, Cat Cora and George Kotsiopoulos did not respond to a request for comment.
Judge Joe Jonas recently tweeted “All I can say... Is the Miss USA competition was NOT rigged. Miss (Rhode Island) USA won fair and square,” and Marilu Henner used the microblogging site to vow: “I can assure #MissPennsylvania 4 of my 5 top picks for #MissUSA were in the final 5. No cheating. Sorry you didn't make it. And I remember!”
A spokesperson for Brez declined to comment any further on the controversy or the claims of the contestant we spoke to.
The Miss Universe organization reiterated Brez’s statement that she did not at any time tell other contestants that she knew the final five.
“We have spoken to several other contestants who confirm Miss Florida USA’s position on what she said,” the rep insisted.
Monnin did not respond to a request for further comment.
Danielle Jones-Wesley contributed to this report