Miss USA winner denies allegations that pageant was ‘rigged’


Diamond Silver Crown for Miss Pageant Beauty Contest, Crystal Tiara jewelry decorated gems stone and abstract dark background on black velvet fabric cloth.

(NewsNation) — R’Bonney Gabriel was crowned Miss USA, making history as the first Filipina American winner.

But some of her competitors, like Miss Montana Heather Lee O’Keefe felt the moment was anything but picture-perfect and walked off stage in protest, claiming this year’s pageant was “rigged.”

 “We thought this was an ethical and moral organization. And that’s what we wanted to be a part of, and it just turned out to not be that way. So that’s why we’re all so heartbroken over this,” O’Keefe said.

Among many of the allegations, O’Keefe says Gabriel worked with one of the sponsors of the pageant, which violates a contract all the contestants had to sign, according to O’Keefe.

“She explicitly broke her contract that we all signed with the Miss USA organization,” O’Keefe said. “Our contract says that during our time as title holders, we are not allowed to enter into any kind of personal services contracts including brand ambassadorships with any individual corporation or organization and Miss Texas USA breached this agreement when she accepted the invitation from Nezuko Resort who is a national sponsor of the Miss USA organization. When she went to their resort she was not allowed to do that this was an explicit breach of our contract and she was with Miss USA and she and she won anyway.”

O’Keefe also says Gabriel was flown out to a resort by one of the pageants sponsors. Gabriel admits she took the trip earlier this year as Miss Texas but says she paid for it.

The 28-year-old denies all cheating allegations and maintains that she is the rightful title holder.

“I just want to clarify that it was not rigged whatsoever,” Gabriel said. “I didn’t have an unfair advantage or knew that I was going to win. I worked very, very hard to get to where I am now.”

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