The beauty queen who challenged the legitimacy of Donald Trump's Miss USA pageant is "shocked" that she must now pay the organization $5 million for defamation.
Miss Pennsylvania USA Sheena Monnin was "shocked" at last week's ruling against her, she told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, five months after she alleged that the top five finalists of the 2012 Miss USA pageant were chosen prior to the show's live broadcast.
On Dec. 17, the New York Post reported a judge had ruled that Monnin defamed Trump's beauty pageant organization, stating that "the method in which the Miss USA Pageant is judged... precludes any reasonable possibility that the judging was rigged." Continuing, Monnin’s “defamatory” statements “were false” and “showed a reckless disregard.”
“I was shocked that was ruled against me, frankly," Monnin, who resigned from her position as Miss Pennsylvania USA 2012 shortly after the Miss USA contest in June, told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. She added that “the most logical course of action is to fight” the ruling but is currently weighing her options.
Monnin also responded to the Miss USA lawsuit ruling in a Facebook post, alleging that she "had no idea that an arbitration hearing had taken place until receiving notification of the judgment made against [her]":
When I stated my opinion that the Miss USA pageant was rigged, I was not aware of the clause in the Miss USA contract which says that the Miss Universe Organization, Donald Trump, and others have the legal right to choose the top five and the winner. This is irrespective of any publicized selection process. If I would have put aside my excitement of winning the Miss Pennsylvania USA title and taken time to thoroughly read the contract that night before I signed it, I have no doubt that my response would have been the same as when I witnessed Miss Florida’s words come true. I would have resigned.
“They‘re saying it‘s a blatant disregard of the truth, but the truth is right here in the contract,” Monnin told the Tribune-Review.
A clause in the Miss USA contract does in fact reserve the right for the top five pageant officials to select the top five finalists, according to the New York Daily News, but Executive Vice President of the Trump Organization Michael Cohen said the power was never utilized.
“It‘s protection for the Miss Universe pageant and its owners,” Cohen told the Daily News. “It has never been used. The judge‘s decisions have never been overruled by Mr. Trump, NBC or the Miss Universe Organization." He added that the judges crowned Rhode Island's Olivia Culpo, now Miss Universe, as Miss USA without any outside interference.
The judge ruled Monnin's allegations cost Trump's pageant $5 million from a potential 2013 sponsor, the Associated Press reported.
And the saga continues...
See the Miss USA pageant in which Monnin competed (and lost):