Harvey “just didn’t do his job well, period,” Hilton said.
“There is a prompter but the moment where he crowns the winner isn’t on the prompter because that moment, they don’t want the other girls to know, so it was just on his card and he read it incorrectly,” Hilton said today on “Good Morning America.”
Hilton, who judged the competition alongside actress Niecy Nash and former NFL star Emmitt Smith, among others, described a scene of “pandemonium” inside the Las Vegas theater after Harvey announced Miss Colombia had won the pageant, only to reverse himself and say it was, in fact, Miss Philippines who should have been crowned.
“It was crazy for us in the theater after the broadcast ended because people were booing and screaming," Hilton said, adding that Harvey "disappeared" from the theater soon after the mistake.
"We didn’t have all the information yet on exactly what had happened on the strip so it was pandemonium inside,” he said, referring to a separate incident on the Las Vegas strip Sunday night when a woman allegedly drove her car through a crowded sidewalk, killing one and injuring over 30 others.
Hilton says his first reaction to the mix-up was that the pageant was "rigged" because he knew he and the other judges had voted for Miss Philippines.
“All of us voted for Philippines to win, so we were in shock and then when we found out that there was a mistake, I was like, ‘This is brilliant. They did this on purpose for publicity,'" Hilton said. "I mean, that’s how my mind works.”
Harvey blamed only himself for the mix-up in a brief news conference after the pageant.
"I made a mistake," Harvey said. "I didn't read first-runner up on the card."
Both Miss Philippines and Miss Colombia took to social media after the surprising ending to the pageant.
In a short video posted to the official Miss Universe Twitter account, Miss Philippines Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach said, "It's a very non-traditional crowning moment. It's very 2015."
Miss Colombia, Ariadna Gutierrez, was also seen in a video on the Miss Universe Twitter handle, saying, "Everything happens for a reason," she said. "I'm happy for all [that] I did
The beauty queen later posted on her own Instagram account a photo of herself wearing the Miss Universe sash and crown, with the caption, “POR SIEMPRE TU MISS UNIVERSO!! COLOMBIA !!!!!!!," roughly meaning, "You’ll forever be Miss Universe! Colombia!”
A Colombian law firm also announced that two of its attorneys will be filing a lawsuit, writing in a statement that, "The crown is an acquired right that cannot be taken away from us."
Hilton says there could be an upside to losing for Miss Colombia, but that she was definitely not the judge’s choice to win.
“I actually think that Miss Philippines, whom we all voted for, deserves to win, one, but losing is the best thing that ever happened to Colombia. So in one sense, she truly is the winner,” Hilton said. “Although, as a judge, and I’m looking at everything that happened, I see her posting on Instagram that she’s the true winner. There’s a reason, many reasons, she didn’t win."
"Congratulations to Philippines," he said.