Miss USA 2012 Oliva Culpo may be carrying a cool demeanor beneath her pageant crown but the allegations over whether she won the title fair and square are as heated as ever.
Less than two weeks after one of the 50 women who lost to Culpo, Miss Pennsylvania Sheena Monnin, resigned her title and charged that the pageant was a “fraud,” a second contestant has come forward to back Monnin’s claims that the pageant’s finalists were selected in advance.
The contestant, who is remaining anonymous, told FOXNews.com that she too heard Miss Florida Karina Brez reveal the list of finalists backstage before the top 15 finalists were announced on stage, the same allegation made by Monnin in a Facebook post the day after the June 3 pageant.
“I saw Florida backstage and she was very, very flustered and upset…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 told the website in an exclusive interview. “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.”
The Donald Trump-owned Miss Universe Organization that runs the Miss USA pageant has filed legal action against Monnin for defamation and says the new claims made by the anonymous contestant are just as false.
“We’re relying on the facts and the facts are on our side,” Paula Shugart, the president of the Miss Universe Organization, told ABCNews.com today. “I don’t put a lot of credibility in anonymous sources.”
“The first thing I say when the contestants show up is 50 of you are going to be unhappy so make sure you have a great experience,” Shugart said.
The organization has vigorously fought back against Monnin’s claims in the media, unleashing both Trump, who called Monnin a “sore loser,” and the pageant winner, Culpo, who said her former competitor was exhibiting “a silly little piece of poor sportsmanship,” to dispute the former beauty queen.
The one person the public has not heard from is Miss Florida herself who has only issued a statement denying she saw the list. Brez was scheduled to appear alongside Culpo, the former Miss Rhode Island, on “Good Morning America” but backed out at the last minute.
“Not at all,” Shugart said when asked if the organization was restricting Brez’s appearances. “She is the only person in this whole thing that said she saw anything and she has said what she saw did not have the five on it. She wants this all to go away as much as everybody else.”
Shugart confirmed reports that lawyers for the Miss Universe Organization have been interviewing each contestant. She echoed claims made by Culpo, however, that the only list that anyone could have seen would have been one of the lists used in the pageant’s many rehearsals before the live televised show.
“The bottom line of this whole thing is it’s impossible,” Shugart said. “I don’t even know who the top five is. I sat in the audience and guessed and I was wrong. It happens in a matter of minutes.”
“The only that that has been consistent is that nobody said they saw a list,” she said of the contestants’ accounts of what happened backstage. “They all have a different version and it’s all been hearsay.”
For its part, Ernst & Young, the accounting firm that tabulates the pageant results, issued a statement today defending its work with the pageant.
“Ernst & Young tabulated the list of the top ten Miss USA finalists after the swimsuit competition was completed and then tabulated the list of the final five Miss USA finalists after the evening gown competition was completed,” the statement read. “Therefore, neither the Miss Universe Organization, Donald Trump, NBC, the eight celebrity judges, nor any of the contestants could have known who the final five Miss USA finalists were before the evening gown competition was completed and the tabulation was verified by Ernst & Young during the live broadcast.”
Of the eight celebrity judges, who included everyone from Rob Kardashian to former “Bachelorette” Ali Fedotowsky, two have come forward since the allegations were first made to say they were the ones who chose Culpo as Miss USA.
“All I can say… Is the Miss USA competition was NOT rigged. Miss (Rhode Island) USA won fair and square,” Joe Jonas tweeted.
“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!,” fellow judge Marilu Henner wrote on her own Twitter page.