Crown Stays On: Rima Fakih to Tour Country as Miss USA

Miss USA organization going ahead with planned media tour starring Fakih.

ByABC News
May 18, 2010, 9:01 AM

May 18, 2010— -- It appears new Miss USA Rima Fakih will strut on with her crown, despite revelations that she strutted her stuff during a pole dancing contest in 2007.

The Miss USA pageant will go ahead with its planned media tour starring Fakih, a representative from the organization told today. According to sources, Fakih is currently receiving media training, which will, no doubt, help when she's inundated with questions about winning a Detroit radio show's exotic dance contest three years ago.

Donald Trump, who owns the Miss Universe pageant, the parent organization of Miss USA, is not expected to comment on the contest flap. In the past, he's been vocal about his controversial beauty queens, including former Miss California USA 2009 Carrie Prejean and Miss USA 2006 Tara Conner.

Fakih, 24, won the title as the country's most beautiful woman Sunday night in Las Vegas. But after pictures of Fakih in her tiara and sash made the rounds through the media, another batch of photos stole the spotlight: shots of the statuesque brunette in red short shorts, a tiny tank top and towering stilettos, balancing against a pole.

Fakih won the "Stripper 101" contest which was sponsored by a Detroit radio show Mojo in the Morning in 2007.

Spike, the co-host of Mojo, said news of Fakih's stripping success drew the attention of the Miss Universe organization.

"The Miss Universe representatives called earlier today," Spike told Monday. "They wanted to see if we have more photos or information."

"They couldn't tell us what their intentions were and we didn't want to give them anything that might cause her to relinquish her crown," he said.

Spike called the inquiry "ridiculous" because "she's wearing more clothes in the photos on our site than she was in those photos for the pageant."

He said the contest was run by actual strippers, but the contestants did not strip. "They're not naked. They're encouraged to wear comfortable clothes," Spike said.

Fakih won some jewelry from the show's sponsors and a take-home stripper pole.

It was the latest controversy for the Miss USA pageant. In 2009, the pageant's winner was overshadowed by the comments of runner-up Prejean opposing gay marriage. She was later stripped of her title as Miss USA runner-up and as Miss California because of a sexually explicit videotape in which she appeared alone.

Miss USA Is a Muslim Immigrant From Lebanon

Regardless of Fakih's past endeavors, in Michigan on Monday, people were beaming over her selection. The broadest smiles were on the many faces of Arab immigrants in Dearborn.

Fakih is a Lebanese immigrant and a Muslim. While the pageant was not certain whether she was the first Muslim or immigrant to win the title, her reign clearly comes at a time when many in the Arab and Muslim world are suspicious and hostile to America -- and believe that America is hostile to them.

The title also comes as there is increased scrutiny of the conservative Muslim practice of cloaking women in burqas or hijabs, all encompassing clothes meant to hide the woman's body from everyone except a woman's husband.

"It's so exciting. It's so amazing. I love it," gushed Fatan Fawzi, who is 32 and describes herself as a mother. "I'm so happy because I'm Arabic like her. She's so pretty. I saw her face on TV... She's so lucky."

Rana Aoun is 20 and lives in Fakih's hometown of Dearborn. "I feel like she represents all of us and we're so proud of her. She's beautiful, she's intelligent," she said.