x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Miss USA contestant owes pageant $5million for defamation

Sheena Monnin, who claimed this year's Miss USA contest was fixed, has been ordered to pay the pageant organisation US$5 million (Dh18.3m) for defamation.

NEW YORK // A beauty queen who claimed this year's Miss USA contest was fixed has been ordered to pay the pageant organisation US$5 million (Dh18.3m) for defamation.

In a decision signed last week, an arbitrator found that the comments from Miss Pennsylvania USA Sheena Monnin were false, harmful and malicious. Miss Monnin had alleged that the five finalists had been selected in advance of the pageant's live telecast.

The arbitrator, Theodore Katz, said Miss Monnin had two motives: "She was a disgruntled contestant who failed to make it past the preliminary competition" and she objected to the pageant's decision to allow transgender contestants. He wrote that the way the contest is judged "precludes any reasonable possibility that the judging was rigged."

Miss Monnin, of Cranberry, Pennsylvania, resigned her state title after the pageant. Her allegations on Facebook and NBC's Today show cost the pageant a $5m fee from a potential 2013 sponsor, Mr Katz said.

Miss Monnin's lawyer, Richard Klineburger III, had no comment on the decision, his office said.

Mr Katz said Miss Monnin agreed to arbitrate any disputes when she became a Miss USA contestant, but he wrote in his decision that she and her lawyer did not participate in the process and claimed they were not required to do so.

The winner of the Miss USA pageant, Olivia Culpo of Rhode Island, competes today in the Miss Universe pageant.