One of the world’s most well-known beauty pageants quickly turned ugly as contestants snubbed a congratulations for the winner and stormed off stage over allegations of cheating.
R'Bonney Gabriel, representing Texas, was awarded the Miss USA prize but had to celebrate by herself after fuming rivals claimed they had evidence the decision was fixed in advance.
The 28-year-old became the first Asian and Filipina American to win the pageant but has seen her victory marred in the storm of allegations.
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Fellow beauty contestant Heather Lee O'Keefe, who represented Montana, has been one of the most vocal with the claims and says she has “receipts” to back it up.
According to O'Keefe, Gabriel visited a plastic surgery spa – that is part of the competition’s prize – nine weeks before the win was announced, and just hours after she was awarded the Miss USA title a glossy video was uploaded of her visit.
She reckons this shows how they knew of her victory in advance as no other contestants are known to have produced the same video.
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Others grew suspicious when the pageant director was reportedly pictured doing the winner's hair backstage.
Wild O'Keefe seethed: “Most of the Miss USA contestants feel very strongly that there was favoritism towards Miss Texas USA and we have the receipts to prove it.
“We are putting our titles on the line, putting our reputations on the line. That’s how strongly we feel about believing and standing up for what is right.
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“There are many of us who have even said we are willing to relinquish our titles to take this stand because that's how serious we are about this.”
She also said a lawsuit had been launched against the competition’s organisers but remained elusive over specific details.
The newly-crowned Miss USA responded to the rigged claims, telling E!: "I would never enter any pageant or any competition I knew I would win. I have a lot of integrity."
The Daily Star has contacted Miss USA for a comment on the claims.
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