Miss Universe Organization denies ‘absurd’ allegations about competition being rigged after Miss USA’s win

The Miss Universe Organization has denied allegations about rigging this year’s competition, days after Miss USA R’Bonney Gabriel became the first Filipina American to take home the crown.

The company issued a statement to The Independent on Tuesday, on the heels of viewers on Twitter claiming that the competition favoured Miss USA over the other contestants and calling Gabriel’s win a “fraud”.

The statement addressed how fans assumed that the competition was rigged because it’s owned by the JKN Global Group, founded by transgender businesswoman Anne Jakkapong Jakrajutatip, which also owns the Miss USA competition.

“The allegations re: rigging of Miss Universe are false,” Amy Emmerich, the CEO of Miss Universe Organization, said.  “People saying that it’s ‘suspect’ that JKN Global Group owns both Miss Universe and Miss USA aren’t familiar with the history of the organizations. ​​One of the top 4 accounting firms in the United States handled the results and verified the process.”

Emmerich also revealed that when a firm looked at allegations, first made in October, about Gabriel’s Miss USA win being rigged, those claims were not found.

“With regards to the old Miss USA allegations, an independent third party law firm was hired to look into them,” she said. “Their results showed that the rigging allegations were unfounded. R’Bonney has been a strong and dedicated contestant.”

She concluded her statement by congratulating Gabriel for her new title, adding: “She is the rightful Miss Universe. I look forward to this much attention being focused on her non-profit work as well.”

At Saturday’s competition, the Miss USA winner finished in first place, ahead of first runner-up Miss Venezuela, Amanda Dudmel. The second-runner up was Miss Dominican Republic, Andreína Martínez.

In another statement toToday, the Miss Universe Organization continued to slam the rigging claims and noted that they’ll be directing their attention towards more important topics.

“The false rigging allegations are absurd and distract from the incredible milestones our organisation and the delegates experienced this weekend,” the company added. “Instead of focusing on unfounded statements, we will continue to shine a light on global women’s empowerment, inclusiveness, diversity, and transformational leadership.”

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

The organisation also acknowledged some of other wins that came out of Saturday’s competition, including how it was “the first time a trans woman addressed fans as the owner of Miss Universe” and “the first time a Filipina American took the crown”.

Back in October, Gabriel shut down rumours that this year’s Miss USA competition was “rigged” after she took home the title. The remarks were partly in response to a viral TikTok video shared by Miss Montana Heather Lee O’Keefe, who claimed that she and her fellow contestants felt like there was “favouritism towards Miss Texas USA” and they “had the receipts to prove it”.

“I want to start by saying it was not rigged,” Gabriel said during an interview on E! News’ The Rundown. “I would never enter any pageant or any competition that I know I would win. I have a lot of integrity.”

She also addressed the importance of discussing these rumours, explaining: “As Miss USA, I don’t want girls to think that this is how pageantry works. This is to celebrate women. We work very hard, and I have respect for all the women that showed up on that stage.”

Following her win on Saturday, Gabriel took to Instagram to celebrate and express her gratitude for her peers.

“My heart is over the moon,” she wrote in the caption of her post, which included a photo of her in her sash and crown. “These past 15 days have changed my life. I carry this new title with the strength of all the incredible women I have come across this month. It is an honour to be here, and it is my mission to make the universe proud.”