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Former Miss Pennsylvania Sheena Monnin, who resigned after alleging that the Miss USA contest had been fixed, says she is stunned by a ruling that she must pay the pageant organization $5 million for defamation.

Sheena Monnin said that the “most logical course” would be to contest the arbitrator’s ruling but she is considering her options.

Arbitrator Theodore Katz says Sheena Monnin’s allegations that finalists had been selected in advance were false, harmful and malicious and cost the pageant, owned by billionaire Donald Trump, a $5 million fee from a potential 2013 sponsor.

Sheena Monnin points to a Miss USA contract clause giving top pageant officials the power to pick the top five finalists and the winner, but a company official calls that a catch-all that’s never been used.

Earlier this month, Donald Trump was victorious in a lawsuit he filed against Sheena Monnin, who called the Miss USA pageant “fixed” and “trashy” after she failed to make the semifinals of the beauty contest this summer.

The eventual winner of Miss USA, Olivia Culpo, beat 88 other beauty queens on December 20 to take the Miss Universe title from Leila Lopes of Angola at the Planet Hollywood casino in Las Vegas.

Donald Trump, co-owner of the Miss Universe Organization, sued Sheena Monnin for defamation after she alleged in June that a fellow contestant in the competition had seen a list of the top five winners before the finalists were named on stage.

A U.S. District Court Magistrate ruled in favor of the Miss Universe Organization, awarding it $5 million in damages and stated Sheena Monnin’s statements “showed a reckless disregard”.

Sheena Monnin accused Miss Universe Organization of rigging the competition when she resigned from her position in mid June.

She claimed Karina Brez, who was representing Florida at the contest in Las Vegas, Nevada on June 3, recited the top five women after seeing a list of their names backstage.

In a Facebook post announcing her resignation, Sheena Monnin wrote: “Apparently the morning of June 3rd [Karina Brez] saw a folder lying open to a page that said <<FINAL SHOW Telecast, June 3, 2012>> and she saw the places for Top 5 already filled in.

“After the Top 16 were called and we were standing backstage she hesitantly said to me and another contestant that she knew who the Top 5 were. I said ‘who do you think they will be?”

She said that she didn’t “think” she “knew” because she saw the list that morning.

“She relayed whose names were on the list. Then we agreed to wait and see if that was indeed the Top 5 called that night. After it was indeed the Top 5 I knew the show must be rigged.”

Former Miss Pennsylvania Sheena Monnin, who resigned after alleging that the Miss USA contest had been fixed, says she is stunned by a ruling that she must pay the pageant organization $5 million for defamation

Former Miss Pennsylvania Sheena Monnin, who resigned after alleging that the Miss USA contest had been fixed, says she is stunned by a ruling that she must pay the pageant organization $5 million for defamation

Miss Universe Organization vehemently denied the claims and said that Sheena Monnin had cited the new rules allowing transgender contestants as her reason for resigning.

Donald Trump also denied the claims and proceeded with the lawsuit against Sheena Monnin, who he believed was suffering “loser’s remorse”.

“I did see her for about a second. I never felt that she had a chance,” Donald Trump told the Today show over the summer.

“I know what I heard, and I know what I in turn witnessed… so I’m prepared to continue to march forward,” Sheena Monnin responded on Today.

“I feel an injustice has been done, not only to the other people who were not in the top five, but to the thousands of pageant girls across the country who competed, believing this is an honest system.”

But Karina Brez has also come forward to deny she made the claims seriously.

“Backstage during the pageant, I did see a piece of paper with names on it and like most people in such frenetic circumstances, joked that they must be the names of the final contestants,” she said.

“It was a throwaway comment, in the stress of the pageant, and was never meant as fact. The list I saw didn’t even have the eventual winner on it.”

Sheena Monnin told Today she believes Karina Brez changed her story out of fear.

“She looked a little bit scared because she had just seen something that would potentially, drastically change the reputation of the Miss Universe Organization,” she said.

“This is a big deal.”

The latest accuser, who was not identified, said Karina Brez had appeared “very, very flustered and upset” as the top 15 girls were announced.

“I thought it might be because she didn’t make the top 15 cut, but 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 FOX News.

“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.”

“A lot of the girls now are very upset about how Pennsylvania is being treated and aggressively attacked by an organization that claims to empower women,” Sheena Monnin said.

The top 15 girls are decided by preliminary judging in the days before the broadcast, and fan voting determines the 16th. The top ten, top five and winner are decided in the live show, a rep said.

The scores for the competition are believed to be entered into a computer system as the show is live. These results are monitored and verified by Ernst & Young.

“In accordance with the rules of the competition, Ernst & Young’s tabulation of the judges’ votes which determined the final five contestants did not occur until after the evening gown competition had been completed,” a representative said.

Judge Joe Jonas tweeted after the accusations: “All I can say… Is the Miss USA competition was NOT rigged. Miss [Rhode Island] USA won fair and square.”

The pageant named Olivia Culpo, a 20-year-old cellist, the winner after she made it clear that she embraced all beauty queens – transgender or otherwise – during the interview portion.

In the dreaded final question round, Olivia Culpo was faced with the most difficult question of the night: “Would it be fair for a person born a man to be named Miss Universe after becoming a woman?”

Olivia Culpo never stumbled as she embraced the Miss Universe Organization’s recent decision to admit transgender contestants.

“I do think that would be fair,” she said.

“But I could understand how people could be apprehensive to take that road.”

It is an opinion that Sheena Monnin does not share. In her resignation email, she wrote: “I refuse to be part of a pageant system that has so far and so completely removed itself from its foundational principles as to allow and support natural born males to compete in it.

“This goes against ever moral fiber of my being. I believe in integrity, high moral character, and fair play, none of which are part of this system any longer.”

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Olivia Culpo, a 20-year-old Boston University sophomore and a self-described “cellist-nerd”, brought the Miss Universe crown back to the United States for the first time in more than a decade when she won the televised contest Wednesday.

Olivia Culpo beat out 88 other beauty queens to take the title from Leila Lopes of Angola during the two-hour competition at the Planet Hollywood casino on the Las Vegas Strip.

She wore a tight navy blue mini-dress with a sequined bodice as she walked on stage for the competition’s opening number. Later in the night, she strutted in a purple and blue bikini, and donned a wintery red velvet gown with a plunging neckline.

Olivia Culpo’s coronation ends a long losing spell for the U.S. in the competition co-owned by Donald Trump and NBC. An American had not won the right to be called Miss Universe since Brook Lee won the title in 1997.

She was good enough during preliminary competitions to be chosen as one of 16 semifinalists who moved on to compete in the pageant’s finale. Her bid lasted through swimsuit, evening wear, and interview competitions that saw cuts after each round.

Olivia Culpo won over the judges, even after tripping slightly during the evening gown competition. Telecasters pointed it out but also noted her poised recovery.

Minutes before the middle child of five was crowned, she was asked whether she had she had ever done something she regretted.

“I’d like to start off by saying that every experience no matter what it is, good or bad, you’ll learn from it. That’s just life,” Olivia Culpo said.

“But something I’ve done I’ve regretted is probably picking on my siblings growing up, because you appreciate them so much more as you grow older.”

Miss US Olivia Culpo won Miss Universe 2012 crown

Miss US Olivia Culpo won Miss Universe 2012 crown

Miss Philippines, Janine Tugonon, came in second, while Miss Venezuela, Irene Sofia Esser Quintero, placed third.

All the contestants spent the past two weeks in Sin City, where they posed in hardhats at a hotel groundbreaking, took a painting lesson, and pranked hotel guests by hiding in their rooms.

Olivia Culpo was the first Miss USA winner from Rhode Island when she took the national crown in Las Vegas in June.

She grew up in Cranston with two professional musicians for parents and has played the cello alongside world-renowned classical musician Yo-Yo Ma. On her Miss Universe page, she said she hopes to pursue a career in film or television, and cites Audrey Hepburn as a role model because of her “generosity, intelligence and grace.”

With Olivia Culpo’s promotion, Miss Maryland Nana Meriwether becomes the new Miss USA.

The Miss Universe pageant was back in Las Vegas this year after being held in Sao Paulo in 2011. It aired live on NBC and was streamed to more than 100 countries.

Organizers had considered holding the 61st annual Miss Universe in the popular Dominican Republic tourist city of Punta Cana, but Miss Universe Organization President Paula Shugart said that country’s financial crisis proved to be too much of an obstacle.

The panel of 10 judges included singer Cee Lo Green, “Iron Chef” star Masaharu Morimoto and Pablo Sandoval of the San Francisco Giants.

Asked on the red carpet whether he found playing in the World Series or judging the beauty pageant to be more difficult, Pablo Sandoval said both were hard.

Sharply dressed women and men, including a large contingent from South America, held banners and cheered on their favorite contestants.

The pageant started as a local revue in Long Beach, California, organized by Catalina Swimwear. It is not affiliated with the Miss America pageant and unlike that contest, does not include a talent section.

Contestants in the pageant cannot have been married or have children. They must be younger than 27 and older than 18 by February 1 of the competition year.

As Miss Universe, Olivia Culpo will receive an undisclosed salary, a wardrobe fit for a queen, a limitless supply of beauty products, and a luxury apartment in New York City.

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