On the morning after Donald Trump declared she could keep her crown as Miss California USA, Carrie Prejean admitted that there may be more revealing photos of her than just the two sets that almost cost her her job.
“I’ve done many photo shoots, Matt,” Prejean told TODAY’s Matt Lauer Wednesday in New York. She said that sometimes photographers continue to take pictures when she’s dressing.
“It would be like a photographer going into my dressing room and snapping a photo of me without my being aware of it. If a photographer is willing to make an extra buck and did get a photo of me, so be it.”
Prejean shared the interview couch with Donald Trump, who co-owns the Miss USA/Miss Universe pageants with NBC and who made the decision not to dump Prejean because of the seminude photos already published of her. Miss USA contestants sign a contract in which they are supposed to declare whether they have ever been photographed nude or seminude. Prejean said she hadn’t.
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But after she raised a tabloid firestorm by speaking out against gay marriage on April 19 during the Miss USA pageant, a set of photos of Prejean in pink panties surfaced on the gossip Web site thedirty.com. When she said the photos were taken when she was 17 and were the only revealing pictures she had taken, another set, including some showing her breasts, showed up on TMZ.com.
On Tuesday, Trump called a press conference to declare that the photos were not objectionable, and Prejean, who finished second in the Miss USA pageant to Miss North Carolina Kristen Dalton, could thus continue as Miss California USA.
Lauer asked Trump if he didn’t violate his own rules by allowing Prejean to hold onto her sash and tiara despite the apparent contract breach.
Video: Miss California speaks out “No,” Trump replied. “We have the decision-making power. As far as I’m concerned, we’re living in the 21st century. She’s a model, a very successful model in addition to being Miss California. The answer is no. the determination was that in many cases they were absolutely magnificent photos. There was nothing dirty. There was nothing bad, and she looked very beautiful, and we said those photos were absolutely fine.”
Inherit the wind
At the Tuesday press conference, Prejean has said that the latest revealing photos were taken during what she thought was a break in a shoot on a wind-swept cliff. She is wearing a tiny vest in the pictures, and in some of them, the vest is blown away from her breasts.
She expanded on that story Wednesday, emphasizing that the photographer was not authorized to sell pictures of her topless.
“I was right on a cliff. The wind was blowing. It was just the photographer and I,” Prejean said. “I should have been a little bit smarter. I shouldn’t have been there, probably, alone with him. But I was making adjustments … it was basically a wardrobe malfunction.”
But the photographer in question, Dominic Petruzzi, gave a differing account through a statement issued to TODAY later on Wednesday by his attorney, Brooke Gabrielson. “My photographs speak for themselves. Carrie did pose for the photos,” began Petruzzi’s statement, which included an underline beneath the word “did.”
“The wind did not blow her top open,” Petruzzi’s statement continued. “I am proud of the images I created — they are tasteful and not at all offensive, just as Donald Trump said this morning. I am pleased that Carrie kept her crown, and I wish her nothing but the best.”
Carry on, Carrie
Trump has given contestants second chances before. Miss USA 2006 Tara Conner was caught drinking and doing cocaine during her reign, and Trump allowed her to go to rehab and resume her reign.
“With Tara that was a very good decision,” Trump said. “She’s alcohol- and drug-free.”
Another contestant, Miss Nevada 2006 Katie Rees, was dumped after pictures popped up on the internet of her baring her breasts and revealing her thong along with other young women. Those pictures, Trump said, “were seriously racy. That was the difference.”
On Tuesday, Prejean and Trump had met with organizers of the Miss California USA pageant and settled differences over Prejean’s unauthorized decision to be a spokesperson for the National Organization for Marriage and her obligations to represent her state in public appearances.
The controversy over Prejean, who turned 22 Wednesday, arose during the interview segment of the Miss USA competition, celebrity blogger Perez Hilton, who is openly gay, asked Prejean for her views on legalizing same-sex marriage.Video: Miss California: ‘I wouldn’t change’
“I think it's great that Americans are able to choose one or the other. We live in a land where you can choose same-sex marriage or opposite marriage," she said, citing her Christian faith as the basis of her beliefs. "And you know what? I think in my country, in my family, I think that I believe that a marriage should be between a man and a woman. No offense to anybody out there, but that's how I was raised."
On his blog the next day, Hilton called Prejean a vulgar name and said that Miss USA is supposed to be help unite Americans, not divide them. He suggested her response may have cost her the Miss USA crown.
Trump praised Prejean or speaking out for what she believes in, regardless of whether others agree or not. And he repeated that the photos she took are not objectionable.
“You have to show flexibility, living in this day and age,” he told Lauer. “These pictures were absolutely fine.”
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