Former Miss California Carrie Prejean on Tuesday defended a recently surfaced erotic video of her as a youthful indiscretion and questioned whether it could actually be called a “sex tape” since no one else appears in it.
“It was me by myself. There was no one else with me. I was not having sex,” the controversial beauty queen told TODAY’s Meredith Vieira in New York.
Prejean admitted to making the video of herself and sending it to her boyfriend when she was 17 years old. The tape surfaced during a negotiating session with the Miss California pageant officials over a lawsuit Prejean filed against the organization for stripping her of her crown earlier this year. When the tape’s existence was revealed, Prejean dropped her suit and settled with the officials, who reportedly paid her $100,000 to go toward her legal expenses.
‘Nothing is private’
“You can call it whatever you want to call it. If you want to call it a sex tape, that’s fine,” Prejean told Vieira. “I sent it to my boyfriend at the time. I was a teenager. I cared about him. I trusted him,” she added. “I think now they call it ‘sexting.’
“Did I think it would come back now and haunt me? No. But I think that a lot of young people can learn from this. Nothing is private anymore. Nothing is private.”
Prejean, dressed in a deep blue blouse, black skirt and spike heels and wearing a small silver cross around her neck, also said that pageant owner Donald Trump conducted a sort of private pageant with contestants, hand-picking the best-looking women to go into the finals, even before the judges made their decisions.
Prejean admitted that making the video of herself and sending it — an act that other teens have been prosecuted as sex offenders for doing — was a bad decision.
“It was the biggest mistake of my life,” she told Vieira.
‘Campaign against me’
Prejean was on TODAY to talk about her just-published book , “Still Standing: The Untold Story of My Fight Against Gossip, Hate and Political Attacks.” And even before admitting that making the video was a mistake, she accused her enemies of using it to attempt to silence her.
“The main point is there has been a campaign against me to try to silence me for the past seven months for the answer that I gave at the pageant,” she said.
She was referring to April 19 and the finals of the Miss USA pageant, when celebrity blogger Perez Hilton asked her opinion of same-sex marriage. Prejean cited her Christian beliefs in saying she believes that marriage should be between a man and a woman. Hilton responded later by calling her a “dumb b---h.”
- Keeping Up with the Kardashians Recap: Kris Jenner Plans a Surprise Graduation Party for Kendall and Kylie
- Kobe Bryant Announces This Season Will Be His Last
- John Legend Throws Chrissy Teigen a Birthday Bash at a Comedy Club - and Dave Chappelle Was There!
- Caitlyn Jenner Gets Bangs! - See Her New Look
- Mother of Two and Iraq War Veteran Identified as Civilian Victims in Colorado Planned Parenthood Shooting
Video: Miss California blames photographer Prejean would finish second in the pageant, and she said she was punished for exercising her right to free speech. She cited the same enemies when racy photos of her later emerged: one showing her dressed in just panties with her back to the camera, another showing her with her breasts exposed.
Donald Trump, the owner of the Miss USA and Miss Universe pageants, saved Prejean’s Miss California crown. But she soon lost that, too, when pageant officials accused her of not meeting her contractual obligations. Prejean then sued, accusing pageant officials of libel, slander and religious discrimination, alleging that she was dismissed for her religious beliefs. The pageant countersued, demanding that she pay them back for the breast enhancement surgery they paid for.
‘I’m still standing’
Prejean told Vieira she remains convinced that everything that’s happened to her is because of her beliefs.
“The biggest thing and the reason I wrote this book is Americans believe their beliefs are under attack, and this is proof,” she told Vieira, adding that the sex tape is another example of what her enemies will do to attack her. Video: Miss California speaks out
“All I know is there is a campaign against me trying to silence me,” Prejean said. “They tried to embarrass me. They tried to humiliate me. They tried to attack me. And I’m still standing.”
The book, she said, is her way of telling her side of the story.
“Americans heard only bits and pieces of what really happened,” Prejean said. “I think that there is a liberal bias in the media, and it’s unfortunate that conservative women are attacked for their beliefs. It’s unacceptable and it shouldn’t happen. So many Americans are frustrated. So many Americans believe that their beliefs are under attack, and they should be silent and free speech doesn’t exist.”
Prejean specifically mentioned Keith Olbermann, host of MSNBC’s “Countdown,” who has recently criticized her for what he calls her hypocrisy.
“There is an extreme double standard that conservative women are under attack for whatever it is,” Prejean told Vieira. “If Sean Hannity went out there and said some of the things that Keith Olbermann has said about me, if he says anything about [Sonia] Sotomayor, Michelle Obama, he would be off the air. Why is there this double standard? That’s the reason why I wrote this book.”
‘No one is perfect’
In the book, Prejean talks about her Christian beliefs and condemns the ubiquity of pornography. Young women should resist the pressures of popular culture, of sex, she said, writing, “Our bodies are temples of the Lord. We should earn respect and admiration for our hearts, not for showing skin to look sexy.”
Video: Miss California: ‘I wouldn’t change’ Vieira said that Prejean has been accused of hypocrisy for that statement in light of the racy photos and the video she made.
“I’m a model. I was in a beauty pageant. If people want to call me a hypocrite, that’s their prerogative. But I’ve learned from my mistakes. No one is perfect,” Prejean replied.
Vieira also asked about Trump’s doing his own prejudging of the contestants.
Prejean said that Trump chose the hottest contestants and sent them to one side of the stage. Her story confirms an August report by Miss Universe choreographer Michael Schwandt, who told the Web site Guanabee that Trump hand-picked six of the 15 finalists in that pageant.
“We were so excited to meet The Donald,” Prejean said. “He shook our hands. He asked us, ‘How do you feel about so-and-so?’ or ‘Who do you think is the most beautiful woman up here?’ Some of the girls were on the right side and some of the girls were on the left, and those that were on the left were devastated. There’s a lot in this book that a lot of people don’t know goes on behind the scenes in pageants. It’s not all what it seems to be.”
Slideshow: Beauty queen scandals Trump declined to comment on Prejean’s allegations.
Despite all that has happened, Prejean would not condemn beauty pageants, nor would she advise other young women not to enter them.
“I have learned so much and I’ve grown so much. There have been so many great experiences,” she told Vieira. “I wouldn’t be here today had it not been for the pageant.”
© 2013 NBCNews.com Reprints