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Image: Sheena Monnin
"I decided ... to distance myself from an organization who did not allow fair play and whose morals did not match my own," Sheena Monnin said of her decision to resign as Miss Pennsylvania USA.
TODAY contributor
updated 6/5/2012 7:34:07 PM ET 2012-06-05T23:34:07

In a resignation announcement brimming with indignation, this year’s Miss Pennsylvania USA said she felt compelled to turn in her crown.

“Effective immediately I have voluntarily, completely, and utterly removed myself from the Miss Universe Organization,” beauty queen Sheena Monnin posted on Facebook. “In good conscience I can no longer be affiliated in any way with an organization I consider to be fraudulent, lacking in morals, inconsistent, and in many ways trashy.”

Slideshow: Beauty queen scandals (on this page)

Monnin, 27, alleged that Sunday’s Miss USA competition, which is run by the Miss Universe Organization, was fixed. She said she had evidence that the top five contestants were selected in advance of Sunday’s show.

“I witnessed another contestant who said she saw the list of the Top 5 BEFORE THE SHOW EVER STARTED proceed to call out in order who the Top 5 were before they were announced on stage,” Monnin wrote on Facebook on Tuesday. “After it was indeed the Top 5 I knew the show must be rigged; I decided at that moment to distance myself from an organization who did not allow fair play and whose morals did not match my own.”

Slideshow: Rhode Islander wins Miss USA 2012 (on this page)

In a statement, the Miss Universe Organization dismissed Monnin’s allegations as “false” and said Monnin told pageant officials she was resigning for a different reason: Because she did not agree with the organization’s recent decision to admit transgender contestants.

Story: Canadian transgender beauty contestant wins Miss Congeniality

Pageant officials released an email message they said they received from Monnin on Monday that read, “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 (sic) moral fiber of my being.”

Image: Sheena Monnin's Facebook page
Sheena Monnin announced her decision to resign as Miss Pennsylvania USA on Facebook.
Video: Trump: ‘We’re suing’ beauty queen over claims (on this page)

On her Facebook page, Monnin describes herself as “conservative” and sums up her religious views by citing the Bible verse John 3:16.

Olivia Culpo, a 20-year-old cellist from Rhode Island, won the Miss USA crown on Sunday night after voicing her support for transgender beauty queens. Culpo will go on to represent the United States in this year’s Miss Universe pageant.

Story: 20-year-old Rhode Island cellist crowned Miss USA

“We are disappointed that [Monnin] would attempt to steal the spotlight form Olivia Culpo of Rhode Island on her well-deserved Miss USA win,” the Miss Universe Organization said in its statement. “The contestant she privately sourced as her reference [of pageant-fixing] has vehemently refuted her most recent claim.”

Slideshow: 11 surprising facts about Miss USA contestants (on this page)

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Video: Trump: ‘We’re suing’ beauty queen over claims

  1. Closed captioning of: Trump: ‘We’re suing’ beauty queen over claims

    >> to a war of words between a beauty queen and organizers of the miss usa pageant . pennsylvania's representative is turning in her crown because she claims the competition is rigged. nbc's maura schiavocampo has details. good morning.

    >> good morning, lester. sheena monnin claims the results of sunday's pageant were decided before a single contest and took the stage. but pageant officials say her decision isn't about fair play , it's about politics. the rules say one thing.

    >> the judges now will decide who is most deserving of the crown, based on everything they've experienced tonight.

    >> reporter: but one miss usa contestant is claiming the pageant's organizers have staged a fraud.

    >> sheenen monnin, pennsylvania.

    >> reporter: sheena monnin made the stunning announcement on her facebook page saying a fellow contestant told monnin she accidentally found a list of the top five contestants before sunday's telecast. the backstage claim would have come as a double blow to mennen who had just learned she didn't make the top 16 .

    >> now in random order, here are the judge's top five finalists.

    >> reporter: and the 27-year-old beauty says the contestant's story proved true when the top five were then announced live on the air. in explaining her decision on facebook , mennen wrote, quote, in good conscience i can no longer be affiliated in any way with an organization i consider to be fraudulent, lacking in morals, inconsistent and in many ways trashy. but pageant officials are refusing to turn the other cheek . the miss universe organization , which is co-owned by nbc universal and donald trump , has called monnin's claims false and said the real reason she resigned is she disagrees with the recent decision to admit transgender contestants, a move backed by the competition's eventual winner, miss rhode island . and the organization claims to have proof, releasing part of an e-mail say they monnin sent them in which they say she resigns over her disapproval with the transgender policy change. this goes against every 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. on her facebook page, monnin describes her views as conservative. meanwhile the miss universe organization also says that the contestant who monnin claims saw the alleged top five list has vehemently denied it. lester, ann?

    >> all right. mara schiavo compo. donald trump is the co-owner of 9 miss universe organization . he's now joining us by telephone. good morning to you.

    >> good morning.

    >> i guess the question first straight out is, is the miss usa competition fixed, donald?

    >> it is so ridiculous, the judges who are tremendous people, and as you know, they're supervised by ernst and young and everything is sefrt fayed, they make the choice. and they make the choice very, very strongly and very secretly. and that's what happened in this case. there is no top five. that's impossible, because nobody has any idea who the judges are going to be voting for. you have 15, you have 15 people, and then you have one person that's selected by the audience, by the viewers. we added that this year i believe for the first time. after that the judges make the decision and they bring it down to 10 and then they bring it down to 5 just like you see on television. and those numbers are all certified by ernst & young .

    >> donald, it is such a specific accusation, though, that she makes. i know the organization claims this is over the transgender policy, but for her to have this parting shot with such a specific charge, does it bear further investigation?

    >> well, first of all, the organization doesn't care who the top five are, or the top ten. i mean, what difference does it make? so it doesn't care. and it's really disgraceful that she does it. and what we've authorized today is we're going to bring a lawsuit against this girl. the person that supposedly told her the list, she didn't feel that she was told by another person, that person now totally denies it, and she said there is no list, and i've never seen a list.

    >> are you saying that you have already done an investigation?

    >> oh, absolutely, yes. they've done an investigation. i just found out about it. and they just reported to me about five minutes ago. the person that supposedly showed the list totally denies that that ever took place.

    >> have you met miss monnin before? and if so what were your impressions?

    >> i saw her there. my impressions were she didn't have a chance of being in the top 15, not even close. and all this is is a girl who went there, lost, wasn't in the 15, and she's angry at the pageant system.

    >> in this lawsuit that you say that you're going to file, what are you going to be asking for?

    >> well, she said some very strong things. she uses the word fraud, that's pretty strong. so we're going to be suing her on that basis. but, again, i did see her for about a second. i never felt she had a chance. and all this is is buyer's remorse.

    >> all right. well on that note we have to leave it. donald trump , thanks for

Photos: Beauty queen scandals

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  1. Miss Delaware Teen USA

    They may be beautiful, but the competition can get ugly. From blackmail to sabotage, check out the underside of the pageant circuit.

    First up: Melissa King, Miss Delaware Teen USA, resigned her crown on Feb. 26, 2013, after a sex video featuring a woman resembling her surfaced online. (@Melissa_M_King\Twitter) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. Called Miss USA 'rigged'

    After Miss Pennsylvania 2012, Sheena Monnin, spoke out on Facebook against the Miss Universe organization in June, calling it "trashy" and "rigged," co-owner Donald Trump threatened a lawsuit. (Miss Universe Organization) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. Facing DUI charges

    Former Miss USA Rima Fakih, pictured here on April 11, 2012 as she faces DUI charges in district court in Highland Park, Mich. Fakih pleaded no contest in the case, and on May 9 she was sentenced to probation and community service for driving under the influence and getting pulled over with an open Champagne bottle in her car. (AP, Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. A transgender Miss Universe?

    Jenna Talackova, a transgender beauty queen, protested the decision by pageant representatives to drop her from the Miss Universe Canada competition. She was finally given the green light to go by the Donald Trump-led Miss Universe Organization. The 23-year-old will, however, need to prove that she meets the "legal gender recognition requirements of Canada," according to local media. (Mario Anzuoni / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. Miss California 1992

    They may be beautiful, but the competition can get ugly. From blackmail to sabotage, check out the underside of the pageant circuit.

    First up: Miss California 1992 Shannon Marketic, center, was accused of stealing almost $90 in beauty products from a Target store in August 2010. Marketic, 38, denies stealing the items and says they rolled in the cart and landed underneath her purse. (AP, Denton Police Department) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. Former Miss California USA 2009

    Hosts Billy Bush and Nadine Velazquez listen as Miss California Carrie Prejean makes her highly publicized answer to a question from judge Perez Hilton about legalizing same-sex marriage during the Miss USA Pageant in Las Vegas on April 19, 2009. The controversy grew in ensuing weeks when Prejean became the spokesperson for a national group opposing same-sex unions, after which racy photos of her surfaced. Prejean blamed people opposing her views for the release of the photos. She eventually surrendered her crown after pageant officials accused her of missing events, an allegation she denied. (Eric Jamison / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. Miss Universe 2008

    Crowned Miss Universe in July 2008, Venezuela's Dayana Mendoza kept her crown despite risque photos that showed the beauty queen topless, though covering most of her chest. The Miss Universe president said that Mendoza’s photographs had "artistic beauty." (Evan Agostini / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. Miss Washington 2008

    Elyse Umemoto, Miss Washington and second runner-up in this year's Miss America pageant, was shown flipping off the camera while wearing her crown, playing beer pong, posing in her bra and making suggestive hand signs on TMZ.com. (Jacob Andrzejczak / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. Miss South Florida Fair 2008

    Jessica Wittenbrink, who was crowned Miss South Florida Fair 2008, says her evening gown was smeared with lipstick during the competition. (Uma Sanghvi / Palm Beach Post via Zuma Press) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. Miss Puerto Rico 2007

    Ingrid Marie Rivera smiles during a beauty pageant in Santurce, Puerto Rico. Rivera beat 29 rivals to become the island's 2008 Miss Universe contestant, despite applying makeup and wearing evening gowns that had been coated with pepper spray, pageant spokesman Harold Rosario said. (Ricardo Daz Serrano / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. Miss New Jersey 2007

    Amy Polumbo was crowned Miss New Jersey 2007. An anonymous person threatened to reveal "scandalous" photos of the beauty queen, but Polumbo refused to cave in to the blackmail. She took the incident public and revealed the photos herself on TODAY. (Donald B. Kravitz / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. Miss USA 2006

    Tara Conner, representing Kentucky, won the Miss USA title in 2006 and moved to New York City where she partied in clubs and drank despite being underage. Donald Trump gave her a reprieve, allowing her to retain the title after she agreed to enter rehab and undergo drug testing. (Chris Gardner / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  13. Miss South Carolina Teen USA

    Lauren Caitlin Upton, Miss South Carolina, became a Internet sensation with her nonsensical answer to a question during the Miss Teen USA competition in August 2007. The 18-year-old got a chance to redeem herself on TODAY when she was again asked why one-fifth of Americans can't locate the U.S. on a map. (Patrick Prather / Miss Universe via AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  14. Miss France 2008

    Despite racy photos that appeared recently in a gossip magazine, Miss France 2008 Valerie Begue will keep her crown, but will not compete in the Miss World or Miss Universe pageants. (Francois Mori / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  15. Miss Nevada USA 2006

    Katie Rees was stripped of her title in 2006 after racy photos of her appeared on the Internet. Some of the photos showed her kissing other young women, exposing her breasts and pulling down her pants to show her thong underwear. Afterwards, Rees signed a two-year, $2 million-plus deal to host a variety show at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas. In April, Rees agreed to pay fines for five misdemeanor traffic violations in exchange for prosecutors dropping a charge of resisting arrest. (AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  16. Miss New Jersey USA 2007

    Ashley Harder held the title of Miss New Jersey USA 2007 and was set to compete in the Miss USA pageant before she became pregnant and voluntarily stepped down. Runner-up Erin Abrahamson assumed the title. (Marcin Szczepanski / Courier-Post via AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  17. Miss California USA 2008

    Christina Silva, 24, was declared Miss California USA in November only to have her crown revoked days later. Pageant official say a mix-up in tallying the votes led to the wrong woman being crowned. Silva, who is Hispanic, is suing the pageant, alleging rigging and racial bias. (Damian Dovarganes / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  18. Miss Great Britain 2006

    Danielle Lloyd was stripped of her title after it was revealed that she had posed nude for Playboy and amid accusations that she was dating one of the judges at the time of the contest. Lloyd went on to star in the British reality show Celebrity Big Brother in 2007 where she and other contestants were accused of bullying and making racist comments about Indian actress Shilpa Shetty. (Guang Niu / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  19. Miss United States Teen 2003

    Former Miss Oregon Teen USA Kari Ann Peniche was stripped of her title in 2003 after she posed nude for Playboy magazine. Peniche appeared as a patient on the VH1 television show Sex Rehab with Dr. Drew but was involuntarily discharged.

    In 2009, a racy video of Peniche, "Grey’s Anatomy" star Eric Dane and his wife Rebecca Gayheart was leaked. The 12-minute video was said to be shot inside Peniche’s apartment, and within it, Gayheart said she was high. (Albert L. Ortega / WireImage) Back to slideshow navigation
  20. Miss Louisiana Teen USA 2008

    Miss Louisiana Teen USA 2008 Lindsey Evans was stripped of her crown 10 days before completing her reign. She and her friends skipped out on a $46 restaurant bill, and Evans left behind her purse, which contained a bag of marijuana. The women were arrested for theft and drug possession when they returned to retrieve the purse. (Splash News) Back to slideshow navigation
  21. Miss Universe 2002

    Former Miss Russia Oxana Fedorova was fired less than four months into her reign for missing too many events. She was a law student at the time and complained that being Miss Universe interfered with her education. "I never had any intention of abandoning my university work," she said.

    The pageant president said contestants know Miss Universe is a full-time job and that winners spend 80 percent of their time traveling as goodwill ambassadors. (Dita Alangkara / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  22. Miss America 1984

    Vanessa Williams, representing New York, became the first black Miss America. She had to resign when nude photos taken before her beauty contest victories were published in Penthouse. The crown was given to Suzette Charles, who's also black. Williams later became a successful singer with such hits as "Save the Best for Last," and "Colors of the Wind." Some of her movie credits include "Eraser," "Soul Food" and "Dance with Me." She currently plays the scheming fashion editor on "Ugly Betty." (Yvonne Hemsey / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  23. Miss World 1973

    Marjorie Wallace was dethroned about four months into her reign, after she was accused of dating too many high-profile men, including professional soccer player George Best and singer Tom Jones. The organizers said the first woman from the U.S. to win the title hadn't maintained Miss World's reputation. She later became a television host for "Good Morning Los Angeles" and "Entertainment Tonight." (Evening Standard / Everning Standard via Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
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  1. @Melissa_M_King\Twitter
    Above: Slideshow (23) Beauty queen scandals
  2. Image: Olivia Culpo
    Julie Jacobson / AP
    Slideshow (15) Rhode Islander wins Miss USA 2012
  3. Miss USA
    Slideshow (11) 11 surprising facts about Miss USA contestants
  4. Image: 2011 Miss US
    Julie Jacobson / AP
    Slideshow (14) Californian wins Miss USA 2011


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