Miss USA pageant co-owner Donald Trump announced that despite the controversy over her stand on gay marriage and racy pre-pageant photos that have surfaced, Carrie Prejean will retain the title of Miss California USA. Trump also commended Prejean for speaking her mind about same-sex marriage during the Miss USA Pageant.
“We’ve reviewed the pictures carefully. We are in the 21st century and I talked about relevance,” Trump told a packed press conference in Trump Tower Tuesday morning. “Carrie’s a model … We’ve made a determination that the pictures taken were acceptable, they’re fine, in many cases they’re very lovely pictures and in some cases they’re modeling pictures.”
Following his announcement, the controversial Miss USA runner-up thanked him as well as her supporters and, in an impassioned and sometimes tearful speech, blamed opponents of her social stands for circulating the photos and attacking her.
“I would just like to thank Mr. Trump for believing in me and allowing me to continue as Miss California USA,” she said. “Most importantly I would like to thank God for testing me with this large task and giving me the strength to stand by my beliefs. I answered my question honestly from my heart.”
To other contestants, she said, “Never, ever compromise your believes in the pursuit of his or her own goals.”
Trump said the controversy over Prejean’s comments proved that the Miss USA and Miss Universe pageants, both of which he owns, are relevant to today’s society and have eclipsed Miss America as the premier beauty pageant.
He noted that President Barack Obama has also said that he believes in the traditional definition of marriage as being between a man and a woman.
Prejean characterized the first set of photos of her posing topless in pink panties as shots taken by a girlfriend for her modeling portfolio that were never meant to be made public. A second set of photos posted by the gossip site TMZ.com this week that showed her topless were also not meant for public view, she said. The pictures show her in a bikini bottom and an unbuttoned vest on a beach, and she said that the photos were taken during breaks in the modeling job when the wind was blowing her vest open, exposing her breasts.
“I find it appalling that a professional photographer would violate my trust by releasing private photos taken on a windy day,” she said. Prejean also said that some of the photos posted online had been altered via Photoshop software.
Prejean, who wore a black suit over a ruffled lilac blouse accessorized by a cross on a necklace, had been accused of lying on her contest contract about ever being photographed in the nude or seminude.
“I answered truthfully that I had not been photographed in a nude or partially nude situation,” she insisted.
Trump said flatly there was no dishonesty involved.
‘I am a Christian’Perez Hilton, the gossip blogger and Miss USA judge who asked Prejean for her views on same-sex marriage, expressed immediate astonishment on his Web site.
“The Donald says that all the topless photos that have leaked are no big deal. He did not touch upon the many ways that Carrie Prejean has broken her contract with the Miss USA pageant …WTF????” Hilton posted.
Prejean said she’s forgiven Hilton, who’s attacks she characterized as “hateful.”
“I am proud to that I’m an American. My grandfather served under General Patton during World War II and that’s something I appreciate greatly,” she said. “He taught me to never back down and to never let anyone take those freedoms away from you. This should not happen in America. It undermines the constitutional rights for which my grandfather fought for.”
She said she would continue to speak her mind about her beliefs.
“I believe no one should be silenced if they are speaking from their hearts. I am a model and I am a Christian,” she said.
Trump also said that an apparent rift between the Miss California pageant organizers and Prejean had been healed. “She will, I believe, do a fantastic job,” he said. “It’s been a very tough period for her. She’s taken a tremendous amount of abuse, and really by some people who shouldn’t be handing out abuse.”
Tinder for a firestorm
Prejean finished second in the Miss USA pageant to Miss North Carolina Kristen Dalton. The controversy over the 21-year-old arose during the April 19 event when, during the interview segment of the competition, celebrity blogger Perez Hilton, who is openly gay, asked Prejean for her views on legalizing same-sex marriage.
"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. "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.
In a question-and-answer session following Prejean’s address at the press conference, Trump dodged questions about his own stand on same-sex marriage, calling it “a complicated question.” But of Hilton, the Trump said he’d “love to have him back” as a pageant judge.
Hilton quickly issued a reply via Twitter: “Thanks, Donald. I'd love to be back next year!”
The Sunday after the Miss USA pageant, Prejean was greeted as a hero by the congregation at her San Diego-area megachurch, the Rock Church. Shortly after, she signed on to be a spokesperson for the National Organization for Marriage’s campaign against same-sex marriage.
More recently, Prejean told James Dobson of “Focus on the Family” that Hilton’s question about gay marriage was the work of the devil.
“I felt as though Satan was trying to tempt me in asking me this question,” she said on Dobson’s radio show. “And then God was in my head and in my heart saying, "Do not compromise this. You need to stand up for me and you need to share with all these people ... you need to witness to them and you need to show that you're not willing to compromise that for this title of Miss USA."
That controversy over her pageant statement was still raging when the Web site thedirty.com posted a racy photo of Prejean wearing pink panties and a smile. Prejean said the picture was taken for a modeling shoot when she was 17. She said just one picture existed.
But then the gossip site posted another picture, saying it had more, and other sources came out saying that Prejean was over 18 when she took the shots. Then, on Monday, another gossip site, TMZ.com, posted more pictures of Prejean, this time from the front and topless.
Miss California officials say that Prejean has been spending her time advocating against same-sex marriage and has not been fulfilling her duties as Miss California. To fill the gap, they created the title Beauty Ambassador for runner-up Tami Farrell and have called on her to make the public appearances that the state pageant winner normally makes.