There’s no shame in admitting everyone loves a good scandal. Beauty pageants, which aim to crown the ultimate beauty queen, showcase some of the nation’s most gracious, charming and stunning women. So it’s a real hoot when we have solid proof that they can court controversy just like any other normal human being.
Nobody is perfect, you just have to pretend you are in order to win the crown. So after the curtains are finally closed and the cameras have turned away – the pageant queens feel as if they can finally relax. Wrong. There is every opportunity for the public to turn against them for unreasonable behaviour, public scandal or even law-breaking.
The first modern beauty pageant was held in 1839; ever since then, there have been some tremendous moments where jaws have dropped as these perfect princesses have become the shameful…
12. Miss Hispanic-America Drug Trafficking
23-year-old Laura Zuniga was on top of the world when crowned Miss Hispanic America in 2008. Just two months after taking home the title, she was arrested alongside her boyfriend for drug-trafficking, weapons violations, money laundering and possession of $53,000 in untraceable cash.
A media storm followed when tabloids began to rename the beauty queen “Miss Narco” after they uncovered connections with Mexican drug cartels. They also accused Zuniga of winning her crown through the intervention of her drug-lord boyfriend. She was released after 40-days arrest and made her modelling comeback in 2010.
11. Carrie Prejean’s Naughty Pictures
In 2009, Carrie Prejean became America’s Sweetheart after earning the title of Miss California USA. Then it all came to a halt when she was stripped of her title due to “breach of contract.” The judges had come to learn that there were thirty photos of her in the buff along with eight tapes of the model that leaked online. All the tapes showed Prejean performing “solo.”
Prejean said the leak of the tapes was the “biggest mistake of my life.” She also wrote in her most recent biography, “God gave us our bodies, and it’s perfectly right that we use them in ways where we can give glory to God by making our bodies, our temples of the Holy Spirit, strong and fast.” Well, that’s one way to word it…
10. Danielle Lloyd Slept With A Judge
Danielle Lloyd became Miss Great Britain in 2006. This was until the judges discovered she had not only posed previously for Playboy magazine but also she had been romantically involved with British footballer Teddy Sheringham who voted for her in the final of the contest.
Chairman of Miss Great Britain removed Lloyd’s title and told press, “I am extremely saddened to end our professional relationship with Miss Great Britain. The judging of Miss Great Britain must be above suspicion. Danielle has always told us that she and Teddy met at the party after she was crowned. Now she is quoted in a mass circulation magazine that the two of them spent the previous Christmas together in bed together.” It was reported that she was being sued for $200,000 for damages to the competition’s reputation.
9. Secret Rule Number Seven
Although beauty pageants have been around for over 100 years, some of the biggest competitions including Miss America and Miss U.S.A. would not allow women of colour to take part. This was due to the notorious “Rule number seven” which reads: “All contestants must be of good health and of the white race.”
In 2007, Ecuadorian-American pageant winner Christina Silva had her Miss California title taken away from her after it was revealed the votes had been “miscounted.” Silva then bought forward a $500,000 lawsuit citing racial bias as the main reason she was forced to return her crown.
8. Release of Tantrums and Tiaras
In 2008, TLC launched Toddlers and Tiaras which gave us a behind-the-scenes look into the secret world of kiddies beauty pageants. These mini-beauty queens were covered in fake tan, fixed with fake eyelashes and made to wear sexualised outfits including mini-skirts.
In one episode, the notorious Honey Boo Boo was handed a drink called “go-go juice” (half Mountain Dew and half Red Bull), the equivalent to four cups of coffee, so she would be hyped before going on stage. In another episode, it was revealed 3-year-old Selena was not allowed to play outside as her mother feared that the sun would damage her rosy complexion and award winning face. It all made for very uncomfortable and shocking viewing.
7. Caitlin Upton’s Lack of Brains
Caitlin Upton was a set winner during the Miss South Carolina Teen USA pageant in 2007 – that was until she opened her mouth to speak. When asked by a judge, “Recent polls have shown a fifth of Americans can’t locate the U.S on a world map. Why do you think this is?”
“I personally believe that U.S. Americans are unable to do so because, uh, some, uh, people out there in our nation don’t have maps and, uh, I believe that our education like such as in South Africa and, uh, the Iraq, everywhere like such as, and, I believe that they should, our education over here in the U.S. should help the U.S., uh, or, uh, should help South Africa and should help the Iraq and the Asian countries, so we will be able to build up our future [for our children].”
6. The Uncrowning of Miss Colombia
Well this is certainly going down as one of the most embarrassing moments in pageant history. Twitter went crazy when the Miss Universe host, Steve Harvey, announced that Miss Colombia was the 2015 winner. After realising his mistake, he then had to remove the crown from her head and the sash so he could hand these over to the real winner – Miss Philippines.
The total look of shock on Miss Colombia’s face was enough to start social media poking fun at the beauty queen who became the shortest Miss Universe in history. It also didn’t help matters when Steve Harvey personally apologised to Miss Colombia via Twitter and spelt her name wrong – will the guy ever just cut this poor woman a break.
5. Vanessa Williams’ Penthouse Photos
Vanessa Williams took the world by storm as she became the first African-American woman to win the Miss America title in 1983. Just several weeks before the end of her year long reign, a scandal came to light when Penthouse magazine bought unauthorized nude photos of a much younger Williams. She was forced to give up her title.
Williams has since became a Hollywood actress starring in TV shows Ugly Betty and Desperate Housewives, alongside securing the role of head judge for Miss America 2016. 32 years after the incident, Miss America CEO Sam Haskell finally made a public apology to Williams for what awful things were said to her during the events of 1984.
4. Miss USA and Miss Teen USA Caught Making Out
Well it’s surprising there isn’t a trashy reality TV show called “Beauty Queens Gone Wild” as they will never be stuck for material. Shamed Miss Teen USA 2006, Katie Blair, and disgraced Miss USA, Tara Conner, were reported dancing on tables, heavily drinking and snorting cocaine. They were then photographed making out together by others at the party.
Although Tara took most of the responsibility for the incident, Katie was axed as spokeswoman for Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) underage drinking campaign and she struggled to find reputable work again.
3. Marjorie Wallace Chooses Flings Over Work
Marjorie Wallace not only took home the Miss World title in 1973 but also many famous names such as Tom Jones and George Best. She managed to keep hold of her title for no longer than four months until it was removed due to her failing to “fulfil the basic requirements of the job.”
The rumours were that Wallace was spending more of her time hooking up instead of doing her Miss World duties. She had just become engaged to Formula One driver Peter Revson. Sadly, just a year after her Miss World title win, Revson was killed in a fiery crash practicing for the South African Grand Prix in Johannesburg. He died wearing a gold locket Wallace had given him bearing the engraving, “If not for you …”
2. Miss Puerto Rico’s Anti-Muslim Rant
As if this year’s Miss Universe pageant hadn’t suffered enough drama, there was also the suspension of Miss Puerto Rico, Destiny Velez, following an anti-Muslim Twitter rant. Directed at Michael Moore who was protesting in New York City, 20-year-old Velez ranted, “All what Muslims have done is provided oil & terrorize this country & many others. There’s NO comparison between Jews, Christians & Muslims. Jews nor Christians have terrorizing agendas in their sacred books.”
The official statement for her suspension was posted on the competition’s Facebook page reading: “In regards to Miss Puerto Rico, Destiny Velez’s, recent actions and conduct; the Miss Puerto Rico Organization feels that her words do not represent the integrity and esteem of our program, nor that of our board members, our sponsors and partners, or the National Organization.”
1. Tara Conner Goes Wild
After winning the title of Miss USA in 2006, Tara Conner had the world at her feet. That was until New York’s nightlife took hold of her and she spiraled into a world of gossip, promiscuity, drug use and alcohol. Her own mother couldn’t control her after she told Examiner.com, “There were times when I would hear rumors, and I would confront her. But she had a way of telling me what I wanted to hear. She was a master manipulator.”
She was summoned to pageant owner Donald Trump‘s office to discuss the removal of her crown, but surprisingly Trump found no problems with her behaviour and instead said he found “not only a beautiful woman but a beautiful heart.” Connor was sent to rehab and she swore off booze for life.