On social media, some fans have accused the Miss Universe pageant of being rigged by its new owner, Anne Jakrajutatip, who also owns Miss USA.
The pageant took place over the weekend and Texas native R’Bonney Gabriel emerged as the winner, with contestants from Venezuela and the Dominican Republic taking second and third place.
Controversy also followed Gabriel’s Miss USA win. Miss Montana, Heather Lee O’Keefe, claimed that competition was rigged. Her social media accounts have since been made private.
Fans accusing the pageant of being rigged pointed to Gabriel’s difficulty walking during the costume segment of the competition, where her outfit paid tribute to NASA and included a moon and stars suspended above her head.
Thai media executive Jakrajutatip bought the Miss Universe Miss USA and Miss Teen USA pageants in 2022.
She has said she wants to change the pageant to represent women’s empowerment, and has already eliminated prizes for most photogenic and best swimwear.
The pageant will also become more inclusive in 2023, with married women and mothers being allowed to enter.
Those calling the competition rigged say Jakrajutatip has a conflict of interest because she also owns Miss USA and Gabriel’s win shows is a sign of favoritism.