The ousted Miss USA president ripped contestants in the 2022 pageant for accusing her of rigging the competition in favor of Miss Texas, a new documentary revealed.
Crystle Stewart, 42, who lost her position over the accusations, slammed the beauty queens for accusing her of preselecting R’Bonney Gabriel as the winner.
Stewart – who held her position for three years before being permanently removed – sat down with filmmakers for her first interview involving the 2022 scandal to address the claims multitudes of contestants accused her of.
“I want tell them that I actually commend them for using their voice and coming together,” the 2008 Miss Texas winner, who appeared stiff throughout her interview, told filmmakers of The New York Times and FX documentary.
“It shows that if we unify and work together, how it can amplify your voice,” Stewart continued, as she often glanced toward her lawyer, Nathan Sheffield, off-camera. “But they used it for the wrong reason.”
After the 2022 pageant, contestants took to social media to claim the competition was rigged in favor of then-Miss Texas, R’Bonney Gabriel, who went on to win Miss Universe.
“My whole family came and they were telling me: ‘So-and-so said, you know, apparently it’s going to go to Texas,’” Miss DC Faith Porter told How to Fix a Pageant filmmakers. “I remember saying: ‘Everyone really likes her in the staff, but I don’t know if they would crown her because the directors are going to riot.’”
They claimed she was given favored treatment, including a hair and makeup team, and the women had heard rumors throughout pageant week that the Texas-native and fashion designer was the one to be crowned.
Stewart denies any favoritism or rigging occurred, telling filmmakers she was “not at all” involved in picking the winner. An independent investigation by Holland & Knight – who did not publicly share their findings – found that there no rigging involved.
However, documents provided to filmmakers by Stewart claimed she was flagged about favoritism concerns on Sept. 8, 2022 – roughly a month before Gabriel would crowned the winner.
Three state directors, who were not identified, told filmmakers that there was a meeting held about their concerns surrounding Gabriel’s treatment. As for the results of that meeting, it was not revealed.
However, Stewart told filmmakers prior to sending over the documents, she was blindsided by the hefty allegations some contestants, like Miss Montana Heather Lee O’Keefe, who was the most vocal, placed against her.
“After the winner was chosen, everything seemed fine, and then I got a phone call about the video at Nizuc [Spa].”
Nizuc, a national sponsor, had posted an ad featuring Gabriel shortly after her crowning. Contestants are not allowed to work with national sponsors prior to being crowned Miss USA. The ad set off many contestants, who accused pageant officials of preselecting her, which would have allowed her to film the video prior.
Gabriel – who has only spoken once about the scandal and did not attend the 2023 competition last night – claimed she was working with MIA Beaute, a state sponsor, who had opened a salon at Nizuc and had flown herself to the Mexican resort.
Gabriel told The Post at the time in an emailed statement that the contest was not “rigged.”
Now, almost a year later, Stewart still questions how the whole scandal blew up to such large proportions, telling documentarians: “How did we find ourselves here? I didn’t know it would blow up the way that it did.”