As with most everything Donald Trump has ever been involved in, the now-president’s 20-year tenure as owner of the Miss Universe Organization was mired in controversy. Former models for Miss Teen USA, which is owned by the organization, recall Trump entering the dressing room while the pageant’s contestants, some as young as 14, were getting undressed; in a 2005 radio conversation with Howard Stern, he boasted of the special privileges he enjoyed in his position, as the only man who could “get away with” going backstage while the women were “standing there with no clothes.” During the 2016 election, 1996 Miss Universe winner Alicia Machado alleged that Trump had taunted her, calling her “Miss Piggy” for gaining weight, and “Miss Housekeeping” because of her Latinx heritage.
Trump’s turbulent stint as the organization’s owner ended in 2015, when NBC, with whom he had entered into a joint venture, ended all business relationships with the Miss Universe Organization following the aspiring politician’s racist rant referring to Mexican immigrants as drug peddlers, rapists, and criminals. But an explosive new book tracing the origins of the POTUS’ “obsession” with Vladimir Putin reveals new alleged details of Trump’s relationship with the contest — and they’re even more troubling than you’d expect.
The first of two excerpts from Michael Isikoff and David Corn's upcoming Russian Roulette: The Inside Story of Putin’s War on America and the Election of Donald Trump, published today by Mother Jones, paints a clear picture of the racist tendencies reportedly exhibited behind-the-scenes by a man whose contract specified that he could ignore the selections of judges, and choose the contestant's finalists himself:
"Frequently, Trump would toss out finalists and replace them with others he preferred. 'If there were too many women of color, he would make changes,' a Miss Universe staffer later noted. Another Miss Universe staffer recalled, 'He often thought a woman was too ethnic or too dark-skinned. He had a particular type of woman he thought was a winner. Others were too ethnic. He liked a type. There was Olivia Culpo, Dayanara Torres [the 1993 winner], and, no surprise, East European women.' On occasion, according to this staffer, Trump would reject a woman 'who had snubbed his advances.'"
When challenging any of Trump's decisions, the other directors of the pageant had a strategy: "If he didn’t like a woman because she looked too ethnic, you could sometimes persuade him by telling him she was a princess and married to a football player," another staffer noted, according to the excerpt, which you can read in full here. Or, when all else fails, just tell him she's a close associate of Putin — if the events depicted in Russian Roulette are any indication, that's all it'll take to patch things right up.