Contestant Miss Pennsylvania, Sheena Monnin, was ordered to pay Donald Trump $5 million for calling the Miss USA pageant “rigged.” Trump can collect the money after a Manhattan federal judge found her claims unfounded.
The 30-page ruling from Judge J. Paul Oetken upheld an arbitration award against Monnin for her angry rants after finishing back in the swimsuit-wearing pack at last year’s Miss USA Pageant.
“The court does not take lightly that Monnin is compelled to pay what is a devastating monetary award,” Oetken wrote in his Tuesday decision.
“Moreover, Monnin undeniable is suffering from her poor choice of counsel … (But) sympathy, or apparent inequity, may play no role in a court’s legal analysis, and here, the law is clear.”
The brunette beauty queen accused Trump’s Miss USA Pageant of working from a script where the final 16 contestants and top five finishers were all predetermined.
She said as much in a text message to pageant official Randy Sanders: “This is f-ing rigged Randy.” And she repeated the charges to a national audience via her Facebook page — and then the “Today” show.
Miss Universe L.P. is the parent organization of the Miss USA competition.
The $5 million payment covers a site fee lost by the pageant in 2013 after Monnin went public with her allegations.
“We applaud the judge’s very articulate 30-page decision, and will pursue all rights available to Mr. Trump under the law,” said Michael D. Cohen, special counsel to Trump.
The pageant took Monnin to arbitration, seeking a $10 million reimbursement — and winning the $5 million fee. Monnin, 28, never responded to notices about the case on the advice of her counsel, Oetken wrote.
“Blindly, but perhaps understandably, Monnin put her trust in her attorney, believing that he would represent her interests,” Oetken wrote.
“Unfortunately, (he) chose to ignore the responsibilities owed to his client, along with the ethical duties governing his profession.”
Monnin, on her Facebook page, said she was disappointed with the decision — but suggested a federal probe of the pageant was ongoing.
“Last June, I was contacted by a Federal Investigator wanting an interview with me to discuss possible fraudulent activities by the (pageant),” she wrote.
Monnin has also established a legal defense fund to cover bills totaling more than $50,000 in the case.
Cohen said he was astounded by Monnin’s remarks.
“I disagree with every statement made by Miss Monnin in her most recent posting,” he said. “And I’m shocked to see that she has yet to learn her lesson.”