A former Miss USA contestant says Donald Trump personally inspected each woman prior to the contest to the point where it was “the dirtiest I felt in my entire life.”
Samantha Holvey, the 2006 Miss North Carolina, told CNN that during an event in New York City in the month before the pageant, Trump personally inspected each of the contestants.
“He would step in front of each girl and look you over from head to toe like we were just meat, we were just sexual objects, that we were not people,” Holvey said. “You know when a gross guy at the bar is checking you out? It’s that feeling.”
As a 20-year-old attending a private Southern Baptist college, she said she was not prepared for what she experienced before and during the pageant. She recalled private parties where the contestants mingled with “old, rich drunk guys ogling all over us.”
At the time, she said, she told her mother what was going on. The final straw, she said, was when Trump and his wife, Melania, showed up backstage.
“He was literally walking around just looking at the girls and then he and Melania walked in,” Holvey said.
They both then proceeded to a doorway that led into the dressing room where other contestants were getting ready, she said.
“I thought it was entirely inappropriate,” Holvey said. “I told my mom about it. I was disgusted by the entire thing. I had no desire to win when I understood what it was all about.”
Messages left with a pageant spokesperson and Trump’s campaign were not immediately returned.
In later years, other contestants also said Trump behaved inappropriately.
Prior to the preliminary competition in the 2012 pageant, contestants remembered them parading before Trump and then meeting him onstage.
“A few nights before the preliminary show, they kicked everyone out and they wanted us to do just a runway show for Donald Trump,” said a contestant, who asked not to be identified by name because she continues to volunteer at pageants. “We had to literally parade in front of him.”
A contestant in the 2013 Miss USA pageant was also critical of Trump’s behavior.
In a Facebook post earlier this year, Miss Washington Cassandra Searles wrote, “Do y’all remember that one time we had to do our own stage introductions but this one guy treated us like cattle and made us do it again because we didn’t look him in the eyes? Do you also remember when he then proceeded to have us lined up so he could get a closer look at his property?”
Searles could not be reached for comment.
CNN reported last week that Trump told radio host Howard Stern in 2005 that he would “go backstage and everyone’s getting dressed, and everything else, and you know, no men are anywhere, and I’m allowed to go in because I’m the owner of the pageant and therefore I’m inspecting it.”
“You know, the dresses. ‘Is everyone OK?’ You know, they’re standing there with no clothes. ‘Is everybody OK?’ And you see these incredible looking women, and so, I sort of get away with things like that. But no, I’ve been very good,” Trump said.