Former Miss Teen USA contestants allege Donald Trump "walked in" on them changing outfits

“I remember putting on my dress really quick because I was like, ‘Oh my god, there’s a man in here’”

By Sophia Tesfaye
October 12, 2016 6:50PM (UTC)
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Donald Trump poses with Miss Universe Stefania Fernandez and Miss Teen USA Stormi Bree Henley at Trump Towers in New York City, March 31, 2010. (Getty/Mike Stobe)

Four different contestants in the 1997 Miss Teen USA pageant, an event owned by Donald Trump at the time, now allege that the Republican presidential nominee walked into their dressing room while they were changing during the beauty pageant.

Mariah Billado, a former Miss Vermont Teen USA, and three other unnamed women told Buzzfeed News that they recall Trump entering the contestants' dressing room as some of the teenage girls were undressing that year. However, 11 of the 51 contestants from 1997 reached by Buzzfeed News said they do not recall the same.


One former contestant told Buzzfeed News that she was 15 during the 1997 teen pageant, which co-hosted by 15-year-old Ivanka Trump, when the real estate mogul popped into the communal dressing room unannounced.

“I was like, ‘Hi, my name is —’ and I introduced myself,” she recalled, adding that she happened to be fully dressed at the time.

Billado said she remembered Trump saying as he walked in, “Don’t worry, ladies, I’ve seen it all before.”


“I remember putting on my dress really quick because I was like, ‘Oh my god, there’s a man in here,’” Billado said.

“At the time, you’re a teenager, you’re intimidated," one former teenage contestant, who asked to remain anonymous for fear of retribution, said. "It’s Donald Trump, he runs the pageant.”

The former teenage contestants' claims echo similar claims made in May by former Miss New Hampshire Bridget Sullivan.


“The time that he walked through the dressing rooms was really shocking. We were all naked,” Sullivan recalled of her 2000 Miss USA pageant experience with Trump, who owned the Miss Universe, Miss USA and Miss Teen USA pageants from 1996 until last year.

Tasha Dixon, Miss Arizona in 2001, told CBS 2 Los Angeles that Trump just came “waltzing in” while contestants changed for the swimsuit portion of the pageant:


He just came strolling right in. There was no second to put a robe on or any sort of clothing or anything. Some girls were topless. Other girls were naked.

Our first introduction to him was when we were at the dress rehearsal and half naked changing into our bikinis.

To have the owner come waltzing in, when we’re naked or half naked, in a very physically vulnerable position and then to have the pressure of the people that worked for him telling us to go fawn all over him, go walk up to him, talk to him, get his attention.

Trump himself has admitted as much, boasting about his backstage routine as he did about his habit of groping women's genitalia with NBC News' Billy Bush in 2005.

"Well, I'll tell you the funniest is that before a show, I'll go backstage and everyone's getting dressed, and everything else," Trump revealed to Howard Stern in a newly uncovered 2005 interview. "[Y]ou 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," Trump said during the interview.


"You know, I'm inspecting because I want to make sure that everything is good."

Watch Trump boast about his creepy ogling of beauty contestants below, via CNN:

Sophia Tesfaye

Sophia Tesfaye is Salon's Deputy Politics Editor and resides in Washington, D.C. You can find her on Twitter at @SophiaTesfaye.

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