MANILA, Philippines - Miss Australia Jesinta Campbell has accused her fellow contestants of sabotage in the just-concluded 2010 Miss Universe pageant held in Las Vegas.
According to a Yahoo.com story, Miss Australia said that one of her 82 rivals tampered with her festive national dress just before she took the stage during the National Costume competition.
But Miss Philippines Venus Raj, who was one of those reportedly being suspected by Campbell, denied she had a hand in it and said Miss Australia may have been misquoted.
“I didn’t do it!” was Venus Raj’s reaction to the story that came out in several websites. Although not directly quoted, Miss Australia was reported to have “singled out” contestants from Mexico, the Philippines, and Central and South America among the “competitor-suspects.”
Miss Australia finished second runner-up to Miss Mexico Ximena Navarrete, with Miss Jamaica as first runner-up, Miss Ukraine as third runner-up and Venus as fourth runner-up.
“There was a bit of sabotage backstage,” Miss Australia was quoted as having told Australia’s Nova 91.9 radio station. “When I went out to put it on I found six pins in the back of it, so when I put it on I scratched all the back of my back. I was like ‘Ooh! What’s that?’”
So well-liked was Miss Australia by the other girls that they voted her Miss Congeniality. Along with Venus and four other contestants, Miss Australia was picked by the Miss Universe Organization to promote the pageant, so they flew to Los Angeles ahead of the rest before they proceeded to Las Vegas for the coronation night on Aug. 24 (Manila time, Aug. 23 in the US).
“I was Miss Australia’s roommate in LA,” Venus told The STAR in a phone interview, “and I found her nice, mabait talaga siya kaya nga nanalo siyang Miss Congeniality.”
When contacted by The STAR, Venus was in Naga City to sit as judge in the 2010 Miss Bicolandia contest together with Francis Padua Papica, head of the foundation that sent Venus as a scholar to the Bicol University where she graduated cum laude with a degree in Journalism.
“I haven’t read the story,” said Venus. “Somebody just told me about it. Was Miss Australia quoted? If she was, I can’t believe that she would say that, kasi mabait nga siya. She could have been misquoted or quoted out of context.”
The Yahoo.com story mentioned what Miss Australia reportedly told The Herald Sun: “Winning is so important for those girls because they become queens in their country and are worshipped if they win - and it changes everything forever for them. But there were 82 other girls there and I can’t narrow it down, so it’s a mystery to me,” adding, “But I know who didn’t do it - my best friends were the girls from Ireland, Belgium, Great Britain and Guam, and I know they wouldn’t have done that to me.”
Said Venus, “We were not roommates anymore in Las Vegas. I didn’t even know what room she was in or what gown she was wearing for what portion of the pageant. But definitely, I didn’t do it. I won’t ever do it. Why would I do it, why should I do it?”
The Yahoo.com story also noted that Miss Ausralia’s dress “seemed to give her problems even before the sudden appearance of the pins, with critics blasting it as a fashion ‘travesty’ and a ‘national joke’,” adding that Miss Australia wasn’t the only contestant “whose taste was questioned during the National Costume competition but also Miss USA Rima Fakih who also raised eyebrows with her splashy Victoria’s Secret/presidential seal hybrid.”
However, Miss Australia was quoted in another story describing her gown as “incredible” and “something I am really proud to wear - I feel magnificent in it.”
“I hope Miss Australia will set the record straight,” said Venus. “It’s unfair to us who are being suspected.”
But Miss Australia qualified, “I’m not pointing any fingers.”
Ricky Lo, Philippine Star