How One Former Miss Universe Became A Symbol Of Trump’s Sexism

The 1996 reigning Miss Universe, Alicia Machado of Venezuela, joins in the opening number during the 1997 Miss Universe Pageant in Miami Beach Friday, May 16, 1997. (AP Photo/Hans Deryk)
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Hillary Clinton invoked the name of a former beauty queen during Monday night’s presidential debate and for good reason.

“One of the worst things he said was about a woman in a beauty contest — he loves beauty contests, supporting them and hanging around them — and he called this woman ‘Miss Piggy,’ then he called her ‘Miss Housekeeping’ because she was Latina,” Clinton said Monday toward the end of the debate, as she ran through a list of things Trump has said about women. “Donald, she has a name. Her name is Alicia Machado. And she has become a US citizen and you can bet she is going to vote this November.”

It wasn’t the first time Machado has made a cameo in the 2016 presidential race, but in the general election, Machado’s story may have even more resonance as Clinton seeks to reach out to mobilize women still on the fence this election cycle.

Machado was 19 years old when she was crowned Miss Universe in 1996, but her reign was overshadowed by Trump’s very public campaign for her to lose weight she gained a few months later.

“Some people when they have pressure eat too much. Like me. Like Alicia,” Trump, the executive producer of the Miss Universe Pageant told CNN in 1996. At the time Trump engaged in a host of name calling and ridiculing tactics to pressure Machado to lose weight. He told Howard Stern in an interview that Machado was an “eating machine” and in a particularly disturbing event, he invited the press to come and watch her work out.

In his book “The Art of The Comeback,” Trump again ridiculed Machado in a section uncovered by the Washington Post.

“The [1997 Miss Universe] pageant in Miami Beach, my first as owner, was a huge success. We’d sold out the house; it was a mob scene. From my position offstage, I was able to glance up to the greenroom occasionally. I could just see Alicia Machado, the current Miss Universe, sitting there plumply. God, what problems I had with this woman. First, she wins. Second, she gains fifty pounds. Third, I urge the committee not to fire her. Fourth, I go to the gym with her, in a show of support. Final act: She trashes me in The Washington Post — after I stood by her the entire time. What’s wrong with this picture? Anyway, the best part about the evening was the knowledge that next year, she would no longer be Miss Universe.”

“They took me to the gym, and I’m exposed to 90 media outlets. Donald Trump was there. I had no idea that would happen,” Machado told the New York Times in a May interview. “I was about to cry in that moment with all the cameras there. I said, ‘I don’t want to do this, Mr. Trump.’ He said, ‘I don’t care.’”

Machodo went public about her dealings with Trump in May, both in the New York Times and in a television segment on the celebrity news show Inside Edition. In the interviews Machado said Trump bullied her “all the time” and that he called her “Miss Piggy” and “Miss Housekeeping.”

Machado told Inside Edition that she was saddened and depressed by Trump’s treatment of her at the time and that she struggled for years with eating disorders following her reign. She also told Inside Edition that she was going to be a citizen just in time for the 2016 election and she planned to vote. The Clinton campaign publicly applauded her on Twitter.

In the New York TImes piece, Trump expressed no remorse for his public attempts to get Machado to shed weight.

“To that, I will plead guilty,” Trump told the Times.

The story faded over the summer, but re-emerged following Clinton’s mention of the pageant winner Monday night. Clinton’s campaign even tweeted a two- minute Spanish-language campaign video of Machado’s story.

On Fox News Tuesday morning, Trump defended his treatment of Machado.

“I know that person. That person was a Miss Universe person,” Trump said. “She was the worst we ever had, the worst, the absolute worst, she was impossible,” he said. “She gained a massive amount of weight, and it was a real problem. We had a real problem. Not only that, her attitude.”

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Notable Replies

  1. “We had a real problem. Not only that, her attitude.”

    no comment.

  2. Wow, Trump really is a nut job.
    Believe me.

  3. Soon he is going to suspect she was not born in America.
    “Show me your birth certificate!”, he’ll rail (h/t TPM), also tweeting his theories at all hours.

  4. Pudgy Palmer Luckey might be rethinking his support for Trump.

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