MISS UNIVERSE CEO SAYS 3RD PARTY HANDLED RESULTS ... Denies Rigging Allegations

The woman who runs the Miss Universe Organization is denying allegations the beauty pageant was rigged because it was an independent party that handled the results.

Amy Emmerich, CEO of Miss Universe Organization, tells TMZ ... "One of the top four accounting firms in the United States handled the results and verified the process."

As we reported ... Anne Jakrajutatip, the new owner of Miss Universe, has been accused of rigging the pageant for Miss USA, who won the crown over runner-up Miss Venezuela.

A NEW ERA
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One issue many folks have, Jakrajutatip's JKN Global Group owns both the Miss Universe and Miss USA competitions ... which some say is suspect.

But, Emmerich tells us ... "The allegations re: rigging of Miss Universe are false. People saying that it's "suspect" that JKN Global Group owns both Miss Universe and Miss USA aren't familiar with the history of the organizations."

There is precedent for Miss Universe, Miss USA and Miss Teen USA all being under the same ownership ... back in 2015, IMG bought the 3 pageants and brought them under the same roof.

Emmerich also tells us an independent third-party law firm was hired to look into allegations surrounding the Miss USA pageant from back in October, which was also accused of being rigged ... and determined the allegations were unfounded.

R'Bonney Gabriel won the Miss Universe pageant Saturday, becoming the first Filipino American to take the crown. Emmerich says R'bonney was a "strong and dedicated contestant" who is the "rightful Miss Universe."

Meanwhile, the Miss Universe Organization says ... "The false rigging allegations are absurd and distract from the incredible milestones our organization and the delegates experienced this weekend."

Miss Universe New Owner Accused of Rigging ... Pageant for Miss USA

A NEW ERA
NBC

No Steve Harvey, but still a lot of controversy -- the new owner of Miss Universe has been accused of rigging the pageant for Miss USA ... despite some other clear favorites.

Anne Jakrajutatip -- who's the chief of JKN Global Group, which owns both Miss Universe and Miss USA -- is being called out by dissatisfied fans online, who feel like the fact that she literally controls both competitions is a little suspect ... not to mention where this was held.

For starters, Miss Universe was hosted in New Orleans -- airing on Roku -- and some claim the fix was in from the get-go to make sure R'Bonney Gabriel was crowned by the show's ending ... which did, in fact, happen. The runner-up was Miss Venezuela, Amanda Dudamel.

Dudamel impressed throughout the broadcast, especially with her heartfelt answers on certain questions. Her outfits were also less ridiculed than the ones Gabriel wore, particularly in the costume category ... when she walked onstage with a WILD moon landing getup.

All this aside, many are pointing to what seems to be an obvious conflict of interest from Jakrajutatip and co. Her corporation bought Miss Universe this past fall for a reported $20 million, and with it came the rights to Miss USA ... which falls under the same umbrella.

Even before this pageant, there were already gripes about how Gabriel came to be Miss USA in the first place ... dating back to October, when JKN Global came onboard as the new shot-callers. Some have claimed there was favoritism afoot in that competition as well ... and there've even been suspensions in the top ranks as a result of investigations into it.

Of course, another curve ball here is the fact Jakrajutatip is transgender -- something that caught the attention of many when she delivered a powerful speech at one point in the broadcast ... where she said Miss Universe was now owned by women, for women.

Bottom line ... Miss Universe is still as dramatic as ever, with or without any faux pas.

Miss USA Providing Mental Health Workshops For Contestants ... Following Cheslie Kryst Suicide

Cheslie Kryst's suicide is changing the way the Miss USA pageant supports contestants ... and there's a new emphasis on mental health.

Contestants who are currently competing are now getting access to mental health workshops ... Crystle Stewart, Prez of the Miss USA org tells TMZ.

There's lots of mental stress that goes into the Miss USA pageants, which Crystle says can lead to anxiety and depression ... and the new workshops pair the contestants with psychiatrists and mental health experts.

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Crystle says it's all being done through her organization, the Crystle Stewart Foundation, and she says the workshops will help the ladies prepare to be on stage and in the public eye, teach them coping mechanisms for when they feel anxious or overwhelmed, and show them how to avoid a state of depression if they don't win.

It's interesting ... Crystle says the mental health services will be just as important for winners as for those who don't take home the crown. She says the Miss USA winners almost have more stress, because they're immediately uprooted to Los Angeles, thrown into the Miss Universe competition and become overnight celebrities ... all of which require tons of mental prep.

It could be a life-saving addition to the Miss USA operation ... as we reported, Cheslie died by suicide earlier this year, and her mom said the 2019 Miss USA champion suffered from depression.

Crystle says Cheslie's death struck the pageant world really hard, and made her speed up the process to provide contestants with mental health resources.

For now, we're told the workshops are only available to contestants who are currently competing ... but Crystle hopes to set up an alumni program where former contestants can receive similar resources.

Cheslie Kryst 'I Cringe' About Turning 30 ... Shared Concerns Year Before Suicide

Cheslie Kryst's openly worried about aging, and society's treatment of older women -- an essay the late Miss USA winner wrote last year has some loved ones wondering if those feelings contributed to her suicide.

In the March 2021 issue of Allure, Cheslie wrote ... "Each time I say 'I’m turning 30,' I cringe a little. Sometimes I can successfully mask this uncomfortable response with excitement; other times, my enthusiasm feels hollow, like bad acting."

Cheslie, who turned 30 in April 2021, was already concerned about what came along with aging process. She added, "Society has never been kind to those growing old, especially women."

As we reported, Cheslie -- who was Miss USA 2019 -- fell to her death Sunday morning, from her midtown NYC apartment building. She reportedly left a note saying she was leaving everything to her mother ... but the note had no explanation for the suicide.

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Her final Instagram post, which she made within hours of her death, included the caption ... "May this day bring you rest and peace.”

In the essay, the accomplished attorney also shared some angst over chasing accomplishments. She wrote, "Why earn more achievements just to collect another win? Why pursue another plaque or medal or line item on my resume if it’s for vanity’s sake, rather than out of passion? Why work so hard to capture the dreams I’ve been taught by society to want when I continue to only find emptiness?"

Of course, hindsight is 20/20 and reading her words in the Allure essay could seem like a cry for help.

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At just 30 years old, Cheslie was a practicing attorney, had won the Miss USA title and was an Emmy-nominated correspondent for Extra. She also poured a lot of time and effort into supporting social justice reforms -- but in Allure, it's clear she still wrestled with a feeling of emptiness ... despite her achievements.

As she wrote ... "Too often, I noticed that the only people impressed by an accomplishment were those who wanted it for themselves. Meanwhile, I was rewarded with a lonely craving for the next award. Some would see this hunger and label it “competitiveness”; others might call it the unquenchable thirst of insecurity."

Cheslie Kryst Ex-Miss USA Dead at 30 from Suicide ... Jumped from NYC Apt.

Cheslie Kryst, who won the Miss USA crown in 2019, is dead after a Sunday morning fall from her high-rise home in New York City ... TMZ has confirmed.

NYPD responded to a 911 call at 7:13 AM to Cheslie's midtown apartment building on 42nd Street. Officers and paramedics responded, but she was pronounced dead on the scene. Police are investigating, but they believe Cheslie -- who lived on the 9th floor -- jumped from high up in the building.

She was last seen on a 29th-floor terrace of the building ... according to the NY Post, which was first to report Cheslie's death.

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Just a few hours before she died, Cheslie posted a photo of herself on Instagram with the caption, “May this day bring you rest and peace.”

Kryst took home the top honors at the Miss USA pageant back in 2019 as Miss North Carolina. She was an attorney, and after winning the title, she also worked as a correspondent for Extra.

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She used her Miss USA platform to speak out about social and criminal justice reform. She once joined us on "TMZ Live" to discuss that very topic.

She reportedly left a note Sunday morning, stating she was leaving all her belongings to her mother. Her family released a statement saying, "Her great light was one that inspired others around the world with her beauty and strength. She cared, she loved, she laughed and she shined."

The family added, "Most importantly, as a daughter, sister, friend, mentor and colleague -- we know her impact will live on."

Cheslie was just 30 years old.

RIP

Claudia Jordan Trump 'Wanted to F***' Me ... But He's Still Racist!!!

DJT WAS DTF
Political Junkeez

Claudia Jordan thinks Donald Trump was always cool to her because he wanted to get in her pants, and now she's comparing him to folks like Thomas Jefferson. That's NOT a Presidential reference, either.

The "Celebrity Apprentice" alum opened up about her reality show days with Trump while on the latest edition of the Political Junkeez podcast. It's no secret she hates DT now, but back then she says they got along fine enough -- but added that was only "because he wanted to f**k."

Now, she didn't accuse him of trying anything untoward -- sounds like it was more of a vibe she got from Trump -- but did say no one should take his admiration for her as a sign he's not racist.

In fact, she compared him to slave owners who had sex with their slaves.

Claudia competed on seasons 2 and 6 of "Celebrity Apprentice," but also knew Trump from her days in the Miss USA competition.

She says she didn't have any political beef with Trump. Not at first, anyway, but she explained why and when he went to the dark side -- in Claudia's opinion, of course.

Miss USA & Miss America Welcome Miss Universe in NYC for Historic Girls' Night!!!

It's only right that the women who made pageant history would get together for a whole lot of "black girl magic" under the same roof.

We're told not long after Miss Universe Zozibini Tunzi of South Africa was crowned in Atlanta, Miss USA's Cheslie Kryst and Miss America's Nia Franklin reached out to her to tell her they wanted to officially welcome her once she's flown to NYC for her press tour.

The meet-up makes a lot of sense considering Cheslie and Zozibini recently became new roommates.

WELCOME COMMITTEE

And, that's exactly what went down Wednesday night when everyone met up at Cheslie and Tunzi's new pad. The American beauties also had a gift for Tunzi -- a painting featuring the trio to commemorate their historic wins.

As you know by now ... for the first time in history, black women swept the major pageants, which included Miss Teen USA's Kaliegh Garris. Cheslie didn't take long to appreciate the historic significance ... saying she was proud to be part of this group.

So, what'd the girls talk about on girls' night? They talked about progression, representation and how they hope a clean sweep by women of color sparks inspiration to women around the world. Their deep convo should come as no surprise -- Miss Universe is an activist who fights against gender-based violence; Miss USA is an attorney who boasts a JD/MBA from Wake Forest; and Miss America advocates for female empowerment and music creativity.

#GirlPower 💥

Miss USA Cheslie Kryst Working to Free Inmates ... With Kim K's Lawyer

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PROUD TO DO THE WORK
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Miss USA Cheslie Kryst is hard at work on a project that goes well beyond your typical beauty pageant agenda -- and it has her crossing paths with Kim Kardashian.

The new Miss USA was on "TMZ Live" Monday and told us she's working to free an inmate who's serving a life sentence for a low-level drug charge. She's working closely with Brittany K. Barnett -- the lawyer who just secured another prisoner's release ... with Kim's funding.

Cheslie, an attorney herself, tells us she and Brittany hope to do the same for someone in her home state of North Carolina by the end of this month.

As we reported ... Kim and Brittany just helped free Jeffrey Stringer, who served 22 years of a life sentence in Florida. Kim posted a celebratory shot of his family ahead of Stringer's release.

Now, Cheslie's hoping she can accomplish a similar mission close to home.

Kim's got a pretty amazing track record when it comes to this sort of thing ... helping Tennessee inmate Cyntoia Brown secure clemency, playing a key role in freeing Matthew Charles and Alice Marie Johnson, and taking her cause to the White House for a meeting with President Trump ... accomplishments Cheslie says should be celebrated.

Former Miss USA Malibu Fire Didn't Stop Our Wedding!!!

Former Miss USA Tara Conner had no idea the ravaging Malibu fire would turn her into a hell of a wedding planner ... 'cause the natural disaster forced her to plan it again from scratch with only 24 hours to spare.

We're told Tara and Eli James got married on November 11 ... just 3 days after the Woolsey fire barreled down the hills and scorched nearly 100k acres, destroyed more than 1,500 structures and displaced nearly 300k people.

Tara and Eli were supposed to get married in Malibu that weekend but with mandatory evacuations in order, the fire literally growing by the minute and threatening their venue ... Tara says they abandoned EVERYTHING that was prearranged for the shindig, and came up with a whole new setup in Burbank ... at the home of her maid of honor's mother.

Tara -- crowned Miss USA in 2006 -- put family members on flower detail while a friend built an altar in the living room. Tara's father, John, gave her away and her sober mentor, Eric Proctor, officiated the ceremony. 50 guests cheered her and the groom on.

Tara tells TMZ ... "This experience proved that everything works out, no matter what, and has taught me to look for those blessings in disguise. It was perfect."

Congrats!!!

Miss USA Kisses And Makes Up WIth Miss Vietnam ... After Mocking Her For Not Speaking English

Reigning Miss USA Sarah Rose Summers appears to be making good on her promise to smooth things over with a couple competitors she openly mocked for not speaking her tongue.

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Miss Australia Francesca Hung just posted an Instagram picture with a bunch of Miss Universe contestants ... and as you can see, Sarah is getting a big smooch from Vietnam's H'Hen Nie.

Sarah's got Miss Cambodia Rern Sinat on her other side, meaning she's flanked by the two women she ridiculed for not speaking English.

INSENSITIVE COMMENTS

Controversy started brewing even before the Miss Universe pageant officially began ... when Sarah, Miss Colombia Valeria Morales and Francesca went on social media and started gossiping about other contestants.

Sarah directed xenophobic insults at the contestants from Vietnam and Cambodia ... all because they weren't speaking English.

Facing mounting backlash, Sarah apologized for the nasty comments and promised to apologize in person to her targets. It appears she's done so, and hopefully it's all water under the bridge.

Miss USA Apologizes After Mocking Miss Vietnam ... For Not Speaking English

INSENSITIVE COMMENTS

9:45 AM -- Sarah has issued an apology on her Instagram ... she says, "In a moment where I intended to admire the courage of a few of my sisters, I said something that I now realize can be perceived as not respectful, and I apologize."

Sarah also says she would be "grateful" for an opportunity to discuss the matter with Miss Cambodia and Miss Vietnam.

8:02 AM -- We just spoke to Summers' mom, Desiree, and she tells TMZ ... her daughter's comments were taken out of context. She says, "She in no way meant any harm. She doesn’t have a mean bone in her body." As for imitating Miss Vietnam, Desiree says, "[Summers] was just recreating how Miss Vietnam acts when she doesn’t understand what someone is saying. She wasn’t trying to mock her."

Reigning Miss USA Sarah Rose Summers is going full "Mean Girls" at the Miss Universe competition by openly mocking Miss Vietnam for not speaking English.

The pageant competition goes down in Thailand in a few days -- but Sarah, Miss Colombia Valeria Morales and Miss Australia Francesca Hung decided to go on social media to gossip about other contestants. Watch ... Sarah took a nasty, xenophobic cheap shot at Vietnam's H'Hen Nie.

She wasn't done there ... in another clip, she takes aim at Miss Cambodia, Rern Sinat, for not speaking English. Granted, Sarah sounded a little more sympathetic, saying ... "Can you imagine? Francesca said that would be so isolating, and I said, yes and just confusing all the time."

Still, she clearly thinks everyone should be speaking her tongue.

The backlash was immediate -- and in English -- with one person commenting, "The future Miss Universe should not be an ambassador of bullying." Another said it's a "shameful display of meanness poorly masked as empathy."

And, ya gotta love this irony from Sarah's IG profile -- #ifyoudonthaveanythingnicetosaydontsayanythingatall

Well, she said ONE thing right.

Originally Published 7:25 AM PT

Miss Universe 1995 Dead at 45

Chelsi Smith -- who took the crown of Miss USA in 1995 -- and went on to win Miss Universe has died.

Shanna Moakler -- who was runner up to Smith in the 1995 Miss USA Pageant -- shared a tribute to the beauty queen after learning of her death, "I am heartbroken. Godspeed beautiful. You were my friend and a light. I love and will miss you more then you will ever know. The epitome of a Queen."

Reports say Smith fought a battle with liver cancer before passing away.

Smith competed in her first pageant -- Miss Texas in 1994 -- and became the first biracial woman to win the pageant.

In 1995, Smith traveled to Namibia to compete in the Miss Universe Pageant where she won the crown, becoming the first woman from the United States to do so in 15 years.

Smith was 45.

RIP

Former Miss USA Scores Yellow Sapphire Engagement Ring

Former troubled Miss USA Tara Conner is adding more bling to her tiara collection ... she's got herself a sparkly new engagement ring.

We're told the lucky guy is writer and acting coach Dan Sanders-Joyce. Dan popped the question over 4th of July weekend while they were vacationing in Hawaii.

Tara is most infamously known as the Miss USA who got to keep her crown despite testing positive for cocaine 8 months into her reign. She's been sober for a decade.

As for the ring ... it's a 4.83 carat yellow sapphire from INTA Gems & Diamonds. We're told Dan chose yellow since they bonded over their struggles to recovery and the $50k stunner is suppose to symbolize their brightest days together.

Mazel.

'Mentalist' Star Robin Tunney Shades Miss USA ... What Do Pageant Chicks Know About Healthcare??

STAY IN YOUR LANE
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Robin Tunney's advice to Miss USA, in the wake of her controversial healthcare stance, is pretty simple ... stay in your lane, princess.

"The Mentalist" star was at E Baldi Tuesday in Bev Hills when we asked her about Kara McCullough saying healthcare is a privilege, not a right. Although Kara later softened her answer ... Robin thinks it would be best if she avoided talking about the healthcare issue altogether.

In not so many words, Robin told us Kara just isn't qualified to tackle such a hot button issue. The shade got even shadier when she said there's only one way for a Miss USA to have a lasting impact.

GET A JOB
FOX

Miss USA Boo'd for Healthcare Answer ... Still Takes the Crown

GET A JOB
FOX

The new Miss USA says healthcare for all Americans is a privilege and not a right -- and that belief earned her a ton of boos at the pageant, and on the Internet ... but didn't stop her from winning.

Kara McCullough, Miss District of Columbia, didn't hesitate during the interview segment of the pageant Sunday night. She's a scientist at the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and said she's learned you gotta have a job to have healthcare.

There were cheers and jeers ... but mostly just jeers on social media. As one viewer put it ... "Miss DC just lost me with that answer. Girl bye"

The judges clearly disagreed.

THE NEXT MISS USA
FOX

Ex-Miss USA Busted for 5 Finger Discount at LAX

12:25 PM PT -- A spokesperson for Lu's station, KTLA, tells us the arrest is a misunderstanding -- she noticed the earbuds were left behind, and picked them up, "intending to return them to the owner whom she had been speaking with while in line to clear TSA."

The spokesperson says when Lu was unable to locate the owner, she boarded her flight -- but she is fully cooperating with authorities.

Former Miss USA Lu Parker is under arrest for pilfering a pair of high-end headphones at LAX ... TMZ has learned.

The 1994 pageant winner, and current news anchor in L.A., allegedly lifted the headphones Wednesday morning at the TSA screening area in Terminal 6. Law enforcement sources tell us she walked to her gate and boarded her flight.

We're told cops saw Lu take the audio gear on CCTV cams, and tracked her down on the plane before it left. Officers hauled her off the jet and took her into custody. The headphones are worth $200, so she's looking at a misdemeanor theft.

Really bad luck for Parker -- we're told the owner of the headphones is an LAPD Robbery Homicide detective.

Parker famously dated former L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa several years ago, but they've broken up.

Old news is old news!
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