DURBAN: A SCANDAL has erupted over the Mrs Universe 2017 pageant held in Durban recently after a video surfaced on social media this week in which a contestant alleged the contest was rigged and the international organisers were racist.
Mrs Latin USA, Monika Tuncbilek, alleged in a 30-minute tell-all video on her Facebook page that she was asked to pay $10000 (R132 281) for a spot in the top 20.
She also alleged the international organisers called the Indian contestants “savages” and criticised Latinas over their lack of punctuality.
The event was poorly organised, contestants were treated badly and they weren’t fed, according to Tuncbilek. She claimed that one contestant went without food for a day and a half.
When the organisers did give them food, it was fast food like McDonald’s, pizzas, burgers and fries which most of the contestants did not eat, she said.
Tuncbilek also claimed that the organisers had promoted the event as having participants from 85 countries, but said this was a lie.
“About 20 participants came from India and there were five participants from the US alone. So it really wasn’t 85 countries as they had advertised,” she said.
Her video has been viewed more than 13 000 times.
Contestants’ schedules in Durban were full of “meaningless activities” and they had no time to themselves, she added.
Tuncbilek received a legal letter yesterday from a Durban law firm on behalf of the hosts. It asked her to remove her defamatory remarks and video or the organisers would obtain an interdict or injunction against her.
However, Tuncbilek said she was not threatened.
“I am not one to be easily afraid of anything and I know that I am speaking the truth about what happened to me so I have nothing to lose.”
Tuncbilek and pageant organiser Sava Tsekov were believed to have been at loggerheads for the duration of the pageant in Durban.
Tracey-Anne Buckley Aggett, the Mrs Universe hosting director for Africa and first princess (Mrs Universe Zimbabwe) in last year’s competition, said she was aware of the social media comments, but that they were untrue.
“The contestant concerned was disqualified by the International Mrs Universe Ltd company in Bulgaria after the world final at the Durban ICC after her defamatory comments.
“An internal investigation is under way by the International Mrs Universe Committee and Company.
“The South African organising committee has also sought legal advice and is pursuing the matter,” said Buckley Aggett.
However, Tuncbilek said she would continue to expose the truth behind the goings on at this year’s pageant. She said she had support from other contestants, including Mrs Sweden and Mrs South Africa, who had been in contact with her.
Mrs South Africa Trisha Poona said she had a wonderful experience. “However, some of the allegations made by Monika are questionable and I feel for her because I know where she is coming from.
“We were told by one of the other contestants that they were also asked to pay a sum of money and we knew something was fishy if this was being said by more than one person.
“But there is nothing I can confirm because it was hearsay,” said Poona.
Tuncbilek also shared a second YouTube video on her Facebook page in which she confronted the pageant organiser while in Durban about allegations surrounding the rigging of the pageant and being offered a spot in the top 20 for a sum of money.