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Former Miss Teen USA Contestants Say Trump Walked in on Them Changing

Four contestants from Donald Trump's 1997 Miss Teen USA pageant and one from his 2001 Miss USA pageant remember him waltzing through the changing room while young women were undressed.

by Lauren Messman
Oct 12 2016, 3:35pm

Donald Trump with winners and contestants of the 2013 Miss Teen, Miss USA, and Miss Universe pageants. TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images

Donald Trump, who owned Miss Teen USA, Miss USA, and Miss Universe from 1996 to 2015, waltzed through the dressing room while female contestants as young as 15 were changing, four women who competed in the 1997 Miss Teen USA beauty pageant allege.

Former Miss Vermont Teen USA Mariah Billado told BuzzFeed News that she remembered Trump walking through the dressing room at one point and saying something along the lines of, "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. "I remember it shocking me. I barely let anybody except my sister see me getting dressed."

Three additional 1997 contestants, who wanted to stay anonymous, said they too recall Trump bursting in as girls rushed to cover themselves. BuzzFeed News managed to reach 15 of the 51 contestants who competed in that pageant. Eleven of them said they did not remember Trump being in the dressing room, and all 15 said they didn't recall Trump saying anything sexually suggestive or getting physical.

Nevertheless, Trump apparently made a habit out of frequenting his pageants' dressing rooms. Former Miss Arizona Tasha Dixon, who competed in the Trump-owned Miss USA pageant in 2001, said contestants were encouraged to greet Trump when he pranced through their changing room.

"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," Dixon, who was 18 at the time of the pageant, told CBS Los Angeles. She added, "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 even bragged about his occasional changing room "check-ins" on The Howard Stern Show.

"I'll go backstage before a show, and everyone's getting dressed and ready and everything else. And you 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," he told the radio host in April 2005. "You know they're standing there with no clothes. And you see these incredible looking women. And so I sort of get away with things like that."

The troubling pageant allegations fall in step with the now famous comments Trump was caught saying to Billy Bush while wearing a hot mic in 2005, in which he boasted about being able to grab women "by the pussy" and his failed sexual advances on a married woman. While critics say his lewd comments glorify sexual assault, Trump continues to brush them off as just "locker room talk."

"And when you're a star, they let you do it. You can do anything," he said on the tape. Perhaps he felt the same way at his pageants.

Read: Donald Trump and What Men Say When They Think Women Won't Hear