While running the Miss Teen USA beauty pageant, Donald Trump reportedly walked in on contestants as they changed in their dressing room, multiple contestants told BuzzFeed on Wednesday.
The site quoted Mariah Billado, a 1997 contestant from Vermont, who recalled having to get dressed “really quickly” because Trump had entered the room. Girls were “just scrambling to grab stuff,” she added.
Billado paraphrased the GOP presidential nominee as saying: “Don’t worry, ladies, I’ve seen it all before.” When she first learned that Trump was running for president she thought, “Oh, gross, this guy walked in on us in the pageant.”
BuzzFeed said three other women also remembered Trump entering the changing room while the contestants ― some as young as 15 ― were in and out of their clothes. However, 11 other participants said they could not recall such intrusions.
Trump is embroiled in controversy over his lewd remarks about women, both in multiple interviews on Howard Stern’s radio show and as caught in a hot mic moment on the set of Access Hollywood. But being a peeping tom with respect to teenage girls would take that lascivious streak to a entirely new dimension.
In light of the BuzzFeed story, however, it’s worth recalling what happened with the Miss Teen USA pageant once Trump sold it to the talent agency, WME-IMG. The controversial swimsuit portion was abruptly dropped, with organizers concluding that it was unseemly and exploitive to have teenage girls walking around in bikinis. They replaced it with an athletic wear competition.
Whether it was just coincidental that the swimsuit competition was dropped once the brash businessman left or related to his departure is not clear. But Trump certainly hasn’t been shy about his belief that more flesh leads to better ratings ― at least when it comes to the Miss USA pageant.
Appearing on David Letterman’s show in 2010, he boasted that when he took over that pageant, he made “the heels higher and the bathing suits smaller.”
Trump also has bragged before that, as owner of the beauty pageant, he is entitled to walk in on contestants; though his reference in this case was not to Miss Teen USA.
“I’ll go backstage before a show, and everyone’s getting dressed and ready and everything else,” he told Stern. “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.”
Trump continued from there. “[Y]ou see these incredible looking women. And so I sort of get away with things like that.”
Editor’s note: Donald Trump regularly incites political violence and is a serial liar, rampant xenophobe, racist, misogynist and birther who has repeatedly pledged to ban all Muslims ― 1.6 billion members of an entire religion ― from entering the U.S.