27-year-old model Marisa Butler, the winner of the Miss World America 2018 titles (the contest is a subsidiary of the world-famous organization of the Miss World contests) and Miss Earth-Air at the Miss Earth 2021 contest, spoke about the humiliating experience that she, as the winner, had to go through. Her story was published by the portal Jezebel.
The girl remembered how in 2019 she had dinner at the Japanese restaurant Zuma in Las Vegas with Jacob Arabo (real name — Arabs. - Editor's note), the owner of the jewelry company Jacob & Co, which sponsors the Miss World America contest, and director Michael Blakey. At the same time, Marisa was sitting at the table wearing a crown and a ribbon of the winner. The girl was trying to eat sushi when, according to her, an Arab confiscated her chopsticks and tried to feed her sushi with his hands.
Michael was sitting next to me and laughing with Jacob. He did not stand up for me and did not say how inappropriate it was, although it was very clear that I was in trouble and I was embarrassed. I remember I just wanted to disappear. Being Miss World America was terrible, and I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy,
- Butler said, admitting that she had never felt so humiliated as at that moment.
The article mentions that a representative of the Jacob & Co brand's press service, in response to a request, denied this incident with chopsticks, and Blakey ignored a request for comment.
The girl also mentioned that she was pressured to sign a bonded contract with Blakey's agency, and he asked her to pose in front of Ferrari in a bikini. She refused and instead posed in a dress. The contract also stated that Blakey would receive a 20% commission on any event-related gift she received, and stated that Marisa would remain under his leadership for three years-much longer than her year as a winner.
Constant pressure negatively affected not only my mental health during that year, but also almost completely changed my attitude to competitions. I felt so defeated,
- the girl confessed.
A participant named Alissa Anderegg also spoke negatively about the organizers of the contest. The girl noted that it is impossible to find justice for employees. Anderegg repeatedly tried to confront the organization when it came to the treatment of contestants, and she says she was treated with hostility, as if she was a "five-year-old girl" and a "dumbass." It was impossible to file a complaint at the same time.
The girls also complained that Blakey left inappropriate comments under their photos and videos.
The journalists of the publication also collected the testimonies of some other contestants who also complained about the conditions. For example, the contestants were given vouchers for breakfast, lunch and dinner, but often the girls received only one voucher instead of three and were forced to call the organizers to demand the rest, otherwise they risked going hungry.
Another contestant complained about the exhausting fitness exercises that the girls had to do. They were instructed to perform as many repetitions as possible in the allotted time. Many fainted or vomited.
At the same time, the article notes that the choice of Michael Blakey as the director of the competition surprised many at the time, since he had never worked in this system before. Blakey was a producer, and also gained fame on YouTube, where he kept a blog shouting about his luxurious lifestyle. There he boasted of diamond bracelets, expensive cars and flights on private planes.
The contestants described him as a "mini-Trump" — according to them, Blakey tried in every possible way to copy the image of the businessman and former US president, who previously also owned the Miss Universe pageant (it is worth noting that outwardly Michael really looks a little like Trump). Blake's goal, they said, was simply to be able to have access to beautiful women, and he wasn't particularly interested in the contest itself.