US & Canada

Alicia Machado: Ex-Miss Universe claims Trump called her 'Miss Piggy'

New Miss Universe Alicia Machado of Venezuela reacts as she is crowned at the Miss Universe competition in Las Vegas on 17 May, 1996 Image copyright AP
Image caption Alicia Machado represented Venezuela at the 1996 beauty contest

Alicia Machado rose to international fame in 1996, after being crowned Miss Universe at the age of 19.

Now, 20 years later, she is back in the headlines.

Ms Machado claims she was called "Miss Piggy" by Donald Trump, the Republican candidate for the White House who owned the beauty pageant when she won it.

The remarks were made, the Venezuela-born model says, after she put on some weight following her win.

How did it come up?

Image copyright Reuters

The issue was brought up by Hillary Clinton, the Democratic presidential nominee, during Monday's televised debate with Mr Trump. She was making a point about her rival's remarks about women.

"This is a man who has called women pigs, slobs and dogs and someone who has said pregnancy is an inconvenience to employers, who has said that women don't deserve equal pay unless they do as good a job as men.

"And one of the worst things he said was about a woman in a beauty contest. He loves beauty contests, supporting them and hanging around them.

"And he called this woman 'Miss Piggy.' Then he called her 'Miss Housekeeping,' because she was Latina. Donald, she has a name. Her name is Alicia Machado.

"And she has become a US citizen and you can bet she is going to vote this November."

What is the claim?

Image copyright Twitter - @HillaryClinton

In a campaign video posted by Mrs Clinton on Twitter, Ms Machado claims Mr Trump threatened to take her crown away after she gained weight.

"He was overwhelming. I was very scared of him. He'd yell at me all the time. He'd tell me: 'You look ugly' or 'You look fat'.

"Sometimes he'd 'play' with me and say: 'Hello, Miss Piggy', 'Hello, Miss Housekeeping'."

Mr Trump, she says, then invited reporters to watch her during a work-out session. The clip includes an interview he gave to the media.

"She weighed 118 pounds or 117 pounds (53kg) and she went up to 160 or 170 (72kg to 77kg)," he says. "So this is somebody who likes to eat."

Image copyright AP
Image caption Alicia Machado says she was later diagnosed with eating disorders

Alicia Machado says: "It was very humiliating. I felt really bad, like a lab rat.

"It had turned into a circus, the joke of 'The Fat Miss Universe'."

She says the episode caused her "a lot of pain" and that afterwards she fell "sick with eating disorders".

"I wouldn't eat, and would still see myself as fat, because a powerful man said so."

Image copyright Twitter - @machadooficial

In an interview to the Washington Post in 1997, she said: "When I was preparing for Miss Universe, it was an obsession for me to not gain weight.

"By the time I won, I was actually recovering. But the year leading to it, I didn't eat at all. And whatever I ate, I threw up. I weighed 116 pounds (52kg) when I won. I was skeletal."

She has now become an American citizen and has vowed to vote for Mrs Clinton.

What does Trump say?

In an interview to Fox News on Tuesday, Mr Trump appeared to defend his remarks.

He said Ms Machado was "the worst (Miss Universe) we ever had. The worst. The absolute worst. She was impossible.

"She was the winner, and she gained a massive amount of weight, and it was a real problem... not only that, her attitude.

"And Hillary went back into the years and... found the girl and talked about her like she was Mother Teresa, and it wasn't quite that way, but that's OK. Hillary has to do what she has to do."