The Miss Universe Guyana pageant sounded like a big event….on paper. The event— which would crown the beauty who would represent Guyana in the Miss Universe pageant — was held last month at York College in Queens. But a number of contestants say they never received perks they were promised.
Sharisse Victor, who wound up being the runner-up, told us, “Our pageant fees were $2,500. We were promised hotel, food, accommodation, travel, gowns if we did not have gowns. We were supposed to be reimbursed if we brought our own gowns, which is what I did. And we received the bare minimum of all that really.”
Oriane Welch wonders where the contestants’ $2,500 entry fees went. She says the only meal they got in the week leading up to the pageant was lunch.
“We received (lunch) four days of the whole pageant week. And that food was sponsored so it was free. We were promised make-up artists. The makeup artist said they were volunteers, so, the money didn’t go there. We were promised a sashing ceremony that never happened.”
But the biggest beef is that the contract they were given states, “I represent and warrant that I have never been a contestant or delegate in a previous Miss Universe pageant. I am not the current title holder or first runner-up in any other national pageant or competition.”
And the eventual winner was Rafieyah Husain, who was last year’s runner-up.
“It’s so unfair! Before we even got the contract we wanted to know how she could even be in the pageant again when you almost won,” said contestant Altea Welch.
We wanted to get some answers for the ladies. So we went to the Brooklyn home of the pageant director and a beauty queen herself, Jyoti Hardat. She wasn’t there. Her mother was. But instead of answers I got the door slammed in my face.
Miss Universe sent us a written statement: “Contestants who do not win a national title in their country are allowed to participate in consecutive and future years. Additionally, The Miss Universe Organization says it confirmed the results with judges and an independent auditor who tabulated and verified the scores during the competition.”
OK. But some of the contestants still have questions. It doesn’t look like this dispute is over.