Donald Trump's Miss Universe Organization, which operates the Miss USA and Miss Teen USA pageants, draws viewers with sexy beauty queens in teeny bikinis. But titleholders are publicly chastised by Trump himself and sometimes lose their crowns altogether if they fail to reach "the highest ethical and moral standards" outlined in their contracts by posing nude. So why didn't officials care that one of their most important employees, a highly successful former state director, publicly donned assless chaps to represent a BDSM dungeon in the Mr. Los Angeles Leather pageant? Because the men who run the Miss USA pageants aren't held to the same narrow-minded standards as the young women who compete in them — and MUO President Paula M. Shugart told us those standards wouldn't be changing anytime soon.
Last month, Jezebel took a close look at the state-level pageants run by the production companies contracted by the Miss Universe Organization as part of an investigation into the shady underbelly of the Miss USA pageant system. The largest and most successful state-level pageant is Miss California USA, which is run by K2 Productions. K2 Productions oversees both the California pageant and, through a subsidiary company, recruits thousands of potential Miss USAs looking to compete for the crown. Our reporting revealed that some of the men involved with K2 Productions and Miss California USA — and, in turn, MUO — are scam artists who abuse their power, securing both money and alleged sexual favors from would-be contestants.