LOS ANGELES (CN) – The director of the Miss California USA pageant rigged the competition and took the crown away from its winner because he wanted a white woman to win, Christina Silva claims in Superior Court. Silva says she won the pageant on Nov. 25, 2007, and that three days later its director, Keith Lewis, told her, “There has been a mistake and you are not the winner.”
She says Lewis did it because he was afraid that “the ‘all American girls’ might not opt to compete in the following year.” Silva also sued the Miss Universe Organization.
“Mr. Lewis demonstrated preferential treatment toward some of the ‘more Anglo-looking’ contestants,” Silva says in her Superior Court complaint.
Silva claims, “On the day of the pageant, Nov. 25, 2007, an assistant to Mr. Keith Lewis advised another employee that Mr. Lewis was uncomfortable with the fact that Miss Silva spoke Spanish with certain vendors; he felt that it may detract from the caliber of the pageant and some of the ‘all American girls’ might not opt to compete in the following year.”
After she won, Silva says, “she noticed that Miss Beazley became very upset.” The complaint does not explicitly identify “Miss Beazley,” who Silva apparently believes was Lewis’ preferred candidate.
She claims that Lewis called her on Nov. 28, and went to her home, where he told her she was not the winner. She claims Lewis told her at that meeting “to immediately contact Ms. Beazley and inform her that she was the rightful winner of the title.” She says Lewis threatened her, saying, “‘I need you to do the right thing. … I would hate for a wrong decision to have a negative impact on your career.’ Of course Miss Silva took Mr. Lewis’ demand to be a threat.”
Silva says she “has learned that Mr. Lewis had been set on crowning a girl with an ‘all American face’ and that he could not have a third consecutive year with a minority winner.” In a footnote, the complaint states: “The last two winners were both African American, and as indicated subsequently, Mr. Lewis had expressed concerns that minority contestants and/or winners may be a detriment to having current Anglo contestants compete the following year.”
Silva demands her $1,500 entry fee returned, and $500,000 in damages for breach of contract, unfair competition, false advertising, fraudulent and negligent misrepresentation, fraudulent concealment, civil rights violations and emotional distress. She also sues K2 Productions.
She is represented by Wilfredo Trivino-Perez.