Beauty and the beast: A pageant's honor is vindicated at great cost

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Sheena Monnin, a former Miss Pennsylvania from Cranberry, might not win any prizes for being Miss Congeniality. But Donald Trump might win a prize for most grotesque ego or haircut from outer space if pageants offered such titles.

That both of them were at loggerheads in a legal dispute concerning slanderous comments the beauty queen made about Mr. Trump's Miss Universe Organization leaves the casual bystander with no one to root for.

Ms. Monnin, 27, unwisely said the Miss USA Pageant, in which she did not make the final 16 in Las Vegas in June, was fixed. When she later resigned her Miss Pennsylvania title, she cited her objection to allowing transgendered people to participate in the program. Her poor judgment and lack of tolerance don't make her a sympathetic figure, but a sore loser.

Mr. Trump's problem is that he is always a sore winner -- so much money, so little sense. Mr. Trump was a winner again when the dispute went to binding arbitration. Ms. Monnin, who did not participate in the process, now finds herself owing the Miss Universe Organization $5 million in damages, assessed by a federal judge on the basis that the pageant had lost a sponsor for its 2013 event.

Retired U.S. Magistrate Judge Theodore H. Katz, the arbitrator in New York, wrote in a 17-page opinion that "there was virtually no possibility that the judging was rigged." Thank goodness that has been cleared up.

Despite the serious money at stake, the whole thing is silly. Sore losers regularly stream out of sporting contests that home teams have lost complaining about the refs, yet nobody thinks the officials have been gravely libeled and must be made whole only by paying them $5 million. If Donald Trump had an ounce of gallantry, he would settle for vindication and not money.



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