Donald Trump, head of the Miss Universe Organisation, has vowed a lawsuit against beauty Sheena Monnin after she declared the recent Miss USA contest was rigged.
The spat over the contest, in which women parade before judges in long gowns and bikinis, began when Monnin, the raven-haired Miss Pennsylvania, announced on Facebook that she had discovered the top five were chosen "before the show ever started".
"I can no longer be affiliated in any way with an organisation I consider to be fraudulent, lacking in morals, inconsistent, and in many ways trashy," she wrote on Facebook, the New York Daily News reported.
Her posts on the subject were later removed, but dozens of supporters left messages congratulating Monnin on her stand.
Trump insisted the judges are rigourously independent and lashed out at what he called a sore loser, promising Monnin would see a lawsuit before any tiara.
"My impressions were she didn't have a chance of being in the top 15, not even close," he told TMZ celebrity news in a telephone interview on Wednesday. "All this is, is a girl who went there, lost and she's angry at the pageant system."
"She said some very strong things. When she uses the word fraud, that's pretty strong, so we're going to be suing her on that basis," Trump said.
The Miss Universe Organisation said in a statement that Monnin's real motivation was anger at the decision to allow transgender women into the contest.
Sunday's winner of the Miss USA competition was Oliva Culpo, from Rhode Island, who will now represent the United States on the Miss Universe stage.
In an interview with WPRO radio in her home state, she described Monnin's resignation over alleged fraud as "iffy", also saying that her former rival had originally stormed out over the transgender controversy.
"Now that she believes it is a fixed pageant. I don't know, it's a little iffy to me," she said.