Trump: Miss USA deserves second chance

Published: Dec. 19, 2006 at 4:19 PM EST|Updated: Dec. 26, 2006 at 2:16 PM EST
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(NEW YORK) -- Miss USA Tara Conner, who had come under criticism amid rumors she had been frequenting bars while underage, will be allowed to keep her title, Donald Trump announced Tuesday.

"I've always been a believer in second chances," Trump, who owns the Miss Universe Organization with NBC, said with Conner at his side.

Trump said he and Conner had met earlier Tuesday morning.

"She left a small town in Kentucky and she was telling me that she got caught up in the whirlwind of New York," Trump said. "It's a story that has happened many times before to many women and many men who came to the Big Apple. They wanted their slice of the Big Apple and they found out it wasn't so easy."

Conner won the title in April and has been living in New York. Recent media accounts of heavy drinking brought a storm of criticism, since she was underage at the time. She turned 21 on Monday.

In a tear-choked voice, Conner said, "In no way did I think it would be possible for a second chance to be given to me."

Turning to Trump, she said, "You'll never know what this means to me, and I swear I will not let you down."

Trump said Conner would be entering rehab.

If she had been dethroned, her title would have been taken over by first runner-up Miss California Tamiko Nash.

Conner has been competing in pageants since age 4. After winning the Miss USA title in April, she finished fourth in the Miss Universe pageant in July.

In 2002, Miss Russia Oxana Fedorova won the Miss Universe pageant but was stripped of her title after violating her contract. Trump said Fedorova didn't show up for some photo shoots and charity events. It was the first time a titleholder had been ousted in the contest's more than 50-year history. Fedorova denied she was fired and said she gave up the title voluntarily.

(Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

Viewer Reactions:

Helen L. - New Albany
Absolutely not! Shame on Donald Trump. Morals in this country are at an all time low, how dare he lower the bar even further. Kentuckians may be pleased with this decision but it certainly doesn't speak well for KY around the nation. This gal committed an illegal act (using cocaine) and should not be representing any state. What a terrible message to send to our young people.

T. Meyers - Seymour
When these young women take on this responsibility they know before hand that they are setting an example for young girls everywhere and that they will be viewed under a microscope. Their behavior, attitude and appearance is supposedly what got them the position and they should remember this at all times. I know many people that age are trying to get into bars and experience the bar scene, but she must remember she isn't viewed as just anyone and should take responsibility for her actions and whatever the consequences may be.

A. Lafferty - Scottsburg
She should lose her crown!! Too many girls work so hard to try and get it and it's a slap in their faces when she gets to keep it for her poor judgement. So remove it from her and give it to some one who deserves it.

D. Hedges - Eminence
I do not agree with Mr. Trump's decision at all. She violated the principals of the Miss U.S.A. pageant and all beauty pageants by acting the way she has. Not only was she representing the State of Kentucky but the Miss U.S.A. Pageant in general. These girls should have standards to uphold and Ms. Conners acted very inappropriately. What kind of role model is this giving to younger girls who want to aspire to be beauty pageant contestants. I believe it is a disgrace to every beauty pageant winner from the past and the future that Ms. Conner be allowed to keep her title.

Kentucky girl - Louisville
I agree with Trump, everyone does deserve a second chance. I can understand that she is young and coming from a small town into a big city is a huge change in lifestyle for her. She got up with the parting in the big city. I think she realized what that type of lifestyle will get you and that it's not worth it.

B. McGlone - Radcliff
Who cares!

CJ - Louisville
Tara knew what was expected of her as reigning Miss USA, yet she chose to be irresponsible. I believe in second chances in certain cases, not this one. For her to remain as Miss USA and also be in rehab at the same time? What's wrong with that picture? Some role model indeed. Not.

P.Young - Louisville
She needs to have her role as Miss USA rovoked. Rules are there for a reason. It shows that priorities are messed up when a crown can be revoked for missing photo shoots, but criminal offenses  as cocaine use and underage drinking is not considered serious enough for that. It proves our society is losing it's regard for what it right and wrong and takes tolerance to a fault.

Jeri - Louisville
I do agree with Donald Trump's decision because everyone deserves a second chance. While she did do something wrong, she has admitted it and is seeking help for that problem. Now, having ticked Helen L and a lot of others off, I do say that if she is ever caught doing anything illegal or anything that does not show her to be the outstanding young woman she is supposed to be then I say she is out of there, no excuses, no more chances. One break is all you get.

T.Winkler - La Grange
She should keep the crown. She worked hard for it. Those things that she did most likely came from the stress and pressure that she was under. Everyone deserves a second chance.

Juan - Bedford
I'm sorry Helen L, you've never deserved a second chance? Have you been perfect since you were little?

Scotty T. - Scottsburg
This young woman made some very bad choices. But, our current culture doesn't allow young people to always have to take responsibility for their bad choices. So, the model becomes, "It's OK to make bad choices." Is that really a message we want to send to our kids and to the world?

S. McDoughty - Los Angeles
Decision reflects current corporate ethics: keep her if she has a face/body. Even if she does not fulfill her job responsibilities, she is still accessible eye candy. Just as corrupt as one would expect. As for me personally, I am long tired of the extremes of immature, selfish, narcissistic lifestyles and behaviors of the current young adults in celebre. They are all a waste. I have long abandoned movies and TV due to the warped nature of these people who live in extreme excess when they really have no talent and no integrity as human beings. Let's start celebrating people who make positive differences in our world, like Mr. Chris Gardner. As for Ms. Conor, she will always have a place in the soft porn world, where she belongs, because she has no ability to benefit from the privileges and responsibilities of being crowned Miss USA. She is another disgrace to all people whom she is supposed to represent in the USA.

Debbie M. - Floyds Knobs
As a mother of a 22 year old who trys to convey the importance of respectable behavior in public am very dissappointed in Donald Trump's decision. Ms. Conner represents not only the Miss America  Pagent, she is looked up to by her peers and when they see her get away with such behavior what kind of message is that sending? Not only did she display behavior unbecoming to her crown, she broke the law. I think her punishment should be more fitting for her lack of good judgment.

D. Hansen - East Lansing, MI
I went to a foreign country at age 18 for one year on intensive work-study immersion program. Alcohol was freely available in vending machines on many streets, and dance clubs and city life was readily accessible. I did not even have temptations to become drunk or high, because I was fully engaged and excited about learning in a new culture and environment, to do all I could to make a difference and be involved for the year I was given. I felt strongly that this opportunity was a privilege and a responsibility, and I had my own high expectations for my behaviors and accomplishments as well as those of my professors and our foreign sponsors and hosts. I know who I am as a person, and as Miss USA I would not have squandered so much time, and I surely would not have failed to show up for required job duties. She should be fired. Her behavior should not tolerated in any way. I am sick of these ridiculous young females giving such a poor example. She is beautiful, so she will be able to find some man to take care of her, but not all women are so fortunate. She needs to lose her Miss USA opportunities and get real. Anything related to her and Miss USA is forever tarnished for me.

P. Clarkson - New York, NY
No second chances for criminal offenses when in such a highly visible position of honor, responsibility, and privilege. She is obviously not mature enough to handle the job. The honor should be given to honorable person with maturity, selflessness, and capacity to exemplify the values and role of the title. All she really has to do is show up for some pictures and meetings. If she has worked her whole life for this, why would she act out like? She clearly does not understand the broader role beyond simply winning a competition. I am offended that she is held to represent the USA. I now have no respect for the pageant or the title. Trump's actions on this matter sends the wrong messages and is warped.

Angela S. - Louisville
Everyone deserves a second chance... look where Trump is! I would like to see the "perfect past" of all those that are passing judgement on a young persons bad choice of action. Get over yourselves and get a life.

Misty - Louisville
I am disappointed that Tara Connor is able to keep her title. Miss USA is suppose to represent the young women of America. She certainly does not represent me. She is not a role model to our youth. We need to show our children that our actions have consequences. She was given a second change the day after her first offense. She has broken the law repeatedly; she should enter rehab and she should publicly apologize.

C. Federick - White Plains, NY
Trump's POOR decision rationalizes tolerance of poor decisions of irresponsible, immature young people. Bad example. This drama exemplifies the gap between rich and poor "cultures" and mindsets and its effect in (and on) the legal system. Currently, universities are struggling with immaturity of "kids" with no sense of life responsibility or personal vision. Thanks, Trump, for acting like the same irresponsible parents that produce these intolerable kids who waste resources which are better utilized by persons capable of benefitting and utilizing them. Bring discipline and responsibility back, please.

JP - Louisville
Never had a doubt she would keep the title. After all, look who was making the decision. Come on people, did ya think he would let her walk out? Puullleeeezz. Get a clue!!

Jeff K. - Honolulu
Professional beauty pageant contestants have no sense of reality. A life of stage-mothering and self-centered emphasis on winning competitions of "beauty" is hardly a preparation for real life, and certainly NOT for the duties and role of a Miss USA. Give the opportunity to the next runner up according to the RULES, or do the rules not matter any more? I will not personally purchase any magazines with Ms. Conor featured, and will send back any issue of my current subscriptions with her in it.

Krystal M. - Louisville
I completely and whole heartedly agree with Mr. Trump's decision! Like in the other agreements above, 'everyone deserves a second chance'. Why be so critical over her actions when there's people in Hollywood and on the 'Big Screen' that are doing the same things that she has OPENLY admitted to? Take Lindsay Lohan...a 20-year old....a celebrity...for months all you hear about is how drunk she got at a club the night before, all of the wrecks she's been in that were her fault...and yet for some strange reason parents still let their children listen to her music and watch her movies. Is that what we're trying to say here: That it's okay to do those kinds of things when your a movie star or musician, but not when you where a crown? I think that it is just absurd that the majority of people that have responded to this question would NOT have given her a second chance...I mean COME ON! She's busted her butt literally all of her life to get to where she is now! I'm sure if all who were against Trump's decision were in Tara's position, they would want to have the same decision bestowed upon them, than to see it all just vanish in the blink of an eye! To top it all off, why is that only now everyone cares what she is doing in her personal life? You never hear on the news about the charity work and what the nots that are good things she has done!! Why make a big deal out of something that really isn't any of OUR business? So she fell face forward into the party scene in NEW YORK CITY (may i remind you), and yet she's been able to pick herself back up and MOVE ON and realize that that is not the way she wanted her life to go...give her a break!

J. Williams - Louisville
Who cares what she does? Not me if your looking for a person to set a example look at someone in your own community. Leave the silly pageant and its people alone and get on with your lives.

David W. - Louisville
What a disgrace to both the Commonwealth and to the USA. Since when did Mr. Trump gain the right to set moral standards for who represents our great nation? Where are Miss USA's morals in not resigning? I say dethrone them both and put someone with moral fiber in charge of this important and valued American tradition. What a sad day indeed.

Reggie M. - Russell Springs
What the sam hill!!! Can you blame the girl. There is no place around here that you can drink, we are a dry county. I say you go girl!! Party on! If the law makers in Russell county weren't naive, this would had never happened. Liberty and Justice for all.

A. Wynn - Louisville
Too sad that there are so many self rightous people on here that have never done any wrong. I am glad that I have been given a few second chances in my life and I wouldn't trade places with the perfect people of this world because being imperfect has made me a better person. Good for you Donald and good luck Tara.

Brandi - Louisville
I agree but I dont agree. She did break the law and rehab is not a means of punishment. She is young and curious and in a huge city with new opportunity. That is not an excuse to give into that life because she is old enough to know right from wrong. What message is that not only sending to her but to everyone else? That all you will get a slap on the wrist?

Angton, E - Jeffersontown
I do not agree with Mr. Trump, I believe Ms. Conner knew she was not upholding her end of the contract, she just did not get caught up in the hype of N.Y. This young woman has competed in pageants all her life, she should be stripped of the Miss U S A crown and Miss Ky Crown. Her behavior was well out of the behaviour for pageant contestants. Mr Trumps has tarnished the title of Miss USA for ever.

C. Barr - Mt. Washington
I couldn't agree more with the fact that morals in this country are at an all time low & feel also that Trump just lowered the bar even further. It should not matter if it is a pageant, someone running for office high school class president. What he is doing is sending the message that it is okay to not take full responsibility for your actions. That is a huge problem with society today and has been for years.

Steve - Milton
We don't know what she is guilty of. All we have are reports from internet sites that don't have the best reputation for telling the truth. We a judging this girl on what we hear and not what we know. Everyone is saying how our morals are going downhill when they are basing their opinion on nothing but heresay. Trump said not all of the rumors were true. Don't believe everything you read on the internet.

Lisa - Leitchfield
I think that everyone is missing it totally. Everyone does deserve second chances in life. However as a mother, I have always taught my kids that there are consequences for your choices/actions. She made some bad choices, we all have. The best life lessions are the ones learned the hard way. How much will she learn as a young adult just starting life if there are no consequences for not only a bad choice but an illegal one?

Ryan V. - Louisville
She failed to report to "work" and her behavior has violated the terms of her contract. Since it is a competition based on the contestants' ability to perform per the contract, the next in line should be given the job. That's how it works, and she knows it, and so do the other contestants. Movie stars and musicians are not all heavy drinkers or poor examples of human beings. The media reports abuses as a scandal, not something to be admired. It is true that overexposure has many effects, one of which is some people lower expectations or become apathetic to the issues, as some people on this forum have shown how by giving excuses and tolerating her behavior as somehow a "normal" rite of passage for celebrities. Celebrities/musicians are not accountable to carrying a title which represents "USA". If they want to behave like useless trash, it's about them and between them and their families and employers. She needs to move on, while a more mature and responsible can take on the job. Being Miss USA is about more than putting on pretty clothes and make-up. Get real!

J. Brockman - Bardstown
If you are planning to compete and win at Beauty Pageants, then you should read the fine print regarding what constitutes grounds for dismissal, de-throning, etc. (And also maybe a little knowledge regarding what illegal substances are would be helpful.) Yes, everyone DOES deserve a second chance, however its not like she had no idea what is expected of her and her behavior / life-style. I'm sure the rules are very clear on this AND I'll bet her parents are mortified.

Amy - Louisville
I believe she should be given a second chance, but I think she should have to work for it. I think that rehab is a good start, and maybe adding some PSA's and community service (talking to high schoolers about alcohol dangers) would help justify her staying in the crown.

Also, for those mentioning the cocaine use, is this a proven fact, or is it just a rumor? There's a big difference between drinking and doing cocaine.. I'd prefer to know for sure before judging her on that one.

Joann - Frankfort, Ky.
I do not think Donald Trump made a good choice, Conner knew the rules when she ran. If she is that wild and inconciderate of the other girls running, she should never have tryed out, she should stay out of the running unntil she could control herself.

Gobe - Jeffersonville, Ind.
It's a joke. Vanessa Williams poses nude in a magazine, but Tara is involved with drugs, sex and a bad influence on a minor... Isn't she supposed to be a role model? Why is she any different?

Caitlin - New Albany
Comments: Young people DO NOT have it hard. Their difficulties lie in lack of internal strength and integrity. The law and the personal choices are clear. There is no excuse, she should lose her crown. If Trump wants to continue to help her, it should be on a personal basis, not on official pageant/crown time. Not everyone who goes to NYC has the time, money, and access that she had to get into those clubs and act like she did. It was her personal choice. If she is so out of control, then she has no business being a role model.

Leigh - City: Lyndon
Everyone drinks! It's not like she went out and showed the whole world her "LADY PARTS" like certain tramp celebrities did. People need to relax and realize that Ms. Conner is still young and did something that most underage people do at some point - drink. I think EVERYONE at some point has participated in underage drinking. People are such hipocrites!

Name: Hawkins - Louisville
She knew going in what the rules are. I think rules are for a reason and if they are going bend the rules don't make them in the first place. That only teaches other that you can break the rules and get by with it.  That's what wrong with the world. People get by with the choices they make with just a slap on the hand.  People that work hard for everything they have knows right from wrong. Her crown should be taken and she should go back to Russell Springs.

Jessica, Russell County
As a resident of Russell County and a former schoolmate of Tara Conner, I am disgusted at the fact she did not lose her crown. For her to blame her immoral actions on her small town move to New York is ridiculous.

Someone may want to question why she was suspended twice during high school; once her junior year for snorting cocaine off the schools toilet seat, and another time the same year for drinking during school.

They may also want to ask about the time she became so intoxicated at the Lake Cumberland State Dock, stripped all of her clothes for a large group of onlookers during the 2003 Poker Run.

For all of those that truly know Tara, we know what a snobbish, unethical, and dishonest person she really is. I am tired of seeing a person responsible for all of the actions mentioned above get everything she ever wanted.

As a former acquaintance of Miss Conner, I honestly find it as merely proving her fraudulence and ask for a bit of inquiry into her past!

Joe Payton Jr.
Yes. if she ask the lord for forgiveness or talk to him. who are we to judge: maybe she will learn fron this.

Jim - Mt. Washington
Today's decision by Mr. Trump, gained a lot of respect with me.

He is not the ruthlees S.O.B. that reality shows and the news media makes him out to be. We all make mistakes in our lives, just as Tara did.

Everybody deserves a second chance.

Brooke - Louisville
Although I believe in second chances, I don't think this is a good message for young girls. It just goes to show that beauty pageants are not really about the whole picture or the type of person or role model the contestants are. Their is a reason they aren't called Role Model Pageants.

Sharon Booker - Louisville
I disagree with Donald Trump. You have people every day getting long jail/prison terms for first time possession and/or usage of cocaine.

If Vanessa Williams can be stripped for obscene photos, then Tara should be stripped for using an illegal substance. I do agree that she should go to rehab, but I don't agree that she should keep her crown and the amenities that come with it.

C.H. - Louisville
I don't agree with Trump.I am sure she knew the rules of the pageants,therefore she should be released from her position of being Miss America. Just like Anything else when you do something wrong on your job you have to pay the consequences. RULES ARE RULES.

Sarah B. - Louisville
I agree with Mr. Trump. This whole thing is a huge learning experience for her and she deserves a second chance. Don't think that this sets a negative tone with young women. She can be a role model to so many young women who have problems and need to get help or stop what they are doing. She's a much better role model than many celebrities. We all just need to remember that it was the Miss Universe organization's decision and no matter what anyone says will change it. She knows that she made mistakes and that now she has a second chance to make everything right. GO TARA!!!!!

Rick - Louisville
I agree with Mr. Trump...big city bright throw a 20 year old in the limelight and expect her to be perfect in every way.  She is a child from a broken family who found a way out of a small, rural upbringing to the real "city that never sleeps."  I've been to NYC and it can be overwhelming.

Linda - Louisville
I wish everyone who has made any mistake's could have a second chance. People we all have closets full of MISTAKES. And some like Mr.

Trump could buy anything, anyone with all his money. We do not know what went on behind closed doors. WE were not there so how can we judge. Our Government is crooked we all know that. You see it everyday on TV. Our Govenor got a second chance. So get off your soap boxes, and be glad God forgive's us. If not we all would be hell bound. I Say give Tara a second chance. She at least deserves that.

But once chance only.

Bryan Dover - Louisville
No.  Period. She is representing the nation, not alcoholics anonymous.

Mike - Louisville
I think everyone deserves a second change, if we removed all elected officials that represent the public when they make slight or major mistakes; we would not have a congress and certain other offices would be vacant. I don't understand why some people wanted her replaced, unless they are jealous or something.

Shawn Waltenburg - Louisville
No! I think he should of took her crown away for acting the way she did. She made everyone in Kentucky look horrible. She should realize she needs to act a certain way to be lucky enough to be able to be in the miss U.S.A pageant. Alot of people aren't lucky enough or blessed enough to get that chance! She needs to appreciate how important of an event this is. She acted foolish and rediculous. And had drugs in her system. What example does this set for other contestants? She's FIRED!!!!

Jimmy Scott - Burkesville, Ky.
Everbody forgave the Clintons and the President should be held to a higher standard than a 20 year old miss USA.

Hope W. - Louisville
Yes I do believe in second chances! But sometimes in life we must pay a hard price for our actions! But once again I see outer beauty gives a person more chances and choices, that a plain Jane or an ugly Betty would not get!!! And I also think that Ms Tara Conner may become the next Mrs Donald Trump!

Melissa - Atlanta
This is a disgrace for her to be able to keep her crown. This is such a double standard. Do I dare mention Vanessa Williams? DO I dare mention the "race card"? WHat type of standards does the pageantry hold itself to?

Amber D - Clarksville, Ind.
I think that she should be given a chance, and that she should use it to turn attention to under age drinking, drug use, and other things that have been problems for young adults in this country. Make part of her duties making others realize that these types of problems are everywhere and that they need to be addressed.

Wren Riley - Shepherdsville, Ky.
Tara Conner does not deserve to be awarded Miss USA any longer.

Miss Conner has broken strict rules that are set for her title. I have a six year old daughter that overheard different news programs discussing Miss Conner's actions and in her eyes she is confused why a princess would drink beer... I feel that if someone in her position has to be sent to rehab programs then it is a big enough issue that her title needs to be pulled. There are former Miss USA's that have had their title taken away for less things. I feel that Donald Trump and the Miss USA foundation needs to re-think this issue. I also belive that this competition will be taken less serious and many supporters will loose interest. Furthermore as a Kentucky native I feel that Miss Conner has proved to be an embarrasement to our state and we may be misrepresented.

Steph - Campbellsville, Ky.
Mr. Trumph was right when he stated everyone deserves a second chance. However,in Tara's position,she was wrong and she new what she was doing before she done it! This is what is wrong with this world today!

People like Tara should set examples for our children and by remaining Miss USA what has this shown our children and world?(That it is okay to act the way she has and do the things she's done because, in her position she'll not be punished Mr Trumph's money will buy her out!)She needs to be fired!!! If it were you and/or myself we would not be given a second chance!

Juanita Totten - Louisville
I disagree with Trump's decision. Tara knew what the rules were and she broke them. I think giving her a second chance is a reflection of the current low morals of our country. Miss USA should be a role model, and this is sending the wrong message to our Youth, who look up to her.

Jeff Longest - Paoli, Indiana
I think all people should have a second chance. I was fired from my job along with 5 other men. I belive we should have got another chance, because other men done the same or worse where I worked. They still have their jobs. They don't no what it's like to loose a job you love.

Helen Clark - Louisville
I do not agree with donald trump's decision -he is wrong to give tara a second chance-she knew what she was doing was wrong-but, did it anyway-no way donald trump are you right in your decision-she is a bad example for our young people!!!!!!

Sue Allen - Guston, Ky.
I'm glad he gave her a second chance , but put a short leash on it. How many times has a murder gotten out of jail and been given another chance. She didn't hurt anyone but her self. she can be a spokes person against Drugs & alcohol.

Mike Kunzler - Louisville
I have always heard Kentucky was famous for Fine Bourbon Fast Horses WILD WOMEN! What's the big deal?

C.S. - Campbellsville, Ky.
After reading these comments posted, some of these are obsured and some of these comments sound as if they are coming from a younger group(not all). When there is drugs involved, everyone should be punished however, those in clicks whether it's school/place of employment/political,and those who have money to talk are the only ones that seem to get a second chance.

It's not just Miss USA that should be removed. Look at the so called peers/role models in sports/entertainment!!!None of them deserves to remain! But yet, we still seem to support them,we buy their products and etc. Has anyone in your family done drugs and gotton a second chance? If so, consider yourself lucky because you do not get a second chance in this small town esp. if you have nothing to begin with.

Yes, everyone deserves a second chance but it sounds as if Tara has had too many chances before.

Tom - Frankfort, Ky.
Who really cares one way or the other when there are more pressing needs in the world?

SA Gold - Louisville
Like a good juror, do not pass judgement unless you are certain you know all the facts.

Timothy Welman - Corydon
Yes, Just because Tara has made some bad decisions that does not make her a bad person or undeserving of a second chance.

Debbie Boone - Bardstown
No I don't believe they should have given her a second chance.

She knew quite well when she was crowned what all that the title represented and that did not include the behavior that she showed. I thought she wanted to be a roll model for all young girls. Imagine that!

They should have given Vanessa Williams crown back to her. What she did happened long before she was Miss America not during. Fair is fair.