- John Salangsang/AP
Former Miss Universe Alicia Machado said Tuesday that Donald Trump treated her “like garbage” and that she was trying to forget her experience with him.
Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton used Machado’s story during Monday night’s presidential debate to attack Trump on his record with women.
“One of the worst things he said was about a woman in a beauty contest,” Clinton said. “He loves beauty contests, supporting them and hanging around them. And he called this woman ‘Miss Piggy.’ Then he called her ‘Miss Housekeeping,’ because she was Latina.”
Trump interjected, repeating: “Where did you find this? Where did you find this?”
In an interview earlier this year with The New York Times, Machado described how Trump – then an executive producer for the Miss Universe pageant – accompanied her to a gym and pressured her to exercise in front of a group of reporters after she won the 1996 Miss Universe title, saying, “This is somebody who likes to eat.” She was 18 at the time.
“I said, ‘I don’t want to do this, Mr. Trump,'” Machado told The Times. “He said, ‘I don’t care.'”
Speaking Tuesday on a conference call organized by the Clinton campaign, Machado, now 39 – who said she suffered from anorexia, bulimia, and psychological trauma as a result of the episode – said she was not surprised Trump didn’t remember her.
“He doesn’t remember me. He doesn’t remember many things he did to me or said to me,” said Machado, who is originally from Venezuela. “He doesn’t remember an 18-year-old girl that he insulted, mistreated, on thousands of occasions. But I remember.”
“He always treated me like garbage,” Machado added. “And his face last night made it clear to me he was shocked this ‘garbage’ had suddenly reappeared in his life.'”
- REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Trump on Tuesday morning defended his past comments about Machado, telling Fox News that she had “gained a massive amount of weight and it was a real problem” for the pageant.
Machado said Tuesday that the episode scarred her and damaged her reputation. “Donald Trump is a very powerful man,” she said, noting how rumors about her attitude and weight followed her long after she won the pageant.
“I’ve been trying to forget the entire experience – the abuse, those moments with him, because Miss Universe was the most amazing experience for me,” Machado said. “But this whole election season has been like a bad dream.”
Still, Machado said her experience as a teenager motivated her to pursue activism in the Latino community and her desire to be a role model for young girls. It has also made her all the more determined to see Clinton elected, she said.
“I’m not Miss Universe anymore. I’m a working woman, I’m a mother, I have a family and career,” Machado said. “I believe in Hillary’s experience. She’s strong. She’s smart. And she has to have a lot of patience to deal with such a crude, vulgar man.”