Donald Trump Defends Racy Miss USA Photos

by | May 11, 2010 at 2:41 PM | TV News

Miss USA Pageant Contestants (Photo: www.missusa.com)

Miss USA Pageant Contestants (Photo: www.missusa.com)

From declarations for world peace to fishnets and low lighting, this year’s Miss USA pageant photos show the 51 contestants in stages of sexy undress in the bedroom. The images, shot by fashion photographer Fadil Berisha, have some folks blushing and clucking over the irony that they come one year after Miss California Carrie Prejean lost her crown in part because topless photos of her surfaced.

But Donald Trump, owner of the Miss Universe organization, is fine with the black and white lingerie shots.

“The Miss USA Pageant and the Miss Universe Pageant just got renewed for three years by NBC, the ratings have been terrific,” Trump told ‘The Insider.’ “We are in a different age. They are a little bit sexy but I’ll tell you what — everybody’s watching so I have no problems with it.”

Tara Conner, Miss USA 2006 and a current pageant judge, told CBS News she agrees. “It’s really not pushing the envelope,” Conner said. ” … Basically, a swimsuit is lingerie, just different material. So, I really don’t know why everyone has their panties in a wad, because it’s the same concept. You’re seeing the same amount of skin, but all of the goods are covered, so there’s really no issue.”

In past years the contestants have posed in bathing suits or ball gowns, but this year the “glam” photos were designed with the theme “Waking up in Vegas,” and depict the ladies, many of whom are aspiring models or actresses, in sultry, come-hither poses, complete with lots of (partially covered) cleavage.

Pageant president Paula Shugart acknowledged to the ‘Today Show‘s Matt Lauer that to some degree the photos were “marketing,” but said they kept in line with the competition’s image. “But we’ve always been the cutting-edge pageant. We are owned by Donald Trump,” she said.

Trump has owned Miss USA since 2002 and in part attributed its success to stunts such as the photos.

“The bathing suits got smaller and the heels got higher,” Trump said on Ryan Seacrest’s KIIS radio show Monday morning. “I think they’ve gone maybe a little over the top this year. These pictures are pretty wild,” Trump said. “But the girls are incredible.”

The pageant will be held Sunday at the Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino in Las Vegas and broadcast at 7 p.m. on NBC.

What do you think? Do the photos go too far? Do they make you want to watch the pageant? Could anything make you want to watch the pageant?