The Miss USA pageant was won on merit, not by default due to biased judging, the pageant's head and this year's winner, Donald Trump and Kristen Dalton respectively, told Fox News in a joint appearance Thursday.
The pair fielded questions regarding whispers that Dalton's victory was only because her runner-up, Miss California Carrie Prejean, put off openly gay judge Perez Hilton with her anti-gay marriage sentiments.
Trump said he though Dalton, Miss North Carolina, would have won anyway, because of her overall performance.
Both Trump and Dalton said that the question levied to Dalton, on whether or not taxpayer money should be used to bail out struggling companies, was equally controversial and vexing (Dalton said no, because that the money should be funneled toward education and health care).
"She answered the question brilliantly," Trump said, "and she became Miss USA."
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Both spoke highly of Prejean. Dalton said her answer has left her "in a winning situation" (a talk show on Fox News, perhaps?), while Trump said she should be proud of herself for sticking to her core beliefs.
The business magnate, reminiscent of a modern-day P.T. Barnum, reminded Fox News that the furor has elevated the profile of the pageant and both of its finalists.
"Certainly," he said, "it's made everyone hotter."