Caroline Michelle "Carrie" Prejean (pronounced /preɪˈʒɑːn/; born May 13, 1987) is an American model, author and former Miss California USA 2009, and Miss USA 2009 first runner-up. She gained nationwide attention over her answer to a question about same-sex marriage. Prejean was dethroned nationally on June 10, 2009, for continued breach of contract. Prejean called those claims false, and filed a libel suit in which she alleged that she had been discriminated against because of her religious views.
Pageant officials countersued and demanded Prejean to repay the money spent for her breast implants. The legal battle between Prejean and the pageant officials was later settled out of court on November 3, 2009 following the revelation of a sex tape involving Prejean.
Prejean has appeared as a model for Target, Saks Fifth Avenue, Bloomingdale's, and Nordstrom. She has also appeared in Bliss magazine, as a model for E!: Entertainment Television, at the 81st Academy Awards, and in an interactive model search competition for the NBC game show Deal or No Deal. Prejean also works as an ambassador for the San Diego Padres as a member of the Pad Squad from 2006 to present.
Prejean was born in San Diego, California to Francine Coppola and William Prejean. Her mother is Italian American while her father is of French descent. She was raised in an evangelical Christian household in Vista, California. Prejean's parents divorced in 1988. A custody battle went on for more than a decade.
Prejean graduated in 2005 from Vista High School. She is currently[when?] a senior at San Diego Christian College, an evangelical private school located in El Cajon, California, and attends The Rock Church, where she volunteers with their outreach ministries. Prejean also volunteers with Luv-em-Up Ministries in El Cajon, where she works with children with developmental disabilities. Prejean is studying to become a special education teacher.
In 2005, Prejean competed in the Miss California Teen USA pageant and placed first runner-up to Stephanie Brink. In 2007, she competed in the Miss California USA 2008 pageant and initially placed third runner-up; later a judging error was discovered and she was promoted to first runner-up.
Prejean returned the following year and won the Miss California USA 2009 title, succeeding Raquel Beezley as California's representative to the Miss USA pageant. Prejean competed at the nationally televised Miss USA 2009 pageant in Las Vegas, Nevada on April 19, 2009, and placed first runner-up. Prejean's answer to her final question during the pageant became the subject of controversy.
Miss USA 2009 controversy
Prejean attracted nationwide attention with her response to a question about same-sex marriage during the 2009 Miss USA pageant. Prejean was asked by pageant judge Perez Hilton whether she believed every U.S. state should legalize same-sex marriage. She responded,
|“||Well I think it's great that Americans are able to choose one way or the other. We live in a land where you can choose same-sex marriage or opposite marriage. And, you know what, in my country, in my family, I think that I believe that marriage should be between a man and a woman, no offense to anybody out there. But that’s how I was raised and I believe that it should be between a man and a woman. ||”|
The media attention intensified after Hilton posted a video blog on his website, where he called Prejean a "dumb bitch" and said her answer was the worst in pageant history. "She gave an awful, awful answer that alienated so many people." He also told ABC News that she lost the crown because of how she answered the question. adding that "There are various other ways she could have answered that question and still stayed true to herself without alienating millions of people." Prejean has also stated that she believes that her answer cost her the crown. Of that moment, Prejean has written,
|“||I was being dared — in front of the entire world — to give a candid answer to a serious question. I knew if I told the truth, I would lose all that I was competing for: the crown, the luxury apartment in New York City, the large salary — everything that went with the Miss USA title. I also knew, or suspected, that I was the frontrunner, and if I gritted my teeth and gave the politically correct answer, I could be Miss USA. ||”|
Donald Trump, who owns most of the Miss Universe Organization, defended Prejean's answer, saying that "Miss California has done a wonderful job" and that "It wasn't a bad answer, that was simply her belief." He then added that the question was "a bit unlucky" and that no matter which way she answered the question "she was going to get killed". Several elected officials, including Gavin Newsom, mayor of San Francisco and a prominent supporter of same-sex marriage, and political pundits criticized Hilton and defended Prejean for honestly stating her personal beliefs. The New York Times reports her beliefs are representive of mainstream U.S. opinion on the issue, stating "while a majority of Americans believe that gay couples should be able to enter into unions with some of the legal protections of marriage," only "a minority believe that gays and lesbians should be permitted to 'marry,' per se.".
On June 15, 2009, the Empowering Spirits Foundation, a national LGBT civil rights organization issued a press release asking for the LGBT community to "move forward and engage in respectful dialogue." A. Latham Staples, the foundation's executive director, was quoted as saying, "Demeaning Carrie Prejean or others by using terms such as bigot will not advance our cause of civil rights and social justice. The LGBT community must use this period of heightened attention on LGBT issues by engaging others in positive ways.” Staples went on to wish Prejean "much success in her future endeavors."
Post-Miss USA Pageant
Following the pageant, Prejean appeared in a television advertisement opposing same-sex marriage for the National Organization for Marriage, which had contacted her shortly after the pageant. She also hired a Christian public relations firm. In late April, Prejean presented an award at the Gospel Music Association's 2009 Dove Awards in Nashville, Tennessee. Prejean also spoke at Liberty University's final convocation of the year on April 29, 2009.
On May 1, Prejean stated on On the Record w/ Greta Van Susteren that she did not have an opinion on civil unions for same-sex couples, but that she supports certain rights of same-sex couples, such as hospital visitations. She has stated that she would be willing to meet with representatives from California's largest gay rights group "as long as it's not political".
Photograph controversy and crown retention
On May 4, 2009, a photograph of Prejean partially nude with her back turned to the camera appeared on a celebrity gossip blog, leading to the directors of the Miss California USA pageant investigating Prejean for potentially violating a contract clause against prospective pageant candidates having been photographed "nude or partially nude". Prejean stated on May 5 that she had posed for the shot as a seventeen-year-old and objected to its release, saying,
|“||I am a Christian, and I am a model. Models pose for pictures, including lingerie and swimwear photos. Recently, photos taken of me as a teenager have been released surreptitiously to a tabloid Web site that openly mocks me for my Christian faith. I am not perfect, and I will never claim to be.||”|
She has also stated that she was "naive, and young" at the time of the photography and regrets having made the decision. However, her assertion that she was seventeen at the time the photos were taken has been disputed. It has been written that her breasts in the photos appear surgically enlarged, and that she did not have the augmentation procedure done until she was over 18. It was also pointed out that more than one set of such photos exist.
National Organization for Marriage president Maggie Gallagher stated on May 5 that the release would not affect Prejean's role with her group. She commented that "On a personal note, as a former unwed mother, I want to say to Americans: you don't have to be a perfect person to have the right to stand up for marriage." Alicia Jacobs, a local reporter for KVBC in Las Vegas who served as a judge at the Miss USA pageant, has stated that the pictures "go beyond what the Miss California pageant says are appropriate," and do not befit Prejean's status.
Following the release of her semi-nude photos, the pageant administration announced it would discuss whether or not Prejean should retain the Miss California USA crown. On May 12, the Miss USA owner, Donald Trump, announced that Prejean would retain the crown. In his remarks he said that "We are in the 21st century. We have determined the pictures taken are fine" and that "in some cases the pictures were lovely." Concerning her opinion on same sex marriage, Trump stated: "It's the same answer that the President of the United States gave. She gave an honorable answer. She gave an answer from her heart."
Termination of contract and lawsuits
K2 Productions, which produces the Miss California USA pageant, terminated Prejean's contract on June 10, 2009, which was approved by Trump, citing "continued breach of contract issues". Prejean stated that K2 Productions wanted her to pose for Playboy and appear on the reality television show I'm a Celebrity... Get Me out of Here!. Keith Lewis, the executive director of K2 Productions, stated that Prejean had requested to be notified of all offers for appearances. In August, 2009, Prejean sued Miss California USA officials on a variety of civil grounds, including libel and the unauthorized release of private medical records. K2 Productions and pageant officials deny the charges and filed counterclaims seeking the profits from Prejean's forthcoming book, which it claims was written in violation of the Miss California USA contract, and the return of $5200 loaned to Prejean for breast implants. On November 3, 2009, Prejean and K2 announced a settlement with undisclosed terms, with both sides dropping their lawsuits. It has recently been reported that Prejean is considering legal action against the Miss California USA organization for breach of the confidentiality agreement that was part of the settlement. The source says Prejean believes that parties in Miss California USA leaked details of the settlement's negotiations to tmz.com. 
CNN subsequently reported that Prejean' settlement with Miss California USA officials was driven by the discovery of a sex tape featuring Prejean. Prejean appeared alone in the tape, which was described as "too racy" for posting on a celebrity gossip site. Prejean claimed that the video was created, when she was 17, for her then boyfriend. Media and legal commentators have noted that teens have been prosecuted as sex offenders for creating and distributing such under aged sex videos. However, reports from the same source that originally revealed the existence of the video state that it was created when Prejean was 20 and that there were other materials produced by her in the same period that were similarly erotic in nature. It was also reported that Prejean asked the individual she had sent the video to if he would say it was sent three years earlier than it actually was. The source further reported that the adult entertainment company Vivid had "legally" acquired a copy of the video(s), but could not release it (them) commercially without Prejean's agreement. A commercial release in the United States would require Prejean's written consent for a number of reasons, reflecting concerns in both civil and criminal areas of U.S. law. Prejean sought advice from Donald Trump on how to proceed. Trump is reported to have said, "only half-jokingly" in reference to her question, "Maybe she should become a major porn star, make millions of dollars, and give it to worthy causes."  Prejean's attorney, Charles LiMandri, has made it very clear that she has no interest in the videos being released, in spite of being offered "millions" of dollars by Vivid Video, and so far has been able to block their distribution. 
Larry King interview
On November 11, 2009, Larry King interviewed Prejean on CNN's Larry King Live. King questioned Prejean as to why she settled her lawsuit settlement with the Miss California organization. Prejean refused to answer and said, "Larry, you're being inappropriate." King moved on to a telephone caller, prompting Prejean to take off her microphone.
Reportedly before the interview, Prejean threatened to walk out. Prejean said to CNN news assistant Christina McAusland, "You tell Larry if he's not nice to me, I will get up and leave." Following the interview, Prejean accused the staffer of lying to her, saying King's producers promised no phone calls.
Donald Trump was puzzled by Prejean's interaction with King. "'Inappropriate' is more of a sexual term, as far as I'm concerned," Trump said. "I mean—inappropriate? He asked a very, very easy question and I was surprised that she just didn't say, 'Hey, listen, I can't answer that question.' Instead she wants to walk off the stage? It was very surprising."
Keith Lewis, the executive director of Miss California USA and Miss California Teen USA, also released a statement on the interview. "The public is finally getting a glimpse of the real Carrie Prejean who lives in her own delusional world," he said. "The childish behavior, her negative attitude, the sarcasm and condescending tone, the disrespect and continual lying she is demonstrating now is only a fraction of what we endured during her reign and after."
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