Miss USA’s Past Title: Best Stripper

The first Muslim woman to win the title of Miss USA has become embroiled in controversy after it transpired she took part in a pole dancing competition at a strip club in Detroit.

Newly-crowned Miss USA Rima Fakih participates in 'Mojo In the Morning Show' annual 'Stripper 101' event in 2007 in Detroit. Photo: Mojo In The Morning

Another year, another Miss USA and another scandal? First there was Tara Conner. Then Katie Rees. And who could forget Carrie Prejean?!

The newly crowned Miss USA 2010, Rima Fakih, won a competition of a different kind in 2007 – a stripper contest.

Less than 24 hours after her victory pictures emerged of Rima Fakih, 24, dancing next to a pole wearing red hot pants and a tank top, One photograph showed her with dollar bills stuffed into her bra.

The “Stripper 101” contest took place in 2007 and was sponsored by a Detroit Radio show called “Mojo in the Morning”.

Host Mojo said on the station’s website he hoped the 24-year-old would not be stripped of her crown.

“Rima was our overall winner of the best student Stripper 101,” morning show host Mojo tells E! News. “We do it every July. We give away awards for the best pole dancing, the best lap dancing and the best booty shake.”

Fakih, also the reigning Miss Michigan, is no stranger to the surfacing of scantily clad photos , but this is the first time such a shot could hurt her standings in the Donald Trump-run pageant.

“We just got a phone call from some of the people from the pageant,” Mojo says. “They were kind of insinuating to us that she could be in trouble for doing this contest.”

This one's for you: Miss Michigan Rima Fakih reacts as she is crowned Miss USA 2010 by Miss USA 2009 Kristen Dalton in Las Vegas. Photo: Reuters

“They asked for copies of all the pictures and they wanted the specifics of what happens at the event,” he says. “They did not ask us to stop giving them out, although they didn’t seem very pleased that they were on the website. It would be foolish to think differently of Rima based on a contest that happened three years ago.”

The revelations in the Donald Trump-organised beauty pageant follow last year’s runner-up, Carrie Prejean, being criticised for saying that marriage should only be between a man and a woman. She also lost her Miss California crown for alleged breaches of contract.

Newly-crowned Miss USA Rima Fakih participates in 'Mojo In the Morning Show' annual 'Stripper 101' event in 2007 in Detroit. Photo: Mojo In The Morning

Lebanese-American Fakih was hailed as the first woman of Arab descent to win the coveted beauty pageant title. A resident of the city of Dearborn, Michigan, Fakih was selected by a panel of celebrity judges at the event in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Fakih’s family moved to the US while she was a baby and that she was raised in New York City, where she attended a Catholic school, until 2003 when her family moved to Michigan. She told pageant organisers her family celebrates both Muslim and Christian faiths.

Fakih, who earned a college degree in economics from the University of Michigan, said she hoped to become an attorney. Her favourite pastimes are travel, running, dancing and kickboxing, pageant officials say.

Her package of prizes that go along with her custom diamond tiara include a one-year scholarship, a year-long lease on a New York apartment including living expenses, an undisclosed salary, a clothing and shoe wardrobe and various other health and beauty related perks and prizes.

Hand on Heart: Miss Michigan Rima Fakih is crowned Miss USA during the 2010 pageant at the Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino in Las Vegas. Photo: Reuters

The Detroit Free Press newspaper reported that a large crowd gathered at a restaurant in Dearborn, which is heavily Arab-American, to watch the contest. They cheered Fakih and danced and sang late into the night on Sunday.

“This is historic,” the daily wrote, quoting Imad Hamad, regional director of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee. This shows the greatness of America, how everyone can have a chance to make it.”

Another Dearborn resident, Zouheir Alawieh, 51, told the newspaper: “This is the real face of Arab Americans, not the stereotypes you hear about. We have culture. We have beauty. We have history, and today we made history. She believed in her dreams.” [Mojo via Telegraph (UK), TMZ and SMH (Au)]

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