It turns out that Donald Trump‘s run for the White House has had far-reaching effects, even on people who have nothing to do with the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
Alicia Machado, a former Miss Universewho Trump famously mocked after Democratic rival Hillary Clinton brought her up during the first presidential debate, says she’s been the target of vicious Trump supporters for this entire campaign. Some have even threatened her life, she claims.
Machado, a native of Venezuela, became Miss Universe in 1996 at the age of 19, and at the time, Trump owned the pageant company. She says she was consistently insulted and humiliated by Trump when she gained weight post-pageant.
“I don’t forgive this man who [made it OK for people to] speak badly about [me],” Machado said. “I cannot stay quiet.”
She claims he called her “Miss Piggy” and “Miss Housekeeping” (in apparent mockery of her Venezuelan accent).
After Clinton brought up Trump’s treatment of Machado at the debate, the Republican candidate defended his comments, saying it was “a real problem” at the time.
“To be in this position, they’re going to say that I’m a whore. It’s already happening. They’re saying it again. That I look fat or old. Of all the things they can say to me in this moment, I already lived it,” Machado says.
Machado isn’t letting their comments get to her.
“They won’t intimidate me because I’m backed up by the truth,” she says. “As long as I’m firm and strong in my convictions, I’m at peace and moving forward.”
Machado spent her years post-Miss Universe acting in telenovelas, and now runs an online store, is filming a movie in the U.S., is writing a memoir, and continues to work on her foundation, Mamis Solas, which aids other single moms.
Machado, who became a U.S. citizen in August to vote against Trump, says she decided to jump into the political fray for her 8-year-old daughter Dinorah.
“My daughter motivated me to share my story,” Machado explains. “She’s a very happy girl, who was born in this country. I have to share that and maybe my story can make some people understand the magnitude of what it would mean to have Trump as the leader of the most important country in the world.”
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