During the first presidential debate, Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton pointed to Republican nominee Donald Trump’s record of mistreating women, highlighting his attacks on former Miss Universe Alicia Machado, whom he referred to as “Miss Piggy.” Trump, who owned the Miss Universe pageant from 1996 to 2015, doubled down the morning after the debate on the September 27 edition of Fox News’ Fox & Friends, saying Machado had “gained a massive amount of weight and it was a real problem.”
Machado appeared on Univision’s Al Punto in May after a New York Times report about Trump’s treatment of women in private described the insults and humiliation Trump subjected her to during her time as Miss Universe. Machado told host Jorge Ramos that Trump had treated her terribly and had mocked her appearance, calling her “Miss Piggy” and “Miss Housekeeping” and saying she was an “eating machine.” She also said the experience had caused her “huge emotional pain.” From the May 22 edition of Univision’s Al Punto:
JORGE RAMOS (HOST): What happened? What happened when you win Miss Universe in 1996, you were 18 years old, and then the New York Times report says you had gained weight after. Enter Donald Trump; what happened?
ALICIA MACHADO: Well, first I want to take advantage of this opportunity to talk to the Hispanic community, with all the love I’ve always had for it in the past 20 years, to tell them that all of what’s happening with my voice is not something I have sought out. It’s something that has come to me. The people from The New York Times have come to me and asked me to speak for this report, along with other women who’ve had the opportunity or had the experience of being close to Trump, women of different socioeconomic status and careers.
RAMOS: And how did Donald Trump treat you?
MACHADO: Terribly, and this isn't something new for me to say. I’ve been saying this for 20 years, what I lived through in that year, how that affected me as a person, I suffered a lot of psychological violence.
RAMOS: We’re going to show a video of you, when you get there, and you told this story to the NYT, you get to the gym--
MACHADO: Yes and I had no idea any of this was going to happen.
RAMOS: You didn’t know there was going to be media?
MACHADO: No, I didn’t know anything at all. All that I can say about Trump is something I can prove, it’s all documented, I’m not making anything up.
RAMOS: These reporters, you didn't know they would be there.
MACHADO: No, I didn’t know they were going to be there. This happened about four months -- yes, I think it was around December or November, because I remember it was really cold in New York. And I had won in May, so it wasn’t like I gained weight immediately. I won the best body in Miss Universe that year, I lifted a lot of weights. It was the time where fit bodies were starting to become trendy, “light” things were trendy.
RAMOS: How did all of this affect you?
MACHADO: A lot. I'm going to tell you quickly, I went to the company and asked them for help, I went to their office in Los Angeles. I told them I had gained weight, I don't feel happy, if you put me with a nutritionist I can lose this weight quickly. They told me pack your bags you're going to New York. I said great, I go to New York, and the next day they tell me we’re going to a gym, to set me up with a personal trainer, and a diet. And when I arrived at the gym, I find all this [media] circus. And I tell him I don’t want to do it, that I was embarrassed. And he said, "I don't care, I pay you for this, smile.”
RAMOS: You have a big social media presence. One of your followers asked, “Why did it take you so long to denounce this?”
MACHADO: Because he wasn't running for president before, I think -- he's not going to run a casino, he's going to run a great nation, the United States. I also had to overcome a huge emotional pain that even now when I remember it I am upset about it --
RAMOS: You responded saying, “I didn't think he could ever be a presidential candidate and when I was 18 I was afraid [of speaking out]. Without fear.” You were scared of Donald Trump?
MACHADO: Of course. Very afraid, I was very afraid of him. How could I not be, if was coming from a city at 18 years old as a beauty queen, I didn't have a multimillionaire family that could support me against such a powerful man. So I want to take the opportunity to tell voters in this election -- this country and the world does not need a man who can just do business. I also think we need a good human being, a person with a good heart, and I am totally and absolutely convinced that Donald Trump is not a person that has a good heart.
RAMOS: You will become a citizen of the United States soon?
MACHADO: Yes, I want to be able to vote, to have the moral authority to be able to fight for the well-being of this country. I forgave Trump for this episode and other things that happened in that time --
RAMOS: What else did you see, in Donald Trump and his treatment of other people?
MACHADO: I'm just going to be talking about my own experience. What I lived was not pleasant, it was humiliating. He's a cold, calculating person, he’s a man that has very little consideration for anyone he thinks is inferior.
RAMOS: He called you Miss Piggy once?
MACHADO: He called me Miss Piggy, he called me Miss Housekeeping, he called me an eating machine. And I would argue with him saying that I'm Latina and have a little bit more than others.
RAMOS: You considered in an insult at that time?
MACHADO: Yes of course, and it was also how he said it. It’s not just what they say to you, it’s also how they say it.