May 11, 2010 | 3:40 pm
The Internet is abuzz with a new wrinkle in the marketing of the once squeaky-clean Miss USA pageant.
Instead of merely sporting the beautiful ball gowns for their official portrait the contestants typically don, this year the beauty queens are posing in lingerie, fishnet stockings, and racy bras -- quite a departure from when the pageant first started in 1950.
Billionaire Donald Trump, who has owned the Miss USA pageant since 1996, is defending the new portraits, which can be seen on the pageant's official website.
"We are in a different age. They are a little bit sexy, but I'll tell you what, everybody's watching, so I have no problems with it," Trump told the entertainment television show "The Insider". "If you look at Miss America, it's now off network television – and we're doing better than ever, so I really have no problem with it."
Miss USA, however, has a contract with NBC through 2013, although it helps, one would assume, that the peacock network is part owners in the venture, which airs the contest Sunday.
The pageant, you may recall, found itself mired in controversy last year when partially nude photos of Miss California Carrie Prejean surfaced.
The buzz via Twitter is mixed, as most controversial topics are. Check out a sample of the reactions after the jump...
Niquelle Allen wrote: It is hard to believe that Vanessa Williams was stripped of her crown for posing nude given the current pageant scandals.
1975jetsfan4 wrote: Can anyone find what's the big deal about this pics? I personally like them.
sYe216 was more critical: dear miss usa contestants, put your damn clothes back on. you all look like strippers.
An interesting pair of tweets came from a former Miss USA contestant who agreed with The Donald. Janaye Ingram wrote, "as a former #MissUSA contestant, I think the photos reflect the changing times. I think u can find this type of thing on any newsstand." Later she added, "If u dont like the photos, realize the problem is not the #missusa photos. The problem is society."
Shandi Finnessey, another Miss USA contestant who actually went on to become Miss USA 2004, agrees with Ingram. "Good luck to all the girls at Miss USA on Sunday. You look gorgeous in your pics and any haters are just jealous! ;)" Finnessey wrote. Earlier she did the talk show circuit defending the photos.
So what do you think? Are these photos too racy for a 60-year-old pageant? Or is Trump correct to assume that because Miss USA beats the comparatively more tame Miss America that the audience has spoken and they should get all the skin they seem to want? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
-- Tony Pierce
Video of Shandi Finnessy via her YouTube account
This article was written by Will the Pageant Guy
I'm the Guy at thePageantGuy.com