Democrat presidential nominee Hillary Clinton on Monday night at the first presidential election debate told a touching story of a victimized beauty-pageant contestant with a zinger aimed at Republican nominee Donald Trump.
The Miss Universe pageant's 1996 winner, Alicia Machado, Clinton claimed, was brutalized by Trump after she gained weight during her reign. Trump had just become co-owner of the Miss Universe organization when the alleged verbal abuse took place.
"And he called this woman 'Miss Piggy.' Then he called her 'Miss Housekeeping,' because she was Latina," Clinton claimed. "Donald, she has a name: Her name is Alicia Machado. … She has become a U.S. citizen, and you can bet she's going to vote this November."
TRENDING: Snake handler
Machado told reporters Tuesday in a conference call arranged by Clinton’s campaign that her experience with Trump could "open eyes" in the election.
After the debate, Machado tweeted in Spanish: "Thanks Mrs. Hillary Clinton. Your respect for women and our differences makes you great. I'm with you."
The New York Times joined Clinton in the anti-Trump chorus on Tuesday with a story about how "for 20 years," she lived with the "agony" of winning the Miss Universe title and its aftermath: the "shame" for "gaining weight."
The rest of the story, however, was absent from that narrative.
In 1998, Machado was accused of driving her boyfriend "from the scene of a shooting," and the Associated Press subsequently reported a Venezuelan judge said "a former Miss Universe threatened to kill him after he indicted her boyfriend for attempted murder."
The first report, published in the Lawrence Journal-World and archived online, is from AP about the shooting of Francisco Sbert Moukso, who suffered brain damage when "two bullets punctured his skull outside a church where his dead wife was being eulogized."
The report continued, "Sbert's family believes the victim was shot by his brother-in-law, Juan Rodriguez Reggeti, because he believed Sbert drove his sister to commit suicide."
Sbert's lawyer reported witnesses saw Machado, 21, "driving the getaway car."
She was identified as "the former Miss Universe who attracted international attention by reportedly gaining more than 30 pounds after being crowned."
When she was accused of driving the getaway car in court documents, her lawyer said it couldn't have been her because "she wasn't even present at the site of the incident."
He said she was filming a soap opera at the time.
Another archived AP story, from about a month later, noted that Judge Maximiliano Fuenmayer told a national television program in Caracas that "a former Miss Universe threatened to kill him after he indicted her boyfriend for attempted murder."
The report said "Venezuelan beauty queen Alicia Machado threatened 'to ruin my career as a judge and … kill me,' Judge Maximiliano Fuenmayer said."
The AP said, "The 21-year-old Machado, who created an international stir in 1996 when she gained 35 pounds after being crowned Miss Universe, allegedly called the judge after he issued an arrest warrant Wednesday for Juan Rafael Rodriguez Regetti."
It continued: "The victim's family accused Machado of driving the getaway car, but Fuenmayor has not indicted her, citing insufficient evidence. The judge said there were no witnesses to place Machado at the scene - or to back up her claim she was home sick at the time."
Additionally, Reuters reported that Machado's scandal erupted when "according to the judge, a woman identifying herself as Machado called him after the ruling and 'said she would make sure, using her friendship with the president (Rafael Caldera), that my career as a judge is ruined and then she would kill me.'"
The judge reported the threats to police and explained he traced the caller through an incoming caller-ID function on his mobile phone, the report said.
In addition to using part of Machado's story at the Monday night debate, Clinton also has tried to take advantage by using her story in an ad:
In the ad, Machado claimed Trump told her, after the pageant and her weight gain, "You look fat."
The ad admits she "gained some weight."
She claimed Trump's criticism caused "eating disorders" and accused him of harboring grudges and "deep racism."
Her ad ends with a solicitation by Hillary Clinton for money.
Several other media outlets also produced glowing tributes to Machado, including CNN, which admitted the 1996 pageant winner "gained nearly 60 pounds."
But it didn't mention the conflict with the judge over her boyfriend.
People magazine also published the tale, without mentioning the run-in with the court.
CNN's Anderson Cooper gave Machado a chance to respond to the allegations on Tuesday.
"The judge in the case also said you threatened to kill him after he indicted your boyfriend for the attempted murder. I just want to give you a chance to address these reports that the Trump surrogates are talking about," Cooper said.
Machado said the reports "are not the point now."
"You know, I have my past. Of course, everybody has a past. I'm not a saint girl, but that is not the point now.
"That moment in Venezuela was wrong, was another speculation about my life because I am a really famous person in my country," she said.
"[Trump] can say whatever he wants to say," Machado added. "I don't care."
Machado was also interviewed Tuesday by Fox News' Megyn Kelly on "The Kelly File." Kelly asked whether anyone else heard Trump call her "Miss Piggy" or "Miss Housekeeping" decades ago, as she claims.
Machado did not answer Kelly's specific question.
Kelly also brought up Machado's past claim that Trump's insults sparked her struggle with bulimia and anorexia. Kelly pointed to a Washington Post interview in 1997, in which Machado discussed suffering from an eating disorder while preparing for the Miss Universe contest, long before her association with Trump.
"No … I never had any problem before Miss Universe," replied Machado.
Watch video of the interview:
Machado, now 39, became an American citizen a few weeks ago and is promoting Clinton for the presidency.
In June, Machado appeared at a news conference in Virginia held by immigrant advocacy groups to encourage Latino voters to support Clinton.