'Miss Universe 1996' Host Breaks Silence on Trump's Alicia Machado Comments: "Inexcusable"
Bob Goen was the co-host the year of her coronation and says Trump's comments about her weight were "self-serving."
The year was 1996. Donald Trump was about to buy the Miss Universe pageant. His then-wife Marla Maples was co-hosting the May ceremony with Entertainment Tonight co-host Bob Goen. And the winner was Miss Venezuela, a 19-year-old named Alicia Machado.
"She was really enjoying the moment. She was enjoying her chance to shine in the spotlight," Goen tells The Hollywood Reporter. "She seemed very upbeat, and she seemed comfortable with the position, and that was it."
In reality, that was just the beginning. Twenty years later, Machado has found herself in the spotlight once again after Hillary Clinton criticized Trump during the first presidential debate for his previous comments about Machado, which included "Miss Housekeeping" and "Miss Piggy" because of her alleged weight gain during her year-long reign as Miss Universe. After the debate, he also went on a Twitter rant about her past and an alleged sex tape she had made — an accusation that has been proven to be untrue.
His remarks about Machado, who has campaigned for Clinton in Florida and has been featured in videos made by the Clinton campaign, drew outrage from many watching the debate. Although Goen didn't watch the debate — he goes to bed early for his morning radio show, Bob & Marianne in the Morning on Cincinnati's Warm 98.5 — he eventually learned that Machado's name had come up.
"I think his position is inexcusable," he says. "I thought it was self-serving. I'm not a fan of the way this was handled."
In 1997, Trump called her an "eating machine" and discussed how her weight had become "unacceptable." In a press conference at the time, as seen below, he had her appear with a personal trainer and work out in front of the media.
The 1996 pageant marked Goen's third time hosting Miss Universe. Although Trump hadn't bought a portion of the pageant yet — that acquisition would come four months later, in September 1996 — he was on hand to support his wife. Goen says he had "minimal" interaction with Trump at the time.
"He flew in that day for the pageant," Goen recalls. "I do remember seeing him backstage beforehand and talking with him and talking with Marla, and it was quite genial."
Trump owned half the Miss Universe pageant, as well as the Miss USA and Miss Teen USA pageants, for nearly 19 years before he bought NBC's half and then sold the entire organization to WME/IMG in September 2015. Trump sold the pageants after his controversial comments in June about immigrants, whom he called "rapists" and alleged were bringing drugs and crime into the U.S. Many of those involved with the Miss USA pageant, which was set to air weeks later, cut ties with the broadcast, and NBC soon scrapped its plans to telecast the ceremony. (Reelz eventually aired the show.)
Machado went on to become a singer, actress and TV personality. Looking back, Goen recalls his time with Machado fondly. He says, "As much as the language barrier would allow, we got along great, and she was a very sweet gal."