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Trump was not completely wrong in saying Ukraine produced a Miss Universe, but it’s unlikely he had a clue


It was hardly Donald Trump’s biggest Ukraine scandal this week, but the president may not have been technically wrong when he told Ukranian president Volodymyr Zelensky that the Miss Universe pageant his company owned from 1996 to 2015 once crowned a winner “from” Ukraine.

In a Wednesday press conference with Zelensky, Trump boasted "We had a winner from Ukraine and we really got to know the country well in a lot of ways.”

While it was quickly pointed out by media outlets everywhere that a Miss Ukraine has never won Miss Universe, 2002 first runner-up Justine Pasek, also known as Miss Panama, was born in Ukraine before moving to Central America as a child.

Pasek, who is of Panamian and Polish descent, was handed the crown in 2003 after winner Oxana Federova from Russia was dethroned 119 days into her reign over contractual disagreements. Trump presented Pasek with the title at a press event in New York City four months after she finished second to Federova at the pageant in Puerto Rico. Pasek’s native language is Spanish, though she’s fluent in English too, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.

Robert Macedo, who publishes the Brazilian pageant site Miss News, first noticed the technicality, which argues the president wasn’t technically wrong. Whether Pasek was a “winner” and to what degree she’s “from Ukraine” is debatable. It’s also unclear why Trump would have gotten “to know the county well in a lot of ways” from that experience.

Macedo tells the Daily News that Pasek’s father worked as a globetrotting hydraulic engineer and was stationed in Ukraine when the future Miss Panama was born. Her stay was brief.

President Trump became the focus of a congressional impeachment investigation this week after a whistleblower accused him of pressuring the Ukranian government into helping dig up dirt on Democratic candidate Joe Biden. Former Vice President Biden is a front-runner to challenge Trump in the 2020 presidential election.