“sMothered” Star Sparks Pageant Drama After Losing Out on Miss Connecticut USA: 'They Did Not Want Me to Win'

“When you have a certain level of status, I guess they don’t want you to win,” Gabriella Vigorito said in a TikTok that made waves in the pageant community

<p>Slaven Vlasic/Getty</p> Gabriella Vigorito, the Miss Connecticut USA contestant who took issue with how she ranked in the 2024 competition

Slaven Vlasic/Getty

Gabriella Vigorito, the Miss Connecticut USA contestant who took issue with how she ranked in the 2024 competition

A TikToker who also appeared on the reality show sMothered is facing backlash for comments she made after not winning the crown in a local beauty pageant.

Gabriella Vigorito, who starred on season 5 of the TLC show, made waves on social media when she posted a TikTok video after competing in the 2024 Miss Connecticut USA competition, which was held on April 14.

This was Vigorito’s fifth year competing in the pageant after having placed in the top five the last two years. In her TikTok video, which she posted last week, Vigorito said she was “very hopeful" as she felt like she “nailed” her interview and “killed it on stage.”

However, she only made the top 11.

Shavana Clarke, who represented Bridgeport County, was ultimately crowned Miss Connecticut USA 2024. She was third-runner up in 2023, according to Pageant Circle — one slot ahead of Vigorito, who was fourth-runner up at the time.

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“I was on a reality tv show, I was the face of the show, I went on a national media tour, I walked in New York Fashion Week with Miss Universe," Vigorito said in her video. "And I’m not good enough to make a top 5 in Miss Connecticut USA?"

“When you have a certain level of status, I guess they don’t want you to win,” she said in one comment that has sparked particular criticism, adding, "They did not want me to win and they did not want me to have more success."

She continued, "I could have given so much good press to the pageant industry but I’m choosing to walk away and speak the truth.”

<p>Gabriella Vigorito/Instagram</p> Gabriella Vigorito

Gabriella Vigorito/Instagram

Gabriella Vigorito

Vigorito, who called her fellow contestants "amazing" in a separate Instagram post, has also been criticized for saying there was not a “crazy” amount of competition, which she went on to say was a reference to Connecticut not being "a big pageant state." At another point in the video, she also mentioned there were only 19 contestants competing for the title this year.

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PEOPLE reached Vigorito but was not immediately able to speak to her despite several inquiries. Pageant organizers did not respond to a request for comment.

Related: U.S. Air Force Officer Madison Marsh Crowned as 2024 Miss America: 'The Sky Is Not the Limit'

Addressing the pageant drama on April 22, Clarke posted a video on her own TikTok page in which she said she empathized with Vigorito's "disappointment with losing," but said she was ultimately "saddened by the statements made in that video."

"All of that said, I do not endorse the bullying that I've seen in Gabriella's comment section," she added. "As someone who has experienced the negative effects of bullying, I don't believe that anyone deserves that kind of hate, especially on social media."

"People should be given the space and the grace to express themselves and where they are without being canceled," added Clarke.

<p>shavana Clarke/Instagram</p> Shavana Clarke

shavana Clarke/Instagram

Shavana Clarke

As her video came to a close, Vigorito said that while she loves pageants, "I don’t need a crown to make a difference" — and that she's "done" trying to win the pageant.

In her Instagram post, the social media influencer said that "when one door closes another one opens."

While her own time with pageants might be over, she told her mom Catherine, a previous Miss Connecticut USA winner who appeared on the show with her, that they will "always continue our pageant practice at the zoo with the flamingos."

"You will always be my costar," she added. "We have just begun."

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