Fact Check

Is Miss USA Boycotting the Miss Universe Pageant Over Trans Contestant?

The 'Dunning-Kruger Times' is not a legitimate source of information.

Published July 11, 2023

 (Jason Kempin/Getty Images)
Image Via Jason Kempin/Getty Images
In July 2023, Miss USA said she will boycott the Miss Universe contest over the participation of Miss Netherlands 2023, a trans contestant.

In early July 2023, a website associated with the troll-satire brand America's Last Line of Defense, the Dunning-Kruger Times, published a story asserting that Miss USA will boycott the Miss Universe pageant in response to the participation of Miss Netherlands, a transgender women:

Natasha Berkelston grew up in the heartland of America. Ashbaucher, Indiana is known for its sparse population, high number of people on government assistance, and sprawling dirt roads in Section 8 trailer parks.

With all of that working against her, she made it out. She won the Little Miss, the Junior Miss, and the Miss Teen pageants in her state. At just 20, she's now Miss USA, with only one step left to the international title of Miss Universe. Unfortunately, she's not going.

"I won't compete against a man," she told ALLOD Correspondent Joe Barron, referring to the winner from the Netherlands, Rikki Valerie. "And I won't be in the same locker room. Those areas are sacred and no place for a man."

Several problems emerge with this narrative. First, Ashbaucher, Indiana, does not exist. Second, no woman named Natasha Berkelson has ever been crowned Miss USA. Third, the transgender contestant from the Netherlands is named Rikkie Kollé. Fourth, the current Miss USA is former Miss South Carolina, Morgan Romano, who was crowned Miss USA in January 2023, after the original first-place winner of that contest —  R'Bonney Gabriel, was crowned Miss Universe. 

Romano's term as Miss USA, in other words, does not come with the opportunity to boycott the next Miss Universe contest — that choice belongs to her successor, chosen in the fall prior to the Miss Universe contest at the end of the year. 

The Netherlands, on the other hand, has already chosen its representative. Rikki Kollé became the second trans woman selected to compete in a Miss Universe contest and the first to win the Miss Netherlands title on July 8, 2023. 

The Dunning-Kruger Times, which published this article, is named after the Dunning-Kruger Effect, a concept in psychology "in which poor performers in many social and intellectual domains seem largely unaware of just how deficient their expertise is." 

The site is part of the is America's Last Line of Defense Network "of parody, satire, and tomfoolery" that purports to bait conservatives to share false news.

Because the premise, names, and location in this article are either made up or impossible, but because the claim comes from a site with a satire disclaimer of sorts, the assertion is Labeled Satire. 

For background, here is why we sometimes write about satire/humor.


Dunning, David. "Chapter Five - The Dunning–Kruger Effect: On Being Ignorant of One's Own Ignorance." Advances in Experimental Social Psychology, edited by James M. Olson and Mark P. Zanna, vol. 44, Academic Press, 2011, pp. 247–96. ScienceDirect, https://doi.org/10.1016/B978-0-12-385522-0.00005-6.

Formers. https://missusa.com/formers/. Accessed 11 July 2023.

Janes , Théoden. "Why Did This Charlotte Engineer Leave Her Job? Because — Surprise! — She's Now Miss USA." The Charlotte Observer, 16 Feb. 2023, https://www.charlotteobserver.com/article272506621.html.

Malach, Hannah. "Miss Universe R'Bonney Gabriel Crowns First Transgender Winner of Miss Netherlands." WWD, 10 July 2023, https://wwd.com/pop-culture/celebrity-news/miss-universe-transgender-rikkie-kolle-miss-netherlands-1235738824/.

"Meet the Man Who Makes Fake News for Millions of Trump Supporters." The Independent, 19 Nov. 2018, https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/fake-news-donald-trump-facebook-last-line-of-defense-conservatives-social-media-a8639981.html.

Patriot, Flagg Eagleton-. "Miss USA Boycotts Miss Universe Pageant: 'I'm Not Competing Against a Man.'" Dunning-Kruger-Times.Com, 9 July 2023, https://dunning-kruger-times.com/miss-usa-boycotts-miss-universe-pageant-im-not-competing-against-a-man/.

Alex Kasprak is an investigative journalist and science writer reporting on scientific misinformation, online fraud, and financial crime.