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Myanmar pageant winner stripped of crown won't return it without apology

A teenage beauty queen from Myanmar, the first winner of an international pageant from that country, is making international headlines this week after losing her title and being accused of then stealing the crown she won.

16-year-old May Myat Noe was crowned the winner of the Miss Asia Pacific World contest in Seoul this past May and was subsequently dethroned last week for being what David Kim, director of media for the pageant, described as “dishonest and unappreciative.” Noe is also accused to making off with her tiara, which is valued at over $100,000, after being stripped of her title but she claims she was already on a plane heading back to Myanmar before hearing about the dethroning.

At a press conference on Tuesday, Noe addressed the situation and leveled some allegations of her own. Noe told reporters that she was forced to lie about her age and claim she was 18 in order to compete, as well as undergo a “head to toe” cosmetic surgery procedure provided by the pageant including breast implants, which she denies accepting. Noe also says she was asked to escort “some business tycoons whenever they require my company” in order to generate funds for a record deal.

Organizers, meanwhile, claim the former winner “lied and never had respect for the main organisation, the national director, the manager, media or fans who made her the winner." As for the crown, the AP notes that Noe said she didn’t intend to steal it but will only return it if pageant officials apologize to her and the country of Myanmar as a whole for, according to a subtitled clip of her comments, “discrediting the integrity of our country.”

"I don't want a crown from an organization with such a bad reputation," Noe said. A BBC News correspondent has reportedly said organizers are now considering legal action.