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Embarrassing Fall Can't Keep Miss USA Down

When Miss USA Rachel Smith took a tumble on stage at the Miss Universe pageant last week, she thought: "Are you kidding me? Are you kidding?"

Every woman worries about tripping wearing heels, and Miss USA had on a 4-inch mega heel that could be the culprit, she said.

"I think my heel got caught in the lining of my dress and whenever it hit the slippery stage, down I went for the count," she told The Early Show co-anchor Hannah Storm. "You know? But hey, I did it with style. I had my nice little Cavalli gown on."


Photos: Miss Universe 2007
But that wasn't Smith's only problem at the pageant, which was held in Mexico City. She was booed throughout the competition and the month stay in Mexico. It became particularly bad when Smith wore an Elvis outfit as her national costume a week before the pageant.2

During the pageant, when Smith was chosen to stay in the final five and Miss Mexico was eliminated, the crowd again erupted into boos, so much so that co-host Mario Lopez told them to quiet down. Owner of the pageant Donald Trump said he was worried the audience might storm the stage.

"I think there were just a myriad of reasons why," Smith said. "I mean, I can't pinpoint. It's only speculation. It could have been political reasons. It could have been athletic rivalry. It could have been the fact that their girl didn't make it to the top five. But I can't dwell on it. I was there to compete and did just that. I had to represent my country to best of my ability regardless of the situation. I think I was able to — to hold my own."


Photos: Native Beauties
The same thing happened when Mexico hosted the competition in 1993. Mexicans booed Kenya Moore, Miss U.S.A., after Miss Mexico was eliminated. And three years ago Mexican soccer fans screamed "Osama" when the U.S. soccer team played Mexico in an Olympic qualifying match. Smith was warned she might experience this type of behavior but she said it is hard not to take it personally. She said she has emerged stronger for it.

Photos: Miss USA
"I'm a tough cookie," she said. "Steel magnolia and grace under fire. It was with great honor and pride that I wore the sash of USA. And I'll continue to do so. As a representative, you've got to take the bad along with the good. That was some of the bad I had to endure, some of that adversity. It's all with how you handle it."

Now Smith is moving on to her work as Miss USA. She said she is championing breast and ovarian cancer awareness and will be off to Kenya in a week.

"It's going to be an exciting year," she said. "I can't wait to see what's in store."