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Alicia Machado relieved reign is over; not enough glamour, she says

April 20, 1997 GMT

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) _ Sweating the fat off for all the world to see was hardly the high point of her reign as Miss Universe, Alicia Machado says.

``Nobody cared to know how I feel when they say in the papers I’m a cow,″ the former Miss Venezuela told the Caracas daily El Nacional in an telephone interview from Los Angeles.

Miss Machado was crowned Miss Universe in May 1996. By December, rumors began circulating that pageant organizers were considering taking back her crown because she had put on weight. By Miss Machado’s count, she had added 24 pounds to her 5-foot-7 frame.

``When I get to New York thinking they (pageant organizers) were going to help me, I find myself in a gym with 80 photographers all taking pictures and watching the little pig exercise. That’s not fun for anyone,″ she said in the interview published Saturday.

The New York photo shoot was the brainstorm of the pageant owner _ real estate developer and expert self-promoter Donald Trump.

``He said, `This is a perfect opportunity for us to make some publicity for the pageant. Let’s take advantage of this fatty,‴ she said.

As her yearlong reign draws to a close, Miss Machado said that’s fine with her. It was a lot more 16-hour days and wearying trips to dull places _ more than 400 cities in 25 countries _ than it was glamourous.

It was ``a marvelous experience″ that may launch her acting career, she said, but ``to be truthful, yes, I’m very tired of Miss Universe. ... I’m just an employee of theirs. I felt more like a queen when I was Miss Venezuela.″