It took Alicia Machado a long time to speak about all her experiences with Donald Trump, and all that the year she spent working for the then Trump-owned Miss Universe pageant unleashed. Since the late 1990s, all that most people who are aware of Machado have known about her is that she was crowned Miss Universe in 1996, tangled with Trump over her weight and then moved on to a career in TV and movies.
As of Tuesday morning, some Americans have no doubt heard a bit more about Machado, a woman mentioned by Hillary Clinton on the debate stage Monday night. She is the woman, Clinton told the world, who Trump often referred to as Miss Housekeeping. And Trump did not deny it.
The Clinton campaign viewed Machado's experience with Trump behavior as so damning that Monday night, the campaign released a new commercial -- almost a short documentary -- featuring Machado. Speaking in Spanish, Machado described Trump as a man filled with grudges, racism and frightening anger, a man who contributed to her struggle with an eating disorder and, in keeping with another Trump critique Clinton raised on the debate stage, the owner of the pageant that did not pay her what she was due under the terms of her contract.
Trump's response followed on, "Fox and Friends," Tuesday morning. He said:
"That person was a Miss Universe person, and she was the worst we ever had. The worst, the absolute worst. She gained a massive amount of weight, and it was a real problem. We had a real problem. Not only that, her attitude, and we had a real problem with her, so Hillary went back into the years and she found this girl."
That's Trump's point of view. Here is the rest of Machado's story.
Machado, who hails from an influential, highly educated and politically engaged extended Venezuelan family, left college to compete for the crown and pursue what she hoped would blossom into a career in the U.S. entertainment industry. Trump purchased the Miss Universe pageant just in time to become her boss. At the time, all Machado knew was that Trump, a wealthy American businessman, had big plans to boost the pageant's profile and profits.
In the end, she came to view Trump as an insensitive bigot, a misogynist who seemed to view the pageant and pageant contestants alike as his personal property, Machado told me in an interview earlier this year for The Washington Post's Trump biography "Trump Revealed."
"Now, 20 years later, I can not believe that piece of sh-- could possibly be president," said Machado. "It was a nightmare I wouldn't want my daughter or any other little girl in this country to ever, ever encounter. This man behaved like a tyrant when I was Miss Universe and has behaved like a potential despot during this campaign. He lacks the basic skills to govern and is not a good human being."
Over the course of the year that Machado held the Miss Universe title -- and, as Trump often reminded her, worked for him -- she would feel such intense pressure to shed the pounds Trump told many, many television reporters, viewers and magazine readers that Machado had gained. He considered it an outrage, a potential violation of her contract. That in turn prompted officials with the Miss Venezuala pageant system to also comment on Machado's weight in both the English and Spanish-speaking international press.