Did Miss USA "Natasha Berkelston" state she "won't compete against a man" and boycott the 2023 Miss Universe pageant after Rikkie Kollé was named Miss Netherlands, becoming the first transgender woman to take the title? No, that's not true: This claim originated from a self-described satirical website aimed at trolling conservatives. The website that posted the information, The Dunning-Kruger Times, has a disclaimer that describes itself as part of a network of "parody, satire, and tomfoolery." Christopher Blair, the originator of this website, has a history of trolling using satirical news stories. As of this publication, the Miss USA title was held by Morgan Romano, and the name "Natasha Berkelston" appears to be entirely made up. Miss USA has not boycotted the 2023 Miss Universe pageant as of July 17, 2023, whether in protest of the inclusion of Kollé or for any other reason.
The claim first appeared in an article published by The Dunning-Kruger Times, titled "Miss USA Boycotts Miss Universe Pageant: 'I'm Not Competing Against a Man'" on July 9, 2023, (archived here). The article opened:
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."
Below is how the article appeared at the time of this publication:
(Source: The Dunning-Kruger Times screenshot taken Mon July 17 17:08:44 UTC 2023)
Versions of the claim were reposted on social media as authentic news. The website Laptops Villa republished the story with slight changes to the original on July 16, 2023, but without The Dunning-Kruger Times' disclaimer about satire.
Miss USA has not boycotted the 2023 Miss Universe pageant as of July 17, 2023, whether in protest at the inclusion of Kollé, the first transgender winner of that competition, or for any other reason.
In July 2023, 22-year-old Kollé was named Miss Netherlands 2023 -- the first transgender woman to take the title -- and is set to represent her nation at the Miss Universe pageant in El Salvador in 2023.
Furthermore, the current Miss USA as of July 2023 was Morgan Romano, and the name "Natasha Berkelston" appears to be entirely made up.
A search of Google News, which indexes thousands of credible news sites, using the keywords "Miss USA Boycotts Miss Universe" produced no credible independent reports supporting the claim. If she had made such an announcement, the pageant's international stature make it likely such an event would have been covered widely.
The Dunning-Kruger Times website is part of the satirical network America's Last Line of Defense, the work of Christopher Blair, a notorious liberal prankster who produces fake claims to troll conservatives. The Dunning-Kruger Times has an About Us page (archived here) with the following disclaimer:
Dunning-Kruger-Times.com is a subsidiary of the 'America's Last Line of Defense' network of parody, satire, and tomfoolery, or as Snopes called it before they lost their war on satire: Junk News
Before you complain and decide satire is synonymous with 'comedy':
sat·ire ˈsaˌtī(ə)r noun: The use of humor, irony, exaggeration, OR ridicule to expose and criticize people's stupidity or vices, particularly in the context of contemporary politics and other topical issues.
Everything on this website is fiction. It is not a lie and it is not fake news because it is not real. If you believe that it is real, you should have your head examined. Any similarities between this site's pure fantasy and actual people, places, and events are purely coincidental and all images should be considered altered and satirical. See above if you're still having an issue with that satire thing.
The website is named after the Dunning-Kruger effect, a term from a psychology experiment that describes the phenomenon of being ignorant of one's own ignorance. (That experiment has been disputed by a math professor.)
It is run by self-described liberal troll Christopher Blair.
Blair runs several other websites, including wearethellod.com, bustatroll.org or bebest.website. Sometimes he is also known under his nickname "Busta Troll."
Lead Stories has flagged other satirical stories shared as authentic, including that Elon Musk did not decline a $120 million Bud Light Twitter marketing campaign, that Tucker Carlson did not turn down a $30-million offer from CNN and that Kevin Costner was not suing "The View" for hate speech.
Other Lead Stories articles on claims related to Blair's satirical sites are here.