updated 11/28/2007 AT 8:45 AM ET
•originally published 11/28/2007 AT 8:50 AM ET
Miss Puerto Rico Ingrid Marie Rivera says her alleged pepper-spray incident – and the controversy it has sparked – will not trip her up on the road to the Miss Universe pageant.
“Now I’m heading to Miss Universe,” Rivera, 24, told Meredith Vieira during a friendly interview on Wednesday’s Today show. “Where you got a will, there’s a way. With God in my mind always, like I block myself through anything negative that could pass through my mind.”
Those negative thoughts apparently include the animosity NBC News reported has developed around the newly crowned Miss Puerto Rico, who, it was also reported, last year served as a judge in her country’s competition before joining the race this year.
The other contestants from Saturday’s pageant in San Juan – at which Rivera claimed her gown and other belongings had been pepper-sprayed in an alleged attempt to sabotage her – are also not taking kindly to being considered possible suspects in the case.
“All of us are good girls, honestly,” one of them told NBC.
‘It’s Not Funny’
Rivera said the same about herself to Vieira and claimed, contrary to reports of police skepticism over the fact that Rivera’s condition only seemed to occur when she was backstage, that her accusations about the pepper spray are genuine.
“It’s not funny,” she said. “It’s real. I had to go through so much … itchy, burning, reddish, swelling … a horrible feeling.”
Crime-lab tests on Rivera’s dress and makeup are to begin Wednesday, says NBC News.
Rivera added, in regard to the skepticism, “It’s not a nervous reaction. It’s not made up. It’s a beauty pageant. Why would I do that to myself?”
‘Let Me Do My Thing’
When asked why she didn’t initially take her claim to the police, and instead only told pageant supervisors, Rivera said that her thoughts were, “You know what? Just let me do my thing for now.”
And that thing includes moving on to the 57th Miss Universe in Vietnam’s central Nha Trang city of Khanh Hoa province next July. (The Miss Universe enterprise is jointly owned by Donald Trump and NBC, home to the Today show.)
Saying she’s ready for Vietnam, Rivera vowed, “Just give me the will, and give me the faith and I will go on.”