Miss USA: I'm an Alcoholic - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

01/29/07

Miss USA: I'm an Alcoholic

Miss USA 2006 Tara Conner was allowed to complete her yearlong reign, which included a stint in rehab.  (Bryan Bedder/Getty Images) Miss USA 2006 Tara Conner was allowed to complete her yearlong reign, which included a stint in rehab. (Bryan Bedder/Getty Images)

After spending 31 days in rehab for her hard-partying ways, Miss USA Tara Conner is out and is "a completely different person," she exclusively told People Magazine in an issue that will appear on newsstands this week.

"I'm a completely different person out of rehab. Before I entered rehab I hardly knew who I was," she told the magazine. "I felt like I was floating and I just needed someone to pull me down."

Donald Trump, co-owner of the Miss Universe group, was expected to strip Conner of her title in December amid allegations of underage drinking, drug use, and publicly kissing Miss Teen USA Katie Blair. Instead, the billionaire real estate mogul let the 21-year-old Kentucky beauty queen keep her title.

During the news conference, Conner tearfully agreed to go into rehab, though she said she did not believe she had a drinking problem.

However, now that she's out of rehab, she's changed her tune.

"I didn't think I had any kind of issue going into rehab," she told People, "but I've realized I do have an issue. I suffer from the disease of alcoholism and addiction."

Conner's time in rehab hasn't only resulted in her recovery. Trump's forgiveness of Conner sparked a public feud between him and "The View" host Rosie O'Donnell.

Trump, O'Donnell said, has no right to be "the moral compass for 20-year-olds in America." "The Donald" countered, publicly calling O'Donnell a "loser" and a "degenerate."

Will Rehab Stint Help Conner's Career?

Some people think that the scandal could eventually help Conner's career.

"The key for a celebrity to come out on top is to lead the story -- and not let the story lead her. And I think she did that," Elliot Mintz, who has negotiated many stars through media firestorms, including Paris Hilton, told ABC News in December.

"Sure, a scandal will give you name recognition, and that can certainly be a good thing, but only if you can prove to the public that you have control over the situation."

Rumors have spread that Penthouse magazine was offering her a contract to do a pictorial. This month, it was widely reported that Trump was entertaining the thought of allowing Conner to pose for Playboy.

"Scandal and beauty seem to go well together, especially from a publicity standpoint," said Rachel Weingarten, a fashion marketing consultant and author of "Hello Gorgeous."

"Bad-girl images help Britney and Paris. And, of course, so many big-name models are getting into trouble. But it hardly ends their careers," Weingarten said.

Buck Wolf contributed to this report.

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