Imagine winning the lottery, but never getting your money. A local woman feels like she's been cheated. After winning a local competition last year for $50,000, she tells Contact 13, she's still waiting for her payday.
"I was shocked. And I still kind of am shocked that I won," says Tianna Tuamoheloa.
She's the winner of the 2015 Ultimate Bikini Championships. Tianna is a professional Las Vegas model. The 22-year-old thought the contest could be a great career move.
"When I looked into who was competing, these were pretty well known bikini models. International bikini models. So, I thought it was a big deal," says Tianna.
The competition at Drai's Beach Club at the Cromwell hotel-casino spanned 9 weeks.
"So tired, but I thought it was worth it... It's a job. It was paying my bills," says Tianna.
The ladies got a paycheck every week. But the ultimate goal? Make the final round for a chance at the $50,000 grand prize. And here's Tianna with her giant check on the day she won.
"Part of the prize package that was said to me was that you'll get 2 Maxim covers... I was really, really excited," says Tianna.
But that excitement didn't last long.
"I won, and I think that, I feel like I should have answers by now," says Tianna.
Tianna says she and the other winners are still waiting for their prize money. Getting the runaround, she reached out to Contact 13 and we went looking for answers.
"Even though I'm not contractually or legally responsible, I'm gonna do everything in my power to try and find a way to get them their money," says Michael Clark, founder of the Ultimate Bikini Championships.
"Every time I've spoken with him, he's trying to find reasons to blame other people," says Michael.
Contact 13 tried reaching out to Cougar King Entertainment, based in Massachusetts. Business records reveal the company has a local address. But when we showed up, we learned this is just a satellite office. The company only gets mail here.
All of Cougar King's representatives are evidently back East. We tried calling, but got a message telling us their mailbox is full.
They eventually responded to one of our emails, writing: "We sincerely wish we could be of more assistance to you but we have been advised not to make any comments regarding the subject matter of your story at this time."
"He clearly signed a contract knowing he was never going to pay these girls," says Michael.
As for Tianna, she's not giving up and wants to warn others.
"Make it public. Make it known so this doesn't happen to anyone else... I'm hoping that they'll see this and just know how serious this actually is," says Tianna.
Tianna and another contestant tell Contact 13 they're taking this to the next level. They're speaking with a local attorney, and plan on filing a lawsuit.
TIPS ON ENTERING A CONTEST
Thousands of girls enter these competitions every year, but the key to credibility comes with the details.
ALWAYS check for sponsors. When a big name sponsor attaches their name to something, they will do anything to protect their reputation and credibility. Beverages companies, media outlets and apparel companies are brands that you want to watch out for on advertisements.
Do your research. Find out who the host companies are. If the competition is being sponsored by an outside company who may not have a big name, then research them. Look for credible articles and contact information.
Read the fine print. Before you enter, you should be aware of the rules and regulations, and who is responsible for payment. The responsible party should have a representative at the competition.