Why Angelea Preston Was Disqualified From 'ANTM'

'America's Next Top Model' contestant was said to have been an escort

2018 American Music Awards - Arrivals
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The ending of Cycle 17 of "America's Next Top Model" was shocking even to longtime viewers accustomed to the show's often controversial and salacious plot twists. The all-stars season ended with Angelea Preston, the model tapped to win the season, suddenly disqualified. As a result, the Cycle 17 finale was hastily reshot, and show creator Tyra Banks announced to viewers that Preston was out after violating "ANTM" rules.

Rumors Swirled After 'ANTM' Filmed New Finale

The awkward new finale, which named Lisa D'Amato as the winner, signaled to viewers that something strange had occurred. Immediately, the Internet swarmed with speculation about why Preston got the boot. The theories included that:

  • She had prematurely bragged on Facebook about winning.
  • Show host Tyson Beckford had announced her win before the finale.
  • She was pregnant.
  • She had abused drugs or alcohol.

Preston's Difficult Road to Top Contestant

From the beginning, Preston wasn't the typical top model. The biracial beauty and scrappy underdog, called “ghetto” during her first stint on "ANTM," once slept in the Port Authority waiting for a callback and had survived the death of her first child. Deeply combative, she had fought hard to win Cycle 14, her first appearance on "ANTM." Although she didn't come out on top that season, Preston got a second chance as an all-star on Cycle 17.

Preston's Win Taken Away

In the Cycle 17 finale, Angelea clearly was the winner, beating out the other finalists, D’Amato and Allison Harvard, for the $100,000 prize before suddenly being disqualified. After the ending was reshot, Banks awarded the top prize instead to D'Amato. The CW network issued a press release saying it learned of the disqualifying information about Preston after the show wrapped.

Preston Sues Host Tyra Banks

Eventually, fans got some answers when Preston sued Banks and the producers of "America’s Next Top Model," claiming that she was disqualified because she had earlier worked as an escort. Preston claimed she had previously told producers about her yearlong job as an escort—which ended before filming began—but apparently was grilled about her escort work by show staff after the original finale taped. Preston has argued that she was a legal escort and not a prostitute, but in either event, show sponsors were likely concerned.

Preston's lawsuit, filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, argued that because she worked as an escort before being cast on "ANTM," she was still entitled to the prizes she won before the judges yanked her title. Those prizes included a spread in Vogue Italia magazine and a $100,000 contract with Cover Girl. Her lawsuit asked for $3 million for breach of contract, infliction of emotional distress, and other claims.

Preston's Other Charges

Additionally, she alleged that "ANTM" failed to provide appropriate meal and rest breaks for contestants when filming for up to 16 hours at a time. She said that contestants worked every day for six continuous weeks without any days of rest. The lawsuit also alleged that the producers intentionally withheld treatment for at least 10 minutes when Preston suffered an anxiety attack.

A judge eventually ordered arbitration.