The mother of a losing contestant in the Miss Rhode Island USA contest injured the emcee when she rushed the stage and battled for the microphone, charging the pageant was fixed, police said.
"Something snapped," said Gail Giuliano of North Providence, whose daughter, Donna, was named second runner-up at Sunday's pageant.
After hearing Donna Silva, 19, of Cranston, named the winner, Mrs. Giuliano stormed the stage and wrestled emcee Elizabeth Covel for the microphone, officials said.
Cathy Allaire, the mother of first runner-up Chrissy Allaire, ran to the judges' table and demanded to see the ballots.
"There was total chaos," one judge said. "I thought it was going to get to fisticuffs. It was frightening."
Covel suffered torn ligaments in three fingers of her right hand and various sprains in her battle for the microphone.
Covel, who said she will miss at least three weeks of work because of the injuries, filed a police complaint against Mrs. Giuliano.
Mrs. Giuliano and Mrs. Allaire said they heard prior to the vote that the contest was fixed for Silva to win.
Deborah Neary, Miss Massachusetts USA in 1984 and director of the Rhode Island pageant, denied the accusations, attributing them to "sour grapes."