Interest in former Miss Universe Alicia Machado spiked 5,380% in the last week after Hillary Clinton name-checked her at the first presidential debate because Donald Trump called her "Miss Piggy" after weight gain and "Miss Housekeeping" because she was Latina.
The story was fanned the morning after the debate because Trump doubled down on his comments in an interview on Fox and Friends.
“She was the worst we ever had, the worst, she was impossible,” Trump said of the 1996 beauty queen. "She was the winner and you know, she gained a massive amount of weight and it was a real problem."
The Clinton campaign took advantage of interest in the Venezuelan Machado's story, releasing an ad in Spanish in which she tells her story of being afraid of Trump and humiliated by him when he invited reporters to come see her work out. Machado also took part in a Clinton campaign call with reporters the day after the debate.
“He always treated me like nothing, like trash, and now his face [during the debate] was like, ‘This trash is coming back,’” Machado said on the call.
The attention and Trump's response have given the story legs and Machado is even outpacing internet favorite Kim Kardashian, with more people searching for Machado than the reality TV star since the debate, according to Google.
Two of the top searches related to Machado refer to him calling her "Miss Piggy" and another concerns accusations from 1998 that she once drove a getaway car after her then boyfriend shot someone and that she made a threat against the judge in the case. (Machado was not charged.)
“You know, I have my past. Of course, everybody has a past," Machado told CNN's Anderson Cooper Tuesday night. "I’m not a saint girl. But that is not the point now."
Trump could not help responding to Clinton's taunts during the debate Monday and in firing back at Machado the next morning on cable television, displayed just the latest example of his tendency to attack non-politicians when he feels slighted.
He went after the Mexican-American judge overseeing his Trump University fraud case and, perhaps most damaging to his standing in the polls at the time, was critical of Khizr Khan and his wife, the gold star parents of an American soldier who was killed in Iraq.
Using the universal metric of internet popularity, Khan never passed Kardashian in Google search popularity, however, which Machado has.
After introducing Machado's story during the debate, Clinton continued.
“Donald, she has a name. Her name is Alicia Machado, and she has become a US citizen. And you can bet she’s going to vote this November,” she finished.
Adrian Carrasquillo is the White House correspondent for BuzzFeed News and is based in Washington, DC.
Contact Adrian Carrasquillo at email@example.com.
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