“Tomorrow when you go to school unmasked, your heart’s gonna be racing and you’re gonna be nervous. But I want you to know you’re doing the right thing. Don’t ever, ever question it,” former Miss USA 2009 first runner-up Carrie Prejean Boller says in one of her Instagram Stories to a young girl in a Def Leppard graphic T-shirt, holding her shoulders and staring deeply into her eyes.
“OK,” the girl says chirpily.
“You’re a leader,” Prejean Boller says, continuing to hold the child’s gaze. “You’re the next Rosa Parks. You’re the next Martin Luther King. This is so important that you stand.”
The video is part of a series on Prejean Boller’s Instagram, where she has a little more than 11,000 followers, encouraging people to defy indoor mask policies and go mask-free in big-box stores in exchange for money. In this series, Prejean Boller and fellow anti-mask activist Patrice Reynolds, who identify themselves as the “muzzle-free patrol,” stand in front of a Target sign mandating face coverings indoors before going up to people who are not wearing masks inside Target and giving them $1 bills.
In one of the Stories, which appears to be staged, a mother sardonically explains that she and her children decided to go to Target without wearing masks because they were inspired by Gov. Gavin Newsom, who was recently photographed maskless at the Rams-49ers game. (Newsom has said he only took the mask off for photos.) Prejean Boller and Reynolds then distribute “muzzle-free thank yous” to the children in the form of $1 bills. “We’re empowering those who are brave and willing to stand for freedom,” Prejean Boller says in the video before referring to the children as “little patriots.” She later gives a dollar bill to a little boy in a shopping cart who appears to be about two years old, “for not wearing a muzzle.”
Prejean Boller first achieved notoriety in 2009, when she competed as Miss California in the national Miss USA pageant, placing first runner-up. In response to a question about same-sex marriage posed by one of the judges, Prejean said that while she believed it was “great that Americans are able to choose one way or the other” — referring to traditional marriage as “opposite marriage” — she believed “that marriage should be between a man and a woman.” Her answer, which Prejean has stated she believes cost her the crown, went viral, and was later defended by Donald Trump (who then owned the Miss Universe system, which operated Miss USA). Newsom himself, despite his own pro-same-sex marriage views, also defended Prejean at the time, saying she “spoke her conscience.”
Prejean Boller later lost her crown after pageant organizers investigated her for breach of contract, due to her failure to make required appearances on behalf of the Miss California USA organization. The investigation also determined she had taken nude photos prior to the competition, though Trump at the time said he had determined the photos did not violate Prejean Boller’s contract. She later sued the pageant for libel, slander and religious discrimination, alleging that the Miss USA organization had attempted to discourage her from speaking out about her religious views prior to making the same-sex marriage comments. The suit was later settled.
In recent years, Prejean Boller, who is married to former NFL quarterback Kyle Boller, has made it back in the news with her stance on Covid-19 restrictions, specifically masks. Last August, a video of her at a San Diego school board meeting ranting about masks went viral and was reposted by far-right pundit Dan Bongino. In the clip, Prejean Boller says, “I’m a mama bear and I know there’s a lot of mama bears here tonight, and no one’s gonna mess with our cubs… And tonight I’m simply here to tell you to unmask our children. We’re done begging. In fact, we’re done asking for permission. We are gonna be unmasking our children today.” She threatened to campaign against school board members who were in favor of mandatory mask policies in schools, stating, “I will make sure that none of you ever serve in a public space ever again.”
When reached for comment, Boller questioned the need for children to wear masks in the first place. “Can you let me know the ‘positivity’ and ‘daily case’ numbers for Americans under age 18 as well as the current Covid-related risks for that age group? Can you provide any statistically significant data showing the benefits of children wearing medical or cloth masks,” she asked, adding, “We’re following in Gov Gavin Newsom’s footsteps. The game is over.” (In California, people under 18 comprise 18.3 percent of positive Covid-19 cases, according to Jan. 26 state health department data.)
In an Instagram post after this story went live, Prejean Boller called this story “fake news” and “factually wrong,” objecting to our characterization of her paying people at department stores to take their masks off, rather than just rewarding people for going unmasked. On her Stories, there is a video of her offering a $5 bill to a woman who then takes her mask off.
On Instagram, Prejean Boller, has pivoted to campaigning against masks and Covid-19 restrictions, with a healthy dash of AIDSphobia for good measure. In an Instagram Story from yesterday, she reposted a tweet from another account showing Gov. Gavin Newsom posing with former NBA player Magic Johnson at the Rams-49ers game. “HIV positive guy can be around 80,000 people unmasked while hugging @GavinNewsom, but six year olds must be masked in school. Evil tyrants,” the tweet reads.
According to her Stories, Prejean Boller has been speaking at conservative rallies, hobnobbing with far-right influencers like Lauren Boebert and Madison Cawthorn at Mar-a-Lago, and, with Reynolds, has been actively campaigning for people to violate mask policies at big-box stores. In a video from three weeks ago, they went into a Home Goods in Encinitas, California, giving the “muzzle-free” (adult) shoppers $5 bills with smiley faces on them and offering money to people to take off their masks. “I love seeing all the normal people who do not comply with tyranny!” she said in a caption. She also regularly films herself harassing salespeople at Apple and Barnes and Noble who attempt to enforce mask policies, giving a staff member at the latter a copy of The Constitution for Dummies.
There are currently 75,000 daily cases of Covid-19 in California, according to data from the state public health department. In San Diego County specificially, there have been 686,003 cumulative Covid-19 cases and 4,665 deaths.
Wed. Feb. 2: This story has been updated to include additional comment from Prejean Boller.