Sandro Cavegn, a 27-year-old resident of Rapperswil, was named winner of the televised pageant on Saturday after viewers voted by phone.
The dark-haired, green-eyed Cavegn, who speaks all four of Switzerland’s national languages, seemed to be a popular choice as winner of the competition, which aired on Zurich’s 3+ private television station.
But detractors are claiming the winner promoted his candidacy through the Dieci pizza business in Rapperswil, where he is managing director.
In the run-up to the competition, the company enclosed fliers with every pizza it delivered promoting the chances of the 179-centimetre-tall bachelor .
The flyer also offered prizes worth 20,000 francs for those who sent SMS votes on Cavegn’s behalf.
The self-promotion scheme drew criticism from rivals and former competitors.
“Mister Switzerland should be a relaxed guy who does not pay for the title with a business plan,” Renzo Blumenthal, 35, Mister Switzerland 2005, told the Blick.ch website.
Cavegn maintains that he did “nothing illegal” and that the pageant organizers knew all along about his activities to win support.
He said he did not use his own money for the promotion, which was financed by two of his sponsors.
But runners-up were unhappy to learn of the scheme.
“The strategy of Sandro was not fair play, but it was intelligent,” finalist Lavdrim Sylejmani told Blick.
“For me his advertising campaign left a bitter taste.”
The controversy arose after the Mister Switzerland competition was broadcast for the first time by 3+.
The Swiss Broadcasting Corporation decided against hosting the event because of past low audience ratings.
Organizers already pulled the plug this year on the Miss Switzerland pageant for lack of interest.
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