Last night, the Huffington Post released an article detailing many vulgar and inappropriate emails sent between members of the Board of Directors, CEO Sam Haskell and a former telecast writer Lewis Friedman. Today, the Board of Directors will see a day of reckoning as former and current Miss America titleholders rise up and demand their resignation. (Read: How to Manage Pageant People Who Drain Your Energy)
About the emails
The Huffington Post article revealed emails from 2013 to 2015 which depict the treatment of former Miss America titleholders generally and three titleholders in particular, Miss America 2013 Mallory Hagan, Miss America 1998 Kate Shindle, and Miss America 1989 Gretchen Carlson.
The emails target the weight and sexual history of Hagan during and after her reign as Miss America 2013. Haskell’s fixation on Hagan allegedly stemmed from one of his staff members choosing to date Hagan instead of his daughter. The emails even imply that the coaching ban for Miss America contestants was put in place to harm Hagan’s pageant coaching business.
Shindle and Carlson became targets of members of the Miss America Organization after criticizing the amount Haskell is paid by the organization and refusing to tear down other Miss Americas. (Read the full story here: Miss America CEO Targets Former Miss Americas In Organization Emails)
As a result of the emails, former Miss America titleholders are enraged, Lewis Friedman has been fired, Senators are calling for Atlantic City to terminate its relationship with the Miss America Organization and Dick Clark Productions has cut all connections with the Miss America Organization.
About the Miss Americas collective response
Miss Americas dating back to Miss America 1955 are enraged by the behavior of Sam Haskell and complacency of the Board of Directors which allowed this behavior to continue. Collectively, 49 former Miss Americas have made a statement on a Miss America Fan Page, Pageant Junkies regarding these emails and have demanded for the Board of Directors to resign immediately.
“The behavior of Miss America Organization leadership, specifically Sam Haskell, Josh Randle, Tammy Haddad and Lynn Weidner, is deplorable, as well as those who sat by while such derisive comments were passed around and didn’t object,” the former titleholders stated. “We collectively call for their immediate resignation. We also ask for those who revere the Miss America legacy to join us in preserving the integrity of the Miss America Organization and in support of all women.”
The past titleholders have also started a petition for leadership change within the Miss America Organization. They are calling on all past titleholders and volunteers of the organization to sign a statement via GoogleForms to demand the resignation of all those involved in the scandal and commit to the values of the Miss America Organization. (Sign the petition here!)
About Mallory Hagan’s interview
While there are many voices from titleholders past and current, none speak quite as loudly as Hagan. She was the major target of Haskell and Friedman in the emails from 2013 to 2015. Last night, she tearfully posted an update to her Instagram story and announced that she would be appearing this morning on the Today Show. This morning she and Shindle appeared on the Today Show to comment on the unfolding story. (Read: How to Prepare for a Live TV Interview)
“When I first read the emails in the article, I wasn’t shocked but I was validated,” Hagan said in her interview with the Today Show. “For the longest time, I’ve tried to explain to people around me that this was happening…”
“Every single one of the people who participated in that type of conversation needs to go,” Shindle said in an interview with the Today Show.
Seeing the former titleholders affected by these emails is absolutely heartbreaking but, all the strong women who have held local, state and national Miss America titles, are rising up and demanding action from the Miss America Organization. Will they respond accordingly or let this define the entire organization?
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