Fourty-nine former Miss America queens are calling for the resignation of multiple organization leaders after CEO Sam Haskell sent disturbing emails about them and other contestants.
A report by Huffington Post Thursday described several internal emails written by Haskell in which he fat-shamed and slut-shamed previous pageant winners and wrote a death wish against one.
Former Miss America Kate Shindle, who was the subject of that morbid wish, responded to the evidence in a statement on Twitter, sharing her experience and calling for the full Board of Directors to resign.
“Today, I read that a member of the production wished I were dead, and that Executive Chairman and CEO Sam Haskell laughed about it,” Shindle began. “I read that Board of Directors conspired to change the rules of the rules of the competition specifically to destroy another Miss America's business. I read that that same board passed around photos to email each other degrading comments about Miss America's body.”
“I read that Haskell, who has described himself as 'Gomer Pyle in a suit' and just yesterday retweeted a quote which reads 'no act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted' thinks that it's perfect to refer to the women of this program as 'c--ts.' It makes me physically ill,” she added.
Shindle, who won the title in 1998, recalled her own experience as overwhelmingly positive. She said the Miss America Organization still holds “relevance and purpose” and that it should continue to serve as an empowering not-for-profit organization.
However, some things would need to change.
“In order to achieve that purpose, the entire Board of Directors must immediately resign, including and especially Sam Haskell. Only then can the women of Miss America reclaim its rich history and catalyze what is a clearly necessary evolution,” she concluded.
Another former Miss America title holder, 1989 winner Gretchen Carlson, has also spoken out following the controversial email scandal, calling some of the statements made against her and others “disgusting.”
"As a proud former Miss America and former member of the Board of the Miss America Organization, I am shocked and deeply saddened by the disgusting statements about women attributed to the leadership of the MAO. No woman should be demeaned with such vulgar slurs. #ResignNow," she shared on Twitter.
Carlson called for multiple high-level members to step down for their reported knowledge of the emails’ existence and failure to reprimand the offending men.
"Every MAO executive & board member who engaged in such crude behavior & signed off on it like it was no big deal should resign immediately. The MAP which is tasked to uphold an almost 100 year old tradition of female empowerment & scholarship, deserves better. I hope all former Miss Americas, state and local titleholders and volunteers will join me in a collective effort to fight for the dignity of this great institution,” Carlson added.
Following the controversy, Dick Clark Productions, which has produced Miss America’s nationally televised broadcast since 2014, revealed it has terminated its relationship with the organization following its knowledge of the “unacceptable” emails.
All in all, 49 former Miss America winners have signed an open letter within 24 hours, calling for the resignation of CEO Sam Haskell, Miss America President Josh Randle, board Chair Lynn Weidner and board member Tammy Haddad.
Haddad resigned after the letter’s publication, saying “the women who put their hopes and dreams into this program are the best of America.”
Photo credit: Getty / Lou Rocco / Contributor