One-on-one with former Miss America @ItsMalloryHagan after leaked email scandal: “I hope that this is a turning point…an opportunity to see how women can come together support each other, rise up.” pic.twitter.com/Ctcp0VOTwg— Good Morning America (@GMA) December 26, 2017
Days after an email scandal shook the pageant world, former Miss America Mallory Hagan stepped out to address the controversy head-on, calling for a “reinvention” of the 96-year-old organization.
The Huffington Post first exposed the leaked emails Thursday, revealing degrading messages about former contestants sent between now-former CEO Sam Haskell and various board members. In them, they mocked women’s weight, love lives and intelligence, and even expressed a death wish for one woman.
Of those slut-shamed and fat-shamed competitors was Hagan, who earned the crown in 2013. Though she said she never personally experienced derogatory comments during her time with the organization, she sometimes heard comments made about past Miss America winners.
“I didn’t put two and two together in that moment, but hindsight is always 20/20,” Hagan said during a Good Morning America appearance Tuesday.
Following the controversy and a petition signed by more than 49 former Miss America queens, Haskwell submitted a resignation on Saturday, and former president and COO Josh Randle and Chairman Lynn Weidner also resigned from their positions in the organization.
Despite the mass turnover within the organization, Hagan is optimistic that these changes will spark a “turning point” for Miss America.
"I think there's a lot of conversation that's been happening behind the scenes, for many years from all of us former [Miss Americas] about things that we would like to see change and unfortunately, the leadership that was in place was simply not open to it," she said.
"Now we have an open door for former Miss Americas, for long-term volunteers, for former state titleholders to come together and really put together some ideas in order to help, not just the pageant that you see on the telecast, but the day-to-day lives of these state titleholders,” the former pageant winner added.
Hagan was mentioned in several crude emails sent between Haskell, Friedman and other executives in the Miss America organization.
“Mallory’s preparing for her new career… as a blimp in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade," Friedman wrote in an email. He concluded by asking: "Are we four the only ones not to have (slept with) Mallory?”
Haskell responded with “It appears we are the only ones!”
Following their resignations, Hagan says it’s time to look past their wrongdoings and instead work toward building a better organization without them.
"At this point, those people are no longer affiliated with Miss America and what we really want to focus on is how we’re going to move forward in the future,” she said.
Photo credit: Instagram / @itsmalloryhagan