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Tiara in Turmoil: Behind America's Beauty Competition

September 09, 2018 10:49 PM

(ABC 6 News) -- A new Miss America has officially been crowned. Miss New York, Nia Franklin has been named 2019 Miss America in pageant's first swimsuit-less competition in its 98-year history.

Some on the outside may call it a picture perfect pageant, women from all across the United States vying for the chance to become Miss America.

But this past year has been dramatically different.

Minnesota native and former Miss America winner Gretchen Carlson was appointed as chairwoman of the organization this year.

Holding true to her word she made big changes, eliminating the swimsuit competition and reframing its reputation, “I have so many great ideas for this organization. We will no longer judge our candidates on their outward physical appearance,” Carlson said earlier this year in an interview.

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Just weeks before the start of the competition, former Miss America Cara Mund accused the organization of bullying, saying Carlson and CEO Regina Hopper "systematically silenced me, reduced me, and marginalized me."

Days before Miss Minnesota, Michaelene Karlen left for the competition, we asked her about the allegations.

“I was actually very confused. I haven't seen any of that [bullying] myself, so I think that the main thing to keep in mind is that we need to hear both sides of the story and that time will tell,” Karlen said.

23 former Miss Americas are now calling for Carlson and the Miss America organization board of trustees and CEO to step down.

Miss Minnesota says it didn't surprise her.

“I think everyone has their own opinion and their own way of dealing with things like this. Personally, I like to wait it out and make sure I know exactly what's going on and I know what's happened with the full story,” said Karlen.
 
Carlson denied the allegations before the start of the competition, addressing Mund directly in a statement, saying "I have never bullied or silenced you.”

As for the future of Miss America, Karlen hopes respect and communication go hand in hand. “I personally feel like it's so sad to see so many people upset over this. I really hope that our organization can come together, and everyone can come together in a positive direction. I just think we all need to get on the same page and that we can all agree to the same thing and want this organization to do great things in the future.” 

Credits

Noelle Anderson

Copyright 2019 - KAAL-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company

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