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July 08, 2018

Miss America board members resign following new pageant policies

Miss America Atlantic City
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Miss America 2018 Cara Mund takes the traditional "Toe Dip" in the surf at Atlantic City Beach.

Just one month after the Miss America Organization announced its annual Atlantic City-based competition will stop including the swimsuit and evening gown competitions, proclaiming contestants would no longer be judged by looks, nearly half of the organization's board has resigned.

Gretchen Carlson, a former Miss America winner and the current chairwoman of the organization, announced the changes on "Good Morning America" last month, saying, "We are no longer a pageant. We are a competition."


RELATED: The Miss America competition no longer includes a swimsuit segment


She continued, "It's going to be what comes out of their mouth that we're interested in, when they talk about their social impact initiatives."

Now the Wall Street Journal reports that nearly half of the Miss America board has either quit or been forced to resign. A reported 22 state pageant leaders are trying to oust Carlson altogether.

Some individuals now parted with the organization claim there was pressure to eradicate the swimsuit competition or risk the pageant not being televised at all. The organization issued a statement saying this was inaccurate and that such a binary decision never existed. In a public statement, the organization said the vote to eliminate the swimsuit competition was approved in March, two months after signing a deal with ABC. The network claims it "had nothing to do" with the competition's new direction.

Other organization insiders, however, allege that there had been growing pressure to nix the looks-based format and that no major network would agree to air a swimsuit competition in the #MeToo era.

In a statement issued Saturday, 29 former Miss America winners voiced support for the changes that Carlson spearheaded, while dozens of others did not sign on.

In a private Facebook group, two former Miss Americas and members of a nine-person board announced their resignation, citing a toxic culture, while two other members and former Miss Americas claimed they forced to resign.

Winners of state pageants leading to the Miss America competition are now preparing for the national pageant with newly released criteria, issued from the organization Thursday.