August 20, 2018
The drama surrounding the Miss America competition has come to yet another head, just weeks before the 2019 competition in Atlantic City.
Reigning Miss America, Cara Mund, of North Dakota, has publicly aired her grievances with the organization, saying the pageant's leadership — notably CEO Regina Hopper and Chairwoman Gretchen Carlson — "reduced me, marginalized me, and essentially erased me in my role as Miss America in subtle and not-so-subtle ways on a daily basis.”
Mund claims Hopper and Carlson punished her for initially speaking out to the Press of Atlantic City and routinely silenced her opinions, excluded her from meetings and media appearances, reminded her that she was dispensable, and prevented her from posting to her social media accounts.
Sunday morning, Carlson, a former Miss America winner, released a defensive statement on Twitter, saying Mund's accusations were unfounded and had already cost the organization thousands of dollars.
"You are at the epicenter of a very historic moment for women," her statement read. "Cara, you have the opportunity to be at the forefront of real, positive change for young women across this country. I'm so hopeful you'll be part of that."
Please see my statement in full below pic.twitter.com/rvmee4es7g— Gretchen Carlson (@GretchenCarlson) August 20, 2018
Now, 11 other former Miss America winners have joined Mund in calling for Carlson and Hopper to resign before the upcoming competition. It joins another letter signed by 22 state pageant directors who say the organization is using "the same old tactics of obfuscation and fear-based governance."
But there's another camp of Miss Americas who signed a letter of support for Carlson and Hopper.
FULL INTERVIEW: "It's never the wrong time to do the right thing."— Good Morning America (@GMA) August 20, 2018
Former Miss America, Caressa Cameron-Jackson one-on-one with @paulafaris as she calls for pageant leaders to resign: https://t.co/0wZJnpowI9 pic.twitter.com/9rKlTwkO4n
This has certainly been an explosive year for the organization.
Last December, HuffPost leaked emails from the organization's leadership, showing the CEO using vulgar language to mock contestants. Carlson and Hopper were brought in to replace them and shortly after eliminated the swimsuit portion of the competition, along with the evening gown segment, which stirred up controversy with board members and pageant officials.
"It's going to be what comes out of their mouth that we're interested in, when they talk about their social impact initiatives," Carlson said on Good Morning America on Monday morning.
JUST IN: "We will no longer judge our candidates on their outward physical appearance. That's huge. And that means we will no longer have a swimsuit competition." - @GretchenCarlson on the major changes coming to @MissAmericaOrg https://t.co/ICRIsRN71h pic.twitter.com/IWKcVvCC50— Good Morning America (@GMA) June 5, 2018
The 2018 pageant will take place Sept. 9 at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City following three nights of preliminary competition from Sept. 5-7. You can watch the show at 9 p.m. on ABC.