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October 09, 2018

Miss America Organization threatens probation, termination for states against new policies, leadership

Pennsylvania's Chet Welch has reportedly been terminated

Business Miss America
miss america atlantic city MJT/AdMedia/SIPA USA

Nia Franklin, Miss America 2019, poses for a photo on the Atlantic City Beach. The 2020 edition of the Miss America competition will be held in Connecticut instead of its longtime New Jersey home.

Though this year's Miss America pageant is behind us, discord within the organization is on the rise as more than a dozen state officials face probation or termination for not supporting the organization's new policies or leadership.

Turmoil has been bubbling publicly within the organization for the last few months, most notably beginning when the pageant head, former Fox News host Gretchen Carlson, announced that the swimsuit segment would no longer be part of the competition. A number of Miss America officials within the organization, as well as former contestants and pageant winners, voiced their dislike for the new measures.

In the months since the announcement, ongoing reports have hinted at growing battles within the organization that go beyond the swimsuit disagreement, however. Now, according to the Associated Press, the MAO is terminating the licenses of at least four "rebellious" states, including Pennsylvania's Chet Welch, and threatening 15 with probation. The states with terminated licenses must replace its current leaders.

Though the unrest within the Miss America Organization became more public following the elimination of the swimsuit segment, state officials claim that disagreement was brewing ever since the new leadership, including Carlson and CEO Regina Hopper, began running the organization in January.

Other states reportedly terminated, in addition to Pennsylvania, include Georgia, West Virginia, and at least one more unnamed state.

Once a state organization is terminated, it must hand over scholarship funds and can no longer claim to be affiliated with the national organization.

In the lead up to this year's competition, 46 of the 51 pageant organizations had called on Carlson and Hopper to resign. The outgoing Miss America, Cara Mund of North Dakota, wrote a public letter describing alleged marginalization and bullying from the organization's leaders.


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