Update, December 23: Sam Haskell, CEO and Josh Randall, COO have both resigned from the Miss American Organization, as has board member Lynne Weidner, HuffPost reports. In a statement, Dan Meyers, the new interim chairman, told HuffPost that "This afternoon, the Board of Directors of the Miss America Organization accepted the resignation of Executive Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Sam Haskell, effective immediately. The Board of Directors also accepted the resignation of Chairman Lynn Weidner. At the Board’s request, Ms. Weidner has agreed to remain on the Board for up to ninety days to facilitate a smooth transition for the MAO to new leadership.
The Board thanks Lynn and Sam for many years of tireless work for, and significant financial support to, both the Miss America Organization and thousands of young women who received millions of dollars of educational scholarships from the Organization as a direct result of their efforts."
This story was originally published on December 22, 2017.
49 former Miss America winners have signed a letter demanding the resignation of the pageant's top leadership, following yesterday's exposé in the HuffPost. Journalist Yashar Ali posted emails in which the chief executive, Sam Haskell, and other top executives routinely slut-shamed, fat-shamed, and demeaned the former contestants with vulgar and misogynistic language.
The group of winners who signed the letter includes former Fox News anchor Gretchen Carlson, who has been vocal about issues surrounding sexual harassment after publicly alleging that former Fox News chief Roger Ailes harassed her when she worked for the network. Other crowned Miss Americas calling for the resignations include Savvy Shields, the 2017 winner, and BeBe Shopp Waring, who was crowned in 1948 and is the oldest signature on the letter.
In the letter, the Miss Americas are demanding that Sam Haskell, Josh Randle, Tammy Haddad, and Lynn Weider resign from their positions as top executives and board members. The Dick Clark Productions company has ended their partnership with the Miss America organization following publication of the emails.
The letter reads, in part:
"As dedicated members of communities, businesses and families, and ambassadors for the Miss America program across the country, we stand firmly against harassment, bullying and shaming — especially of women — through the use of derogatory terms meant to belittle and demean. As Miss Americas, we strongly reject the mischaracterizations of us both collectively and individually. We also reject the ongoing efforts to divide our sisterhood and the attempts to pit us against one another."
In a statement to HuffPost, the Miss Universe Organization said that "The Board has full confidence in the Miss America Organization leadership team. In addition, the Board wishes to reaffirm our commitment to the education and empowerment of young women, supporting them in every way possible."