Miss America CEO, other leaders resign after report of derogatory emails

FILE PHOTO: Contestants await the results after competing in the swimsuit component of the 97th Miss America Competition
FILE PHOTO: Contestants await the results after competing in the swimsuit component of the 97th Miss America Competition in Atlantic City, New Jersey, U.S., September 10, 2017. REUTERS/Mark Makela/File Photo

December 24, 2017

By Alex Dobuzinskis

(Reuters) – The head of the organization that stages the Miss America beauty pageant and other leaders with the group resigned on Saturday after a report this week alleging that emails he had sent were derogatory toward past winners.

Sam Haskell’s resignation as executive chairman and chief executive of the Miss America Organization was accompanied by the departure of the organization’s president, the chairman of the board and a board member.

Haskell had been suspended on Friday, one day after a Huffington Post report about the internal emails.

The pageant has for years faced criticism that it objectifies women, and the scandal over the emails has led to renewed scrutiny of the annual event in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

“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,” Dan Meyers, interim chairman of the board, said in a statement. 

Lynn Weidner, chairman of the 96-year-old organization’s board, also resigned but will remain on the board up to 90 days to ensure a smooth transition to new leadership, Meyers said.

Josh Randle, president and COO, is also stepping down but will remain in his position temporarily, a Miss America Organization spokesman said in a statement.

On Friday, board member Tammy Haddad said in a statement she was following through on her plan to resign, effective immediately.

Haddad in emails had referred to past Miss America winners as “malcontents” and suggested hiring an investigator to look into the activities of one former winner, the Huffington Post reported.

Haddad, in an email to Reuters, said her intention in suggesting an investigation was only to discover the source of “anonymous character attacks” that had been launched on the Miss America private on-line community boards.

A representative for Haskell did not return emails on Saturday seeking comment. Weidner and Randle could not be reached for comment.

A representative for ABC, the division of the Walt Disney Co <DIS.N> that broadcasts the pageant, did not immediately return an email seeking comment.

Haskell, in a statement accompanying his suspension on Friday, said the emails cited by the Huffington Post were “conveniently edited.”

“I was under stress from a full year of attacks by two Miss Americas, and while I don’t ever want to offer an excuse, I do want to offer context,” Haskell said.

Reuters has not obtained the emails cited by the Huffington Post.

In some emails, Haskell was demeaning of previous winners of the Miss America pageant, calling one woman “huge” and “gross” and commenting on her sex life in emails he sent in 2014 and 2015, according to the Huffington Post.

Haskell made the derogatory comments about the former pageant winner’s weight in response to an email from Weidner, who attached a photo of several former Miss Americas but did not comment on the picture herself, the news website said.

Randle, responding to a 2015 email in which Haskell had written demeaningly about the former pageant winner, wrote, “She’s a healthy one!” the Huffington Post reported.

Randle, in a statement to the New York Times, said he was not working at the Miss America Organization when he replied to the email and that he had apologized to the former pageant winner for his “lapse in judgment.”

(Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis in Los Angeles; Editing by Mary Milliken, Susan Thomas and Diane Craft)

  • Mark Heinzen

    Is the huffington post the east coast version of TMZ?

  • Floridastorm

    We’re coming to a time in this country where everyone will be afraid to express any opinion, verbally or written. Many already are afraid with the rest just a few steps behind. It seems that the first amendment has been revoked and replaced with 24/7 monitored speech. You can now be arrested, assaulted,and humiliated for expressing your thoughts. You can loose your livelihood for expressing your thoughts. Does Atlas Shrugged or 1984 come to mind? Thank God I’m an old timer and don’t have to live through much more of this absurd BS.

  • deniselm

    gee I though they said Trump was the problem there……guess not…..lol

  • Liberius Lucanus

    WAAA!!!!!! Sniff! You said something I don’t like, i think I’ll cry like a baby instead of let it go in one ear and out the other!!!.

  • nomark

    If woman object to objectification, then they need to stop presenting themselves as sexual objects.

  • No Mas

    Here is a tip … Whatever you put in print will define you… If you are ok with telling your “truth” to the world, then by all means do it… If a man or woman became obese or had sex with a hundred others, and its the truth, just simply state you pointed out the obvious and let them judge you for telling the truth versus slandering the perps… lol

  • constitutiononly

    Those women volunteer for the “meat” show. No matter how loudly the feminazis screech, the show will go on until no hopeful contestants show up.

  • Fergus

    Now what I’d really like to see is the Miss BIG America pageant. Bet a bunch of those sort of bodacious beauties would certainly make some men like me drool

  • Joan

    Well it’s one thing for the general public to make comments, but if you happen to be on the board of directors of the show and make such comments then I think it is highly inappropriate. They both should know better, at least have sense enough not to send them in emails! Haven’t we all learned by now not to do that!

  • Arnold Maize

    Like Judge Milian says, “write it regret it, say it forget it”

  • let’s just get rid of this pageant. It is open to all races and colors and creeds. BUT, the Miss Black America is not open to whites. Hmmmmm. This sort of junk needs to END

    • No Mas

      I approve of racist affirmative action programs on tv, in us government and anywhere… Shut them down, do not support!

  • Impaler

    Women love to look sexy,but if you dare look at them or comment on their boobs or ass, you are a pervert and are guilty of sexual harassment. Shut down this whole pageant since the women cant seem to wrap their heads around reality. Just get rid of it.

    • Fergus

      Well put. Women want things both ways, and actually think they have a right to be treated both ways. What they forget is they still got body odor that can’t be covered up no matter how hard they try.

    • Arnold Maize

      They get breast augmentation and then get mad if you stare or make a remark. There are a lot of man haters out there.

  • facevalue

    I always thought women loved to be objectified. The object of our love…….

    • Arnold Maize

      Not if they are in the “Misandry Club”. (man haters)

  • john smith

    Who gives a crap!!!!!

  • PlumbGenius

    Who cares! It is amazing that the Miss America pageant is dominating the news. Especially in this politically nation of ours.