Miss America Organization suspends CEO amid email scandal

Miss America Organization suspends CEO amid email scandal

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. — The Miss America Organization suspended its CEO on Friday, less than 24 hours after leaked emails surfaced showing him and others disparaging the appearance, intellect and sex lives of former Miss Americas.

Sam Haskell will remain suspended for an indefinite period while the organization investigates the content of the emails, their distribution within the organization, and how they came to wind up in the possession of the Huffington Post, which published them on Thursday.

“The board will be conducting an in-depth investigation into alleged inappropriate communications and the nature in which they were obtained,” the group said in a statement issued Friday evening, hours after 49 former Miss Americas signed a petition demanding the resignation of Haskell and other pageant officials.

“In addition, the board wishes to reaffirm our commitment to the education and empowerment of young women, supporting them in every way possible,” the statement read.

It did not indicate whether Haskell would be paid during his suspension. Haskell did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment.

The Huffington Post reported on the emails, including one that used a vulgar term for female genitalia to refer to past Miss America winners, one that wished that a particular former Miss America had died, and others that speculated about how many sex partners another former Miss America has had.

A petition organized by former Miss North Carolina Jennifer Vaden Barth garnered the signatures of the former Miss Americas. It called the emails by Haskell and others “despicable” and faulted officials who “sat by without objection while such derisive comments were passed around.”

“We are deeply disturbed and saddened to learn of the sickening and egregious words used by Miss America leadership,” the petition read. “We collectively call for their immediate resignation.”

Several of the emails targeted Mallory Hagan, who won the 2013 pageant, claiming she had gained weight after winning and speculating about how many men she had sex with.

“My hope is that this story that broke will bring light to the type of behaviour that’s been in leadership of the Miss America Organization and really help us put in place some people who care and who embody the mission of Miss America,” Hagan said in a Twitter video . “Having somebody bully you, demean you, degrade you in any way is not OK.”

Miss America 2016 Betty Cantrell, who signed the petition, told The Associated Press she “lived under this misogynistic leadership for a year of my life, and I’m definitely glad to see all of this evidence come into the light.”

She also said pageant officials “told me which former Miss Americas I wasn’t allowed to associate with or pose for photos with.”

In other emails, a former writer for the pageant notes the death of one former Miss America and muses that he wished 1998 Miss America Kate Shindle, who wrote a book critical of the Miss America Organization, had died instead. Haskell responded to the email, indicating it made him laugh.

And Haskell wrote of tactics that would drive 1989 Miss America Gretchen Carlson “insane.” The Huffington Post reported she had clashed with Haskell and pageant officials over her push to modernize the organization, and her refusal to attack other former Miss America winners.

On Friday, the state Casino Reinvestment Development Authority began reviewing its contract with the Miss America Organization, which has about $4 million left on it, after numerous local and state officials called for the final year of the deal to be killed.

The emails already cost the pageant its television production partner and raised questions about the future of the nationally televised broadcast from Atlantic City’s Boardwalk Hall the week after Labor Day each year. Dick Clark Productions told the AP on Thursday night that it cut ties with the Miss America Organization over the emails, calling them “appalling.”

The Huffington Post article shows that Haskell and others directed considerable attention to Hagan. He forwarded an email he had been sent regarding Hagan to a writer for the pageant, who has since been terminated.

The writer responded by questioning whether he and Haskell were part of a tiny group of people who had not had sex with Hagan.

According to the Huffington Post, Haskell replied: “It appears we are the only ones!”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

An Air Canada Boeing 737 MAX 8 jet arrives at Halifax Stanfield International Airport on Friday, April 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
Air Canada agrees to $5.9-billion aid package, giving Ottawa equity stake in airline

$1.4 billion earmarked to help reimburse thousands of customers

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau shakes hands with Yukon Premier Sandy Silver as Liberal on Wednesday February 8, 2017 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Yukon headed for minority government as two main parties in a tie

Liberals came into the election looking to build on their surprise 2016 majority win

Minister of National Defence Harjit Sajjan takes part in a year-end interview with The Canadian Press at National Defence headquarters in Ottawa on Thursday, Dec. 17, 2020. Sajjan took aim at recent Chinese military expansions into the South China Sea this evening even as he faced questions about the Liberal government’s ties to Beijing. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Sajjan targets Chinese claims in South China Sea, battles Tories over Beijing ties

HMCS Calgary shadowed for at least part of the voyage as it passed near the disputed Spratly Islands

Transport trucks approach the Canada/USA border crossing in Windsor, Ont. on Saturday, March 21, 2020. North American trade is facing a “critical moment” in the ongoing aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, say Canadian business leaders as they embark on a concerted campaign to fortify ties with the United States. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Rob Gurdebeke
Canada-U.S. trade faces ‘critical moment’ that demands urgent action, businesses warn

Will fall to Canada to ensure its best interests are represented

Two RCMP officers observe a moment of silence to honour slain Const. Heidi Stevenson and the other 21 victims of the mass killings at a checkpoint on Portapique Road in Portapique, N.S. on Friday, April 24, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
RCMP under scrutiny one year after mass killing that left 22 dead in Nova Scotia

Questions raised about why it took police 13 hours to stop mass killing

FILE-Team Canada’s Meaghan Mikkelson fights for control of the puck with U.S.A.’s Hayley Scamurra during third period of Women’s Rivalry Series hockey action in Vancouver, Wednesday, February 5, 2020. Gina Kingsbury, Hockey Canada’s director of women’s national teams, hopes a Rivalry Series against the United States can happen this winter.THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Michael Dwyer
Canadian women’s hockey team to open selection camp in Nova Scotia

Six goaltenders, 15 defenders and 26 forwards will vie for spots on Canada’s 23-player roster

FILE - Rhian Wilkinson, left, and Melissa Tancredi of Canada’s women’s soccer team attend a news conference in Vancouver, Friday, Jan. 13, 2017 to announce their retirement from the team. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Former Canadian international Rhian Wilkinson now part of England coaching setup

Wilkinson left Canada Soccer in January to join interim England head coach Hege Riise as an assistant

Canadian actor/producer/director Jay Baruchel is photographed at the 5 Drive-In Theatre in Oakville, Ont., ahead of the premier of Baruchel’s movie Random Acts of Violence, Wednesday, July 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Cole Burston
Jay Baruchel to host Amazon Prime Video’s ‘LOL: Last One Laughing Canada’

Final comedian left standing wins a grand prize for a charity of their choice

Letters
Letter: Leaders like MLA Jason Stephan should work towards greater good

Red Deer South MLA Jason Stephan talks about the devastating social and… Continue reading

Opinion
Opinion: Women, hit hardest by pandemic, key to economic recovery

Events of the past year have laid bare the many disparities and… Continue reading

Children at the Port Angeles Boys & Girls Club practice social distancing throughout the day to minimize the spreading of germs and potentially the coronavirus. Photo courtesy of the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Olympic Peninsula
Opinion: Teach young people these five principles

At all ages, young people may be the subject of mean behaviours… Continue reading

LtE bug
Letter: MLAs need to think about all Albertans

I was surprised to find more than a dozen UCP MLAs were… Continue reading

Most Read