Two of the most powerful members of the Miss America Organization have stepped down from their posts in the wake of an embarrassing email scandal that saw their catty and degrading comments about former contestants go public.
Both Miss America CEO Sam Haskell and president Josh Randle tendered their resignations on Saturday, the New York Daily News reported. They were joined in stepping down by fellow board members Tammy Haddad and Chairman Lynn Weidner, who also found themselves at the center of a firestorm of controversy thanks to the emails.
“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 organization told the Daily News in an email.
“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.”
The emails came to light in a bombshell report from the Huffington Post, which combed through years’ worth of internal Miss America Organization emails and uncovered a slew of disparaging remarks directed at former contestants.
Haskell, Randle, Weidner, Haddad, and MAO writer Lewis Friedman gossiped about former contestants’ private sex lives and made crude comments about their appearances. One such target was 2013 winner Mallory Hagan.
“OMG she is huge… and gross… why does he want that???” Haskell wrote in an email, to which Randle replied: “She’s a healthy one!! Hahaha.” Haddad chimed in that Hagan was “barely recognizable.”
“Ps. Are we four the only ones not to have f****d Mallory?” Friedman wondered in an email, to which Haskell replied, “It appears we are the only ones!”
Some emails also targeted Gretchen Carlson, the former Fox News anchor who won the pageant in 1989. Haddad blasted her as a “snake” for refusing to attack pageant winner Kate Shindle, who released a book critical of the MAO and its leadership.
“Those who know my heart know that this is not indicative of my character, nor is it indicative of my business acumen,” Haskell said on Friday, when he accepted a suspension but declared he would not resign. “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.”