Miss America suspends CEO in email flap; more are on the way
ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) — 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 said he will abide by the suspension, even while decrying the Huffington Post story on Thursday that publicized the emails as “unkind and untrue.”
“My mistake is a mistake of words,” Haskell wrote in a statement issued Friday night, shortly after the board suspended him indefinitely while it investigates the situation. “Much of what was reported is dishonest, deceptive, and despicable.
“The story is so unkind and untrue, and hurts me, my family, and the stewardship of this nonprofit,” he wrote. “Those who know my heart know that this is not indicative of my character, nor is it indicative of my business acumen.”
Yashar Ali, who wrote the Huffington Post article, defended its accuracy Friday night, saying he was given the emails by two sources “who felt that Mr. Haskell’s behavior was egregious.” Ali said he now plans to publish all the emails he received in a future story.
The Miss America Organization said its board “will be conducting an in-depth investigation into alleged inappropriate communications and the nature in which they were obtained.”
The statement came hours after 49 former Miss Americas signed a petition demanding the resignation of Haskell and other pageant officials, as did more than 1,600 state and local titleholders, contestants and pageant volunteers.
The Miss America Organization did not indicate whether Haskell would be paid during his suspension.
The emails included 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.
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.