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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 18 June 2018

Miss America president resigns after email scandal

Mr Randle said his resignation was voluntary and had not been requested by the board of the pageant, which is based in Atlantic City

Miss America 2013 Mallory Hagan, right, was denigrated by comments by officials running the competition. AP Photo/Mel Evans
Miss America 2013 Mallory Hagan, right, was denigrated by comments by officials running the competition. AP Photo/Mel Evans

The top leadership of the Miss America organisation, implicated in an email scandal that targeted past pageant winners for abuse based on their appearance, intellect and sex lives, resigned on Saturday, with the outgoing president apologising to a winner whose weight he ridiculed.

The president, Josh Randle, told The Associated Press his comment responding to an email to his private account about the physical appearance of 2013 winner Mallory Hagan came months before he started working for the Miss America Organization in 2015. But he said it was wrong.

"I apologise to Mallory for my lapse in judgment," Mr Randle said on Saturday. "It does not reflect my values or the values I worked to promote at the Miss America Organisation. Although this terrible situation was not caused or driven by me, in light of recent events and new developments, I am no longer willing to continue in my capacity as president and earlier today offered my resignation to the MAO Board of Directors."

Mr Randle said his resignation was voluntary and had not been requested by the board of Miss America, which is based in Atlantic City.

Ms Hagan did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment on the resignations. But on her Facebook page, she posted a message asking anyone who was warned away from her to come forward and send her a direct message, in what might be a precursor to legal action against the Miss America Organisation or its former officers regarding her post-Miss America work as a pageant interview coach.

"If you have ever been told to not work with me, communicate with me, hire me, etc. Will you send me a DM?" she wrote.

Mr Randle was one of three top Miss America officials to resign Saturday over the scandal, which began Thursday when the Huffington Post published leaked emails showing pageant officials ridiculing past Miss Americas, including crass and sometimes vulgar comments about them.

Mr Randle noted that the worst communications were exchanged in 2013 and 2014, years before he joined the Miss America Organisation, and said the article's implication of "complicit participation on my part in a years long array of inappropriate email communication" is untrue.

CEO Sam Haskell and Chairman Lynn Weidner also resigned on Saturday. Mr Haskell's resignation is effective immediately, while Mr Randle and Mr Weidner will remain for a few weeks to help with a leadership transition. Dan Meyers, who had been vice chairman of the board, was named interim chairman.