Miss America CEO Sam Haskell Resigns After His Sexist Emails About Contestants Were Exposed

Sexist emails insulting Miss America contestants written by the pageant’s CEO, Sam Haskell, were published in a Thursday report by HuffPost. On Saturday, after suspending Haskell on Friday, Miss America’s board of directors revealed in a statement that he had resigned:

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 Board of Directors also accepted the resignation of Chairman Lynn Weidner.  At the Board’s request, Ms. Weidner has agreed to remain on the Board for up to ninety days to facilitate a smooth transition for the MAO to new leadership.

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.

In addition to Haskell, three others involved with the Miss America Organization resigned for making misogynistic comments in the emails HuffPost publicized.

One message by Lewis Friedman, a lead writer for the pageant, referred to former Miss America winners as “c*nts.” Huffpost obtained thousands of emails spanning a three-year period, and Friedman apparently sent Haskell messages containing sexist and unprofessional content on a regular basis; Haskell would respond to the emails approvingly, often finding them funny.

Haskell regularly went after former winners of the pageant by slut-shaming, fat-shaming, and labeling them “malcontents.” In a 2014 email, he described a group of previous Miss Americas as a “pile of malcontents and has beens who blame the program for not getting them where they think they can go.”

After HuffPost’s report, 56 winners of the pageant called for the removal of Haskell and other top-level employees guilty of misogyny against contestants.

This is not the first time Miss America contestants have been hit with sexism. After Vanessa Williams became the first African American woman to be crowned Miss America in 1983, she was stripped of the honor after Penthouse Magazine published nude photographs of her without her permission.

Haskell formally apologized on the pageant’s behalf to Williams in 2015 and re-crowned her in a telecast.

Image: ABC 7 Sarasota