The Miss America Organization (MAO) suspended CEO Sam Haskell Friday, one day after the HuffPost broke a story revealing three years of internal emails that have not made former pageant contestants happy. Provided by two unidentified sources, the internal documents between Haskell, board members, and others crudely referenced past winners’ bodies, sex lives, and intellect. One exchange with the lead writer of the Miss America pageant telecast questioned whether 2013 winner Mallory Hagan was "preparing for her new career … as a blimp in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade," and questioned whether the people on the email chain were the only ones who hadn’t engaged in sexual relations with her. "It appears we are the only ones!" Haskell replied.
The story prompted 49 former pageant winners, including former Fox News host Gretchen Carlson, to sign an open letter demanding Haskell’s removal, NJ.com reports. Carlson tweeted, "Classic women shaming which I thought we'd learned in 2017 doesn’t fly anymore. This is outrageous." MAO’s board released a statement Friday saying it will conduct a full investigation into the matter, stressing its commitment to "the education and empowerment of young women." Per the Hollywood Reporter, Haskell, who has been credited with reviving the organization after first becoming involved in 2005, has called the claims "unkind and untrue," and blamed stress from a tiff he’s had with two former winners for his behavior. "My mistake was a mistake of words," he said. Dick Clark Productions terminated its relationship with MAO, citing the "unacceptable content" HuffPost’s article revealed.