Sam Haskell, the CEO of the Miss America Organization, resigned from his post Saturday after sexist and derogatory emails he sent about former contestants were uncovered by The Huffington Post.
Miss America’s Board of Directors announced Haskell’s suspension and a pending investigation into his emails on Dec. 23. In the emails written by Haskell, the former CEO made lewd jokes about women from past competitions being “c--ts.” He also referred to several contestants as being “huge” and “gross.” The Huffington Post report was based on nearly three years of internal emails provided by two sources.
Haskell originally said he would not be resigning, calling his derogatory statements a “mistake of words.”
“Those who know my heart know that this is not indicative of my character, nor is it indicative of my business acumen,” Haskell’s statement read. “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.” He then called The Huffington Post exposé a "vicious story" that included "a series of conveniently edited emails."
However, a letter sent on behalf of 49 former contestants calling for his resignation, proved to be influential in removing Haskell from his position. “It's absolutely inadequate, I'm sorry. He's brought public shame on an organization he claims to love. If he doesn't leave, he's not putting the organization first,” Miss America 2013 winner Mallory Hagan—who Haskell made inappropriate weight and sex-life related comments about—told the New York Daily News.
Haskell is not the only Miss America executive to be held accountable for the lewd correspondences. President and COO Josh Randle and board Chairman Lynn Weidner have also stepped down. Tammy Haddad, another board member who corresponded with Haskell in emails, resigned on Friday. Dick Clark Productions, which produces the show, severed their contract with the renowned pageant after calling Haskell’s emails “appalling.”
Following the resignations, The Miss America board released a statement to the Hollywood Reporter. "The Board wishes to reaffirm our commitment to the education and empowerment of young women, supporting them in every way possible. 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.”
While Haskell’s resignation is effective immediately, Weidner will stay on for the next 90 days as the company transitions.