Former Miss America targeted in Sam Haskell emails speaks out

Days after the Sam Haskell email scandal rocked the pageant world, former Miss America Mallory Hagan publicly addressed the controversy in a candid interview on Good Morning America Tuesday.

The Huffington Post first exposed leaked emails on Thursday, showcasing the now-former CEO, along with other Miss America leaders, exchanging emails where they crudely discussed the appearances of women who had competed in the pageant with demeaning and misogynistic language.

Hagan, who was crowned with the coveted role in 2013, was one of the women Haskell mocked in the emails, belittling her love life and weight. Despite never personally experiencing derogatory comments during her reign, Hagan revealed that she had heard comments made about other Miss Americas. “I didn’t put two and two together in that moment, but hindsight is always 20-20,” the former pageant winner explained.

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Former Miss America Mallory Hagan
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Former Miss America Mallory Hagan
Miss America 2013 Mallory Hytes Hagan, 23, Miss New York, poses during a news conference after winning the Miss America Pageant in Las Vegas January 12, 2013. REUTERS/Steve Marcus (UNITED STATES - Tags: ENTERTAINMENT)
LAS VEGAS, NV - JANUARY 12: Miss America, Mallory Hytes Hagan, of New York, poses during a news conference after she was crowned during the 2013 Miss America Pageant at Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino on January 12, 2013 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by David Becker/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - JANUARY 12: Joanna Guy (L), Miss Maryland, and Chandler Lawson (R), Miss Tennessee, congratulate Mallory Hytes Hagan, Miss New York, as she reacts during the 2013 Miss America Pageant at PH Live at Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino on January 12, 2013 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by David Becker/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - JANUARY 12: Ali Rogers, (C) Miss South Carolina, looks on as Miss America 2012 Laura Kaeppeler (R) congratulates Mallory Hytes Hagan of New York, after being crowned the new Miss America during the 2013 Miss America Pageant at PH Live at Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino on January 12, 2013 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by David Becker/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - JANUARY 12: Ali Rogers (L), Miss South Carolina, and Mallory Hytes Hagan, Miss New York, react after the announcement of the new Miss America during the 2013 Miss America Pageant at PH Live at Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino on January 12, 2013 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by David Becker/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - JANUARY 12: Miss America, Mallory Hytes Hagan, of New York, poses during a news conference after she was crowned during the 2013 Miss America Pageant at Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino on January 12, 2013 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by David Becker/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - JANUARY 12: Miss America 2012 Laura Kaeppeler (R) congratulates Mallory Hytes Hagan of New York, after being crowned the new Miss America during the 2013 Miss America Pageant at PH Live at Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino on January 12, 2013 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by David Becker/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - JANUARY 12: Miss America 2012 Laura Kaeppeler crowns Mallory Hytes Hagan of New York, the new Miss America during the 2013 Miss America Pageant at PH Live at Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino on January 12, 2013 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by David Becker/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - JANUARY 12: Mallory Hytes Hagan, Miss New York, competes in the swimsuit competition during the 2013 Miss America Pageant at PH Live at Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino on January 12, 2013 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Hagan went on to be crowned the new Miss America. (Photo by David Becker/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - JANUARY 05: Miss New York Mallory Hagan is introduced at the 2013 Miss America Pageant 'Meet and Greet' Fashion Show at the Fashion Show mall on January 5, 2013 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Marcel Thomas/FilmMagic)
Mallory Hagan, Miss NY 2012 attending the New 42nd Street Gala at The New Victory Theater in New York City on December 5, 2012 (Photo by Walter McBride/Corbis via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 03: Miss New York 2012 Mallory Hagan attends the 4th Annual African Children's Choir Fundraising Gala at City Winery on December 3, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Jemal Countess/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - JANUARY 12: Mallory Hytes Hagan, Miss New York, competes in the talent competition during the 2013 Miss America Pageant at PH Live at Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino on January 12, 2013 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Hagan went on to be crowned the new Miss America. (Photo by David Becker/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 14: Miss America Mallory Hagan visits 'Extra' in Times Square on January 14, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by D Dipasupil/Getty Images for Extra)
THE 2013 MISS AMERICA COMPETITION - Press Conference - 'The 2013 Miss America Competition' was telecast live from the Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino in Las Vegas on SATURDAY, JANUARY 12, 2013 (9:00-11:00 p.m., ET) on the ABC Television Network. (Photo by Craig Sjodin/ABC via Getty Images) MARY HART, MCKAYLA MARONEY, DAYMOND JOHN, MISS AMERICA 2013 MALLORY HAGAN, MISS AMERICA 2009 - KATIE STAM IRK, BRADLEY BAYOU, CHERYL BURKE, SAM CHAMPION
GOOD MORNING AMERICA - The newly crowned Miss America, Mallory Hagan appears on 'Good Morning America,' 1/14/13, airing on the ABC Television Network. (Photo by Fred Lee/ABC via Getty Images)MALLORY HAGAN, SAM CHAMPION
HOLLYWOOD, CA - FEBRUARY 05: Miss America 2013 Mallory Hagan celebrates National Pancake Day at IHOP on February 5, 2013 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by David Livingston/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 30: Deron Williams #8 of the Brooklyn Nets poses with Miss America 2013 Mallory Hagan before the game against the Miami Heat at the Barclays Center on January 30, 2013 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 27: Miss America Mallory Hagan speaks to the media at the opening of the WBC MLB Fan Cave at Broadway and 4th Street in New York City. (Photo by Thomas Levinson/MLB Photos via Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 09: Miss America Mallory Hagan and Miss California, Leah Cecil (C) pose with the 2013 Miss California contestants at the My Little Pony Coronation Concert at Brentwood Theatre on February 9, 2013 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Gabriel Olsen/FilmMagic)
NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 16: Miss America 2013 Mallory Hagan attends the Miss America 2013 Mallory Hagan Official Homecoming Celebration at The Fashion Institute of Technology on March 16, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by Rob Kim/FilmMagic)
NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 16: A general view of the Miss America 2013 Mallory Hagan Official Homecoming Celebration at The Fashion Institute of Technology on March 16, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by Dave Kotinsky/Getty Images)
THE BACHELORETTE - 'Episode 904' - Desiree meets 11 of her guys at Boardwalk Hall - the birthplace of the Miss America Competition. There Chris Harrison, who will co-host ABC's live telecast of the 2014 Miss America Competition, on Sunday, September 15 (2013) with 'Good Morning America' co-host Lara Spencer, and the reigning Miss America Mallory Hagan, reveal that the men will compete in the first ever 'The Bachelorette's Mr. America' title. A day of rehearsing leads to another surprise: they'll be performing in front of a live audience, with Desiree, Miss America and the Mayor of Atlantic City, Lorenzo Tyrone Langford, judging the competition. Wacky talent performances, an exciting display of swimsuits and the all-important interviews lead to one suitor being crowned. But the competition at the after party is also fierce, with Ben continuing to flaunt his time with Desiree in front of the other guys. Who will end up with the rose? -- on 'The Bachelorette,' MONDAY, JUNE 17 (8:00-10:01p.m., ET) on the ABC Television Network. (Photo by Lou Rocco/ABC via Getty Images) MISS AMERICA 2013 MALLORY HAGAN, MAYOR LORENZO LANGFORD
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 16: (R-L) TV personality AJ Calloway, Miss America 2013 Mallory Hagan, and Prevent Child Abuse America president and CEO James M. Hmurovich attend the Pinwheels For Prevention Campaign Event in Times Square on April 16, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by D Dipasupil/Getty Images)
Miss America 2013 Mallory Hagan, left, and actress Morena Baccarin attend the 20th Annual White House Correspondents' Garden Brunch in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Saturday, April 27, 2013. This year's event will honor the Citizens United for Research in Epilepsy (CURE) and the Miss America Foundation. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 29: Miss America 2013 Mallory Hagan lights The Empire State Building on May 29, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by Steve Mack/FilmMagic)
NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - AUGUST 08: Miss America Mallory Hytes Hagan visits the PSE&G Children's Specialized Hospital on August 8, 2013 in New Brunswick, New Jersey. (Photo by Dave Kotinsky/Getty Images)
OCEAN CITY, NJ - JUNE 15: Miss America 2013 Mallory Hagan attends the 2013 Miss New Jersey Pageant on June 15, 2013 in Ocean City, New Jersey. (Photo by Donald Kravitz/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JULY 14: 2013 Miss America Mallory Hagan and television personality A.J. Calloway are seen during the 2013 Taco Bell All-Star Legends & Celebrity Softball Game at Citi Field Sunday, July 14, 2013, in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. (Photo by Thomas Levinson/MLB Photos via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JULY 14: (NEW YORK DAILIES OUT) Miss America Mallory Hagan during the Taco Bell All-Star Legends & Celebrity Softball Game at Citi Field on July 14, 2013 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
ELMONT CITY, NY - JUNE 11: (L-R) Contributor at Huffington Post Tom Murro, Miss New Jersey USA 2016 Jessielyn Palumbo, winner of the Longines Most Elegant Woman fashion contest Ashley Lauren Kerr, Amy Figueroa, of Longines and Miss America 2013 Mallory Hagan attend the 148th Running of the Belmont Stakes at Belmont Park on June 11, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Steve Mack/WireImage)
Miss America contestant, Miss New York Nina Davuluri (L) reacts with 2013 Miss America Mallory Hagan after being chosen winner of the 2014 Miss America Pageant in Atlantic City, New Jersey, September 15, 2013. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson (UNITED STATES - Tags: ENTERTAINMENT SOCIETY)
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After Haskell’s resignation on Saturday, former president and COO Josh Randle and Chairman Lynn Weidner also resigned after being revealed to have also exchanged the demeaning emails among the board members.

Although controversial, Hagan hopes the scandal can “signal the reinvention” of the Miss America pageant and credits former pageant employee Brent Adams for being the supporting voice the women needed.

“He stood up for me. He stood up for all these women,” Hagan said on ABC's GMA. Adding, “I hope that this is a turning point for Miss America for that reason alone. That we’re learning that we can stand up for others. He stood up for us and now we all band together to save our program.”

Hagan also emphasized that the focus shouldn’t be on the scandal, but rather the unity existing among former pageant winners and contestants. “I think this is an opportunity to see how women can come together, support each other, rise up, take over the things that they want to see happen and move forward,” she said. “I’m really hoping what people see is these women are empowered and work together.”

Hagan admits that change was prevented in the Miss America world pre-scandal because “the leadership in place was simply not open to it.” But now, there’s an “open door” for change, where gender diversity can still exist within the organization, post-Haskell: “Not just women should run a women’s organization, but I certainly think they should have a lot of the say and that’s not what we’ve seen in the last decade."

Randle addressed the email scandal, admitting that he had a “lapse in judgment” when making comments about Hagan. "I apologize to Mallory," Randle said in a statement to The Associated Press Saturday. "It does not reflect my values or the values I worked to promote at the Miss America Organization. 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 ... I feel terrible, but this is the right thing to do." 

Unfazed by the apologetic statement made by Randle, Hagan asserted that he and the others shouldn’t be of any focus. "At this point, those people are no longer affiliated with Miss America and what we really want to focus on is how we’re going to move forward in the future.”

5 PHOTOS
Famous Miss America winners
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Famous Miss America winners

Meriwether went on to play Catwoman in the original film version of 'Batman' in 1966.

(Photo credit: 20th Century Fox/Getty)

Mobley went on to star in multiple films with Elvis Presley. She died in 2014 at 77.

(Photo credit: Max B. Miller/Fotos International/Getty Images)

Gretchen Carlson won Miss America 1988 in Atlantic City, N.J.

(Photo credit: Jeff Kravitz via Getty Images)

Carlson is now the host of 'Fox & Friends' on Fox News.

(Photo credit: Laura Cavanaugh/Getty Images)

Turner later joined CBS News as a feature correspondent and a fill-in anchor.

(Photo credit: Elizabeth Burks/WireImage)

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The board announced it would be conducting an investigation into the alleged inappropriate communications, telling The Hollywood Reporter on Friday: "The Board wishes to reaffirm our commitment to the education and empowerment of young women, supporting them in every way possible." 

Dan Meyers, who has stepped in as interim chairman, confirmed Haskell's resignation was effective immediately. “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," he said in a statement. "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."

Also adding, "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.” 

Weidner and Randle will stay on for a few weeks to assist in the transition. "Earlier today, in light of recent events and new developments, the Miss America Organization’s Board of Directors received and accepted the resignation of President & COO Josh Randle," said a spokesperson in a statement to THR. "At the Board’s request, Josh has agreed to remain in his current capacity for several weeks to facilitate a smooth transition."

Dick Clark Productions also announced that it was no longer producing the Miss America pageant, after having a three-year deal with the organization. The company admitted to feeling “appalled” by the email content and after being made aware of sexual misconduct allegations in August 2017, terminated their relationship with the organization.

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