Miss America hopefuls arrive as pageant faces dissension

August 30, 2018 - 10:29 am

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) — The 51 hopefuls vying for the title of Miss America are set to arrive in Atlantic City on Thursday amid changes and internal dissension for the pageant.

Pageant Chairwoman Gretchen Carlson has feuded on Twitter with reigning Miss America Cara Mund after Mund said she'd been "silenced" by pageant officials seeking to control what she says.

More than half of state organizations around the country have called for Carlson, a former Fox News host, and CEO Regina Hopper to resign. Part of the dissatisfaction stems from the way the decision to discontinue the swimsuit competition was announced in June.

Contestants from the 50 states plus the District of Columbia will meet the public Thursday afternoon. The next Miss America will be crowned at Boardwalk Hall in a nationally televised broadcast on Sept. 9.

Carlson and Hopper took over earlier this year after previous pageant officials were revealed to have circulated emails denigrating the appearance, intellect and sex lives of former Miss Americas.

Mund said in a letter to former Miss Americas on Aug. 17 that she has been left out of interviews and not invited to meetings, and that she had a televised farewell speech cut to 30 seconds after she indirectly hinted at trouble with pageant leadership in a newspaper interview.

After Mund made her allegations in a letter to former Miss Americas on Aug. 17, Carlson responded on Twitter that Mund's actions had cost the pageant $75,000 in new scholarships and that she was "already seeing a negative ripple effect across the entire organization."

The Miss America Organization told The Associated Press this month it hopes to hand out at least as much in scholarships this year as it did last year, approximately $500,000.

Pageant officials also announced Thursday that music producer and television host Randy Jackson and news anchor Soledad O'Brien will be among this year's celebrity judges. Joining them will be former boxer and author Laila Ali; on-air personality and author Bobby Bones; country music star Jessie James Decker; founder of Dry Bar Alli Webb, and singer/songwriter Carnie Wilson.