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Miss Teen USA Runner-Up Rejects Crown, Citing Bullying By the Organization’s CEO

Miss Teen USA Runner-Up Rejects Crown, Citing Bullying By the Organization’s CEO
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Miss Teen USA Runner-Up Rejects Crown, Citing Bullying By the Organization's CEO

Source: Pinterest

Toxicity and pageantry are often combined, and the recent winners and runner-ups of the recently concluded Miss USA and Miss Teen USA pageants have an interesting story to tell. The winner’s refusal to accept the honor was unexpected but even more shocking is the fact that the runner-up for Miss Teen USA followed her lead. 

Stephanie Skinner, the former Miss Teen New York, is the runner-up in question. She decided to refuse the crown after the original winner turned it down. It was a great sacrifice, but she says she made it because it was the right thing to do.

An Interesting Turn of Events

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In a beauty pageant, the runner-up is usually the one who almost won and would have done anything to become first place, which is why the recently concluded Miss Teen USA pageant’s surprising twist has everyone paying attention. The winner of the Miss Teen USA is UmaSofia Srivastava; however, she chose to step down, rejecting a crown that should have gone to the runner-up, Stephanie Skinner. But then Skinner shocked everyone by turning it down, too. In a statement she later made, Skinner said she did what she did due to the circumstances surrounding the event. 

Miss USA Didn’t Want the Title Too

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24-year-old Noelia Voigt was the winner of Miss USA, and like the Srivastava, she also turned down the crown. One of the reasons she claims pushed her to do such a thing was her mental health, but Srivastava shared a little more, saying she had to reject the win because the organization’s values no longer aligned with hers.

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Was There Bullying Involved?

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The actions of these three women have triggered whispers of bullying and toxicity in their working environments. These rumors were seemingly confirmed by the Miss USA Organization social media manager, Claudia Michelle, who could share even more details because she did not sign an NDA as the pageant winners did. According to Michelle, the management has a toxic way of addressing the ladies, which she thinks took a toll on their mental health. It was something she said she could not keep quiet about. 

Integrity Before Crowns

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Skinner is a 19-year-old from New Hartford, New York. She is also an economics major at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, which is another evidence that she has a good head on her shoulders. Skinner’s reason for rejecting the crown reportedly relates to the scandals Michelle hinted at. She felt it was morally right to support her fellow females by putting her integrity before the huge win she had worked so hard for. It has put her in everybody’s good books.

It Was No Easy Decision

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Skinner’s decision to reject the pageant crown was not easy for her to make. Her academic pursuit has only been possible thanks to scholarships, and she has been working with her sights set on the crown since she was just 12 years old. While her friends were going to prom, having fun at birthdays, and just goofing around like kids should, Skinner was busy preparing to become a winner. Unfortunately, she had to give it up. 

Not All That Glitters Is Gold

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Skinner’s bravery in doing what she felt was right is admirable. However, when you look at her background and her history of activism, it is not difficult to see how she came to her decision. Skinner knows the glamorous stigma attached to pageantry, but she delved into it for a different reason: advocacy. Raised by a single parent and a survivor of family domestic violence, she created an organization to serve as a platform for her activism, and her winning the Miss Teen USA would have furthered that course.

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More About Skinner’s Organization

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Skinner’s organization is called Hands of Hope, and it was founded in 2019 to empower teenagers with a message of self-acceptance and spread awareness of all forms of abuse. It also provides realistic tools to prevent and address the issue of domestic violence in the US.

The Miss USA Runner-Up Jumped at the Crown

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While the runner-up for Miss Teen USA stood in solidarity with the winner’s decision to forgo the crown, the runner-up for Miss USA had no such compunctions. When Voigt turned down the winning honor, the next in line, Savannah Gankiewicz, jumped at the chance to become Queen. The 28-year-old former Miss Hawaii has been getting chewed out because of it, but she claimed on Instagram that her decision was not made lightly. 

Her Fierce Defender

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While many may be disappointed with Gankiewicz’s acceptance of the crown, her mother, Yvienne Peterson, remains staunchly behind her as a firm support system and fierce defender. She tagged her daughter as a warrior who can easily endure the hateful comments netizens have been making and made light of Voigt’s troubles, implying she would have made a better role model by enduring what the organization threw her way.

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Who Is the Bully?

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According to Michelle and another source close to the girls, one of the bullies at the center of it all is seemingly the Miss USA Pageant CEO, Laylah Rose. She reportedly made Voigt’s life a living hell and even disrespected Srivastava’s family. The source claims the organization tried to micromanage everything the women did, and none could speak out because of the NDA.

What the Future Holds

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The embattled pageants now have to face evaluation from The CW, the network broadcasting them, over their relationship. However, Skinner will continue to support Voigt and Srivastava even though she does not know exactly what pushed them to turn down their crowns. Skinner will also keep working on her activism; she revealed on Instagram that she has joined a global research project in Thailand that will require her to live abroad, but just for the summer.

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