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Inside: Why the Miss America Beauty Pageant is No Longer the Nation's Sweetheart

Last December the venerable institution was mired in scandal when a raft of emails from executives running the organisation was leaked to the Huffington Post.

AFP Relaxnews

Updated:August 15, 2018, 5:45 PM IST
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Inside: Why the Miss America Beauty Pageant is No Longer the Nation's Sweetheart
In 2015, contestants wore swimsuits as they competed in the 2016 Miss America pageant in Atlantic City. Photo/ AP
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It has been a wretched year for Miss America, an event that started life as a wheeze to attract tourists to the Atlantic City Boardwalk in 1921.

Last December the venerable institution was mired in scandal when a raft of emails from executives running the organisation was leaked to the Huffington Post.

They laid bare how senior figures had ridiculed previous winners, making crude remarks about their appearance and sex lives.

Sponsors disowned the pageant and 49 former Miss Americas called for the heads of those at the helm.

They got their wish - a new executive team was brought in headed by Gretchen Carlson who was Miss America in 1989 and more recently a Fox News anchor best known for bringing down the network chairman, Roger Ailes, whom she accused of sexual harassment.

Miss America was relaunched and the bikini parade consigned to history.

Carlson certainly gave an uplifting message when she was interviewed at the National Press Club in Washington DC at the end of July.

"The two reasons why I entered the programme were talent and scholarship, and these are the two things we need to make sure we are messaging better."

It could be argued that in the age of the #MeToo movement, Miss America has claimed the feminist high ground from Miss USA, a comparative newcomer dating back to 1952, where the swimsuit competition remains a key part of the show.

Instead, there are question marks over whether it can raise the money needed to fund its ambitious programme of scholarships for high-achieving young women.
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