ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. — Gretchen Carlson, a former Miss America who helped eliminate the pageant’s swimsuit competition to the chagrin of some, is stepping down as board chairwoman of the Miss America Organization.
She was part of an all-female leadership team that took over the pageant following an email scandal in which male leaders insulted former Miss Americas, denigrating their appearance, intelligence and even their sex lives.
Carlson pushed for the elimination of the swimsuit competition from the pageant, which originated in Atlantic City nearly 100 years ago. In its place last year, contestants spoke about themselves, their goals and how they planned to serve the community.
Some welcomed the change as making the pageant more relevant, but many state organizations rebelled against the new leadership team over how it ran the organization.
She said in a statement that she has helped make the organization more relevant.
“When I was asked to take this volunteer position over a year ago, I dedicated myself to helping the organization build on its history while working to secure its future, and am extremely proud of the work we have collectively done,” Carlson said.
“With a promising network partnership, the time is ideal to give new leadership the opportunity to move forward with what has been accomplished. Miss America will always be a part of who I am and I will enthusiastically watch as the organization continues to grow and succeed.”
Regina Hopper, the organization’s CEO, said, “We are grateful for the talents, expertise and time Gretchen gave to move this organization to relevancy, diversity and inclusion for a new generation of young women.
“We are thrilled she will continue to move this transition forward as an adviser to the board as we work toward a successful Miss America 2020 on NBC, and the 100th anniversary of this American icon in 2021.”
Carlson, who was Miss America 1989, also is a former Fox News host who became an early #MeToo leader when she quit in 2016, accusing Roger Ailes, the network’s chairman at the time, of sexual harassment.
In September 2016, Fox News’ parent company, 21st Century Fox, settled a lawsuit brought by Carlson over her allegations against Ailes for a reported $20 million.
Carlson will be replaced by Shantel Krebs, the former South Dakota secretary of state. Attorney Brenda Keith will be vice-chair.
“As a female legislator, statewide elected official and entrepreneur, I understand how important it is to empower the coming generations of women to seek out how they can have a positive impact on our society by stepping up to the plate,” said Krebs.
The location of this year’s pageant still has not been determined.