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Savannah Gankiewicz crowned new Miss USA amid ongoing pageant unrest



CNN

Amid two dramatic weeks of resignations and allegations against the Miss USA Organization, Miss Hawaii USA Savannah Gankiewicz — who initially placed first runner-up in the Miss USA 2023 pageant — has stepped up to the plate to be crowned Miss USA.

“Although this decision was not taken lightly, I firmly believe that this opportunity was meant for me and I am ready to make a positive impact within this organization that is close to my heart,” said the player. of 28, who was crowned by Hawaii Governor Josh Green during a ceremony in Honolulu, Hawaii, on Wednesday.

“I am dedicated to taking action and making a difference. With my experience as a certified mental health first responder and my training in suicide prevention against bullying. I understand the importance of prioritizing your well-being and advocating for those in need. I believe real change starts from within and I am determined to lead by example and empower the Class of 2024 and beyond,” she said while addressing the crowd at a hotel in Waikiki, a small aquarium in the background.

Gankiewicz succeeded Noelia Voigt, who suddenly relinquished her crown earlier this month. Voigt cited mental health as the reason for her resignation, but her resignation letter to the Miss Universe Organization, obtained by CNN, accused CEO Laylah Rose of “actively building a culture of fear and control.”

Among her claims, she wrote that Miss USA management often failed to provide her with travel accommodations or an “effective manager,” the latter leading to an instance where Voigt says she was sexually harassed during a pageant. Christmas in Sarasota, Florida while she was alone. with an anonymous person in a car.

The Miss Universe Organization and Rose, through Miss USA, did not respond to CNN’s requests for comment.

Two days after Voigt’s resignation, Miss Teen USA 2023 UmaSofia Srivastava also relinquished her title, writing on Instagram that her values ​​”no longer fully align with the direction of the organization.”

In her first official appearance since the controversy, Rose did not address any of the allegations. She welcomed Gankiewicz to the Miss USA family, telling her to “seize this moment of influence and let your words carry the power of positive change,” and thanked her corporate partners and sponsors for their “unwavering support.” .

Rose said this year’s Miss Teen USA and Miss USA pageants will take place in Los Angeles and air on the CW network.

The CW announced a multi-year deal to air both pageants in April, but in light of recent allegations, USA Today reported Monday that the network is “evaluating” its relationship with the Miss USA Organization.

The CW did not immediately respond to CNN’s request for comment.

Tumult and turnover

Currently, the role of Miss Teen USA remains vacant. The 2023 first runner-up, New Yorker Stephanie Skinner, declined to be crowned in a public statement on Instagram.

On Tuesday, Voigt and Srivastava’s mothers spoke out on “Good Morning America,” saying their daughters remained subject to strict nondisclosure agreements in their contracts and could not speak about their experiences.

“Their dream job turned out to be a nightmare,” said Barbara Srivastava. “The girls decided to step down and give up on their life’s dream: a crown, a national title. Why would two girls decide to give up?

During their year of rule, she said, their daughters were “abused, abused, harassed and cornered,” she added.

Miss USA and Miss Universe Organization did not respond to multiple requests for comment from CNN.

Although many current Miss USA titleholders have expressed public support on Instagram following Voigt’s resignation, this week the reigning Miss Colorado USA, Arianna Lemus, relinquished her title altogether.

“My values ​​have been compromised. Silencing women is not the definition of pageantry,” she told CNN on Wednesday. “As a collective, the Class of 2023 (Miss USA) came together in solidarity with Noelia, but that wasn’t enough for me…and that’s why I resigned.”

Gankiewicz will only hold the Miss USA title for a few months this summer, until a new contestant from the 2024 class of state titleholders wins the national crown in August at the next Miss USA pageant.

On Instagram, she acknowledged the limitations of her role, saying: “With the limited time I have as Miss USA, I plan to draw attention and focus on rebuilding Lahaina on my island of Maui. I also look forward to helping the 2024 delegates transition into a new era of Miss USA and supporting them on their own journey to the crown.

Lemus, meanwhile, called for urgent action to protect titleholders from 2024 and beyond from restrictive contracts. Voigt’s mother, Jackeline Voigt, said on “Good Morning America” ​​that the contestants should reconsider competing.

“Look what happened to Noelia and UmaSofia,” she said. “Right now is not the right time to participate.”

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News Source : amp.cnn.com

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