Miss Hawaii takes over Miss USA crown amid organizational turmoil

Miss Hawaii takes over Miss USA crown amid organizational turmoilMiss Hawaii takes over Miss USA crown amid organizational turmoil
via KHON2 News, @savannahmarai
The first runner-up at the 2023 Miss USA pageant, Savannah Gankiewicz of Hawaii, has taken over the crown after the previous titleholder, Noelia Voigt, relinquished her title amid accusations of a toxic work environment in the Miss USA Organization.
Key points:
  • Gankiewicz, who is of Filipino, Vietnamese and Polish descent, accepted the title on Wednesday, with the aim to bring positive change to the organization.
  • Despite the tumultuous period for the Miss USA organization, plans for future pageants continue, with the Miss Teen USA and Miss USA events set to take place in Los Angeles this August.
Catch up:
  • Voigt cited her mental health as her reason for stepping down, but in her resignation letter obtained by CNN, she claimed that the organization’s CEO Laylah Rose is building “a culture of fear and control, the antithesis of women’s empowerment, that is…unsafe for future titleholders and employees.”
  • Days after, Miss Teen USA UmaSofia Srivastava also stepped down from her title, citing a misalignment with the organization‘s direction in her resignation.
  • While Voigt and Srivastava are bound by non-disclosure agreements, their mothers recently spoke out on their behalf, expressing dissatisfaction with the Miss USA Organization, alleging a toxic work environment, lack of support and safety measures for titleholders and mishandling of incidents such as sexual harassment.  
The details:
  • Gankiewicz, a 28-year-old mental health advocate, was crowned by the governor of Hawaii Josh Green at a ceremony in Honolulu. In her speech, she emphasized her commitment to creating a change within the organization.

“While this decision was not made lightly, I firmly believe that this opportunity was meant for me and I am ready to make a positive impact with this organization that I hold dear to my heart. I am dedicated to taking action and making a difference with my background as a certified mental health first aid responder and training in anti-bullying suicide prevention. I understand the importance of prioritizing your well-being and advocating for those in need. I believe that the true change starts from within and I am determined to lead by example and empower the class of 2024 and beyond.”

  • In an interview with KHON2, Gankiewicz said she received backlash after deciding to take over the title, but noted that it has not deterred her decision. “I did not know I was gonna get bullied, harassed and have death threats constantly. But I want people to know that I have taken this title because I feel like it’s a responsibility and an opportunity to make a positive change from within, and I can only do that from inside the organization.” 
  • Gankiewicz, who leads a female empowerment nonprofit, will reportedly hold the title until August, when a new contestant from the 2024 class of state titleholders will claim the national crown at the upcoming Miss USA pageant.
  • Although the CW Network has announced a three-year contract extension to air the pageants, the recent resignations prompted reconsideration by the network. In a statement released on Monday, CW Network said it is “evaluating its relationship with both pageants.” 
  • Meanwhile, Miss Teen USA remains uncertain as runner-up Stephanie Skinner of New York has declined the crown.
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