Miss Teen USA runner-up turns away crown after victor declined it too

A growing controversy with a prestigious pageant saw a runner-up turn down the crown after two victors already stepped away from their titles.

“My integrity and my character will always come before crowns.”

Months after Miss Teen New Jersey UmaSofia Srivastava, 17, was named Miss Teen USA, her decision to renounce her crown over “personal values” saw the now-unwanted honor presented to 19-year-old Miss Teen New York, Stephanie Skinner.

Her decision days later to follow suit with Srivastava led her to explain to the New York Post, “I ultimately came to the decision to decline it.”

“I didn’t feel like it was the right decision considering all the circumstances,” said Skinner who noted, “My integrity and my character will always come before crowns.”

Before speaking with the newspaper, the pageant competitor and economics major at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School had taken to Instagram where she detailed her decision to decline the crown as she committed to “a global research career opportunity in Thailand that will require me to live abroad for the summer.”

Nodding to the decision from Srivastava as well as 24-year-old Miss USA Noelia Voigt who abdicated her title, Skinner wrote, “What I do know is that my core values are integrity, honor, kindness, and most importantly I will always stand for female empowerment.”

“I’ve been working at this since I was 12 years old. I missed birthdays, proms and personal high school events training for this. It’s really like a sport. You dedicate your entire life to this goal,” she told the Post as she explained the weight of her choice. “Pageants have their stigma about being just about the glitz and the glam, but for me it’s about the advocacy. I grew up in a single parent household. I’m a survivor of family domestic violence and that’s why I created my own organization.”

In a similar Instagram post, Srivastava had outlined her resignation as Miss Teen USA 2023 and stated, “After careful consideration, I’ve decided to resign as I find that my personal values no longer fully align with the direction of the organization.”

Along with the teen competitors and Voigt’s resignation on May 6 where she contended she was “doing what’s best for…mental health,” the Miss USA Organization had also lost its social media manager Claudia Michelle when she resigned from her position.

According to sources that spoke with the Post, the turmoil was connected to Miss USA CEO Laylah Rose who had allegedly “bullied” the competitors.

Unlike Skinner, Miss Hawaii, 28-year-old Savannah Gankiewicz, had accepted the Miss USA crown after Voigt stepped down as she assured, “Please know that my decision to accept the Miss USA crown was not one that was made lightly. I stand with Noelia and admire her strength to step down and prioritize her mental health.”

Faced with backlash over the move, her mother Yvienne Peterson alluded to the accusations against Rose when she posted, “I have raised a warrior and your hateful comments she can endure.”

“What they went through was nothing detrimental. Yes, unfortunately, they may have had to ride Spirit airlines, yes, they may have had their boss tell them that some of their posts were not [on] brand…but if that was the worst…maybe they have forgotten what their primary role was and that was to be a role model for women.”

Amid the controversy, a spokesperson for the CW informed the Post by email that a lasting deal with the organization was in question, “In light of the events of last week, The CW Network is evaluating its relationship with both pageants.”

Kevin Haggerty

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