This year, the new Miss America, 21-year-old Betty Cantrell of Georgia stole the show, but Sam Haskell, CEO of the Miss America organization, had just one more plan.
Thirty two years after actress-singer Vanessa Williams, the first Black woman to ever win the Miss America pageant, was asked to return the crown after nude photos of her leaked, Haskell felt that an apology was in order.
“On behalf of today’s organization, I want to apologize for anything that was said or done that made you feel any less the Miss America you are and the Miss America you always will be,” said Haskell.
“Thank you so much. Sam, so unexpected, yet so beautiful. I did the best that I could as my reign as Miss America 1983-84. I’m so honored to be back.”
In 1983 nude photos of the newly-crowned Miss America were leaked and published in Penthouse magazine. Williams was forced to return her crown, which she had only held for nine months—the average Miss America holds the title for a full year. At the time, Williams received no apology.
Some wondered why Haskell had not returned the crown, but Williams said that she in fact, still has her crown.