The newly crowned Miss Teen USA apologized for her past use of the N-word on Twitter, saying that “due to a number of personal struggles, I was in a place that is not representative of who I am now.”
Not long after Karlie Hay of Texas received the crown on Saturday night, those tweets from 2013 and 2014 resurfaced and went viral on social media. Her account has since been set to private, but not before numerous people posted screenshots of those tweets.
On Monday, the Miss Universe USA organization disavowed those tweets but said their new queen would keep her crown.
“The language Karlie Hay used is unacceptable at any age and in no way reflects the values of The Miss Universe Organization,” reads a statement from Miss Universe, which runs the Miss Teen USA pageant.
The organization cited Hay’s apology, saying, “she was in a different place in her life and made a serious mistake she regrets.” It continued: “Karlie learned many lessons through those personal struggles that reshaped her life and values. We as an organization are committed to supporting her continued growth.”
Hay said in a statement that due to “hard work, education, maturity” and the camaraderie of the pageant world “I am today a better person.”
This dynamic is familiar: A person has his or her public status elevated and then old social media postings resurface. Particularly, bad tweets, selfies and Facebook rants can spur days of controversy. Recall how Trevor Noah’s promotion to take the helm at “The Daily Show” became eclipsed by some bad jokes he tweeted years before, which were decried as offensive, lazy or just lame.
Miss Teen USA’s job is not to try and tell biting jokes (the pursuit of which may result in some bad jokes along the way) but to serve as a totally non-controversial role model and spokesperson for promoting positive behavior. Her tweets using the N-word were apparently still up even during her reign as Miss Texas Teen USA.
The entire episode came at the same time the pageant — which recently received public praise for nixing its swimsuit competition — faced criticism over the lack of diversity of its top five contestants. All are white women with blond hair.