Former Miss America winners respond to resignation of top leadership

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Haskell said he made "a mistake of words". Lynn Weidner, chairman of the board, also resigned but will remain on the board up to 90 days to ensure a smooth transition, Meyers said.

Sam Haskell said he will abide by the suspension, even while decrying the Huffington Post story on Thursday that publicised the emails as "unkind and untrue".

The president, Josh Randle, told The Associated Press his comment responding to an email to his private account about the physical appearance of 2013 victor Mallory Hagan came months before he started working for the Miss America Organization in 2015.

The organisation announced the resignations a day after dozens of former Miss Americas signed a petition calling on the group's leadership to step down.

Gretchen Carlson - a pageant victor in 1989, a former board member of the Miss America Organization, and a former Fox journalist who sued Roger Ailes for sexual harassment and exposed a culture of terror at Fox News - was also regularly criticized and described as a "snake" and "INFUCKINGSANE".

The Miss America Organization continues to feel the effects of a bombshell report from Huffington Post published Thursday, revealing vulgar language used by top brass to describe former Miss America contestants via email.

The statement came hours after 49 former Miss Americas signed a petition demanding the resignation of Haskell and other pageant officials, as did more than 1,600 state and local title-holders, contestants and pageant volunteers.

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The email had pictures of Hagan and three other former Miss Americas.

In a statement, the organisation said it would be conducting "an in-depth investigation into alleged inappropriate communications [by Mr Haskell]".

In another exchange from August 2014, Haskell forwarded an email that said Hagan's hairdresser had been commenting on Hagan's sex life, as well as her recent weight gain to Miss America telecast lead writer Lewis Friedman and noted, "Not a single day passes that I am not told some frightful story about Mallory". He said it "impaired my judgment when responding to the inappropriate emails sent to me about them. For that, I deeply apologize".

And Mr Haskell wrote of tactics that would drive 1989 Miss America Gretchen Carlson "insane".

"For the longest time, I've tried to explain to people around me that this is happening or these things are being said", the victor of the 2013 pageant told NBC.

The emails already cost the pageant its television production partner and raised questions about the future of the nationally televised broadcast from Atlantic City's Boardwalk Hall the week after Labor Day each year.

Haskell replied, "It appears we are the only ones!"

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