Monday, May 27, 2024

Teen and Miss USA quit their crowns, citing mental health and personal values

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The reigning winners of Miss USA, Noelia Voigt, and Miss Teen USA, UmaSofia Srivastava, resigned from their titles within days of each other this week in a shock to the Miss Universe Organization.

The resignations leave the longstanding pageant group without its top two titleholders for the first time in 72 years, shining a spotlight on its practices. The resignations have drawn calls for more transparency into Miss USA and its parent organization, both of which have faced controversy and scrutiny in the past.

Voigt, crowned in September 2023, was the first Venezuelan American to win her title.

The title was a “childhood dream” and stepping down was a “very tough decision,” the former Miss Utah and University of Alabama student said in an Instagram post on Monday.

“My hope is that I continue to inspire others to remain steadfast, prioritize your mental health, advocate for yourself and others by using your voice,” the 24-year-old wrote.

Alongside the statement, Voigt added a caption that read, “I realize this may come as a large shock to many. Never compromise your physical and mental well-being.” She then thanked fans for their “unwavering support.”

In its own statement, the Miss USA Organization thanked Voigt for her service and wished her “the best in this next chapter.”

“We respect and support Noelia’s decision to step down from her duties. The well-being of our titleholders is a top priority, and we understand her need to prioritize herself at this time,” the statement read. “We are currently reviewing plans for the transition of responsibilities to a successor, and we will soon announce the crowning of the new Miss USA.”

Srivastava, who was also crowned last September, announced her resignation in her own post on Instagram on Wednesday.

“I find that my personal values no longer fully align with the direction of the organization,” the former Miss New Jersey Teen USA wrote.

The 17-year-old thanked her family and fans, said she was glad to represent her state as a first-generation Mexican Indian American and noted she was eager to apply to colleges and work on her multi-lingual children’s book.

A caption accompanying the statement said “this was certainly not how I saw my reign coming to a close” but called the experience a privilege.

A Miss Teen USA spokesperson could not be reached for comment on Srivastava’s announcement. The Miss Universe Organization, which runs the Miss USA and Miss Teen USA pageants, could not be reached for comment.

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Associated Press writer Mark Kennedy contributed to this report.

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Alexa St. John is an Associated Press climate solutions reporter. Follow her on X: @alexa_stjohn. Reach her at ast.john@ap.org.

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