How did the Miss USA pageant end in such a mess?

Comments on Instagram from the official Miss USA account, bearing a selfie of Nolia Voigt, began appearing in February and March, six months after she won the beauty pageant crown.

There was a pattern to them: They paid tribute to the head of the Miss USA organization, Layla Rose.

“Thank you @laylahrose for making all of this happen,” one read. “You went above and beyond! Love our president!” Another read.

The comments struck Miss USA staff as bizarre because Voigt and Rose were known to have a strained relationship. Their suspicions were not misplaced: Voigt did not write or publish the glowing letters about Rose.

Text messages reviewed by The Daily Beast show that Voigt confronted Rose about the comments and asked that her name not be used for such endorsements. Rose blamed the social media team, but the comments were quietly edited to include the “-staff” attribution.

The dispute was a symptom of a much deeper problem that erupted in stunning fashion last week. Voigt resigned from her position as Miss Teen USA last Monday due to her mental health, a move that was quickly followed by the resignation of Miss Teen USA. The double whammy made headlines around the world, but it wasn’t a shock to insiders, who told The Daily Beast that the organization had been rocked by internal turmoil that began with the arrival of Leyla-Rose.

Rose was brought in to turn around the faltering franchise and promised to turn it into a vehicle for women’s empowerment. But ten former employees, current state managers, and current title holders told The Daily Beast that it threw the company into disarray. These insiders say Rose postponed state competitions, managed four different leadership teams, intimidated and threatened title holders, and failed to adequately staff the organization.

Now, some of them are calling for Rose to resign.

“This is the first time I’ve supported cancel culture,” said Jennifer Lloyd, who has worked on producing the contest in the past. “I want to be that woman who will always stand up for women…but this is the first time I’ve seen someone trashing and ruining the brand.”

Rose did not respond to requests for comment sent to her via text and LinkedIn, and Miss USA also did not respond to calls and a detailed email requesting comment.

Rose previously said nbc “The well-being of all individuals associated with Miss USA is my top priority.”

“All along, my personal goal as president of this organization has been to inspire women to always create new dreams, have the courage to explore it all, and continue to maintain integrity along the way,” she said. “I hold myself to the same high standards and take these allegations very seriously.”

Lily Rose walks the runway with a model during New York Fashion Week 2019.

Brian Ash/Getty

A former model who worked a series of odd jobs before launching her own fashion brand and styling herself as a beauty pageant expert, Rose bought Miss USA from the Miss Universe organization in 2023, following a series of scandals that included allegations of fraud and sexual harassment. By a former Vice President. The previous chief, Christel Stewart, was placed under investigation and chose to resign in 2022, leaving a gaping hole in leadership that Rose — whose legal last name is Witchley — jumped in to fill.

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The problems began shortly after Rose took the reins in August, just weeks before the 2023 Miss USA pageant. State managers — the independent franchisees who run the qualifying pageants in each state, many of whom have done so for decades — learned of her appointment from During a press release, the state superintendent, who requested anonymity for fear of retaliation, told The Daily Beast. The state director said they were invited to a Zoom meeting with the new president, who danced around their questions about the fast-approaching national competition and claimed she couldn’t talk about the details.

“It was a whirlwind from the moment I took off,” she said.

The production team for the first competition was hired just six to eight weeks before the broadcast date, according to three people who worked on the event. The team worked around the clock, and even helped secure a deal to air the contest on The CW — the first time the contest had been shown on network television since 2019. But Rose replaced that team three weeks before the contest began airing, then fired the team and said those People replaced shortly thereafter.

State managers also received little information during the event about where competitors should be and when, the state director said. Rose — who had promised to hold regular town meetings before the event — didn’t meet with the state directors again until days after they arrived at the competition in Reno, sending them an email invitation with two hours’ notice.

“No other company would approach you in this way if they truly considered you an important part of that company,” the manager said. “And then we kind of realized what we were getting into.”

Many Miss USA pageants, where contestants are selected for next year’s Miss USA pageant, begin shortly after the conclusion of the Miss USA pageant. But at that first meeting in August, Rose told all of the state directors that they would not hold their contests until she gave them the go-ahead. As months passed without word from her, state managers were forced to cancel their pageants, losing venues, vendors, contracts, deposits — and in some cases even contestants, who switched to other pageants. In January, the state director told The Daily Beast that Miss Universe’s parent company stepped in to greenlight the state pageants so that winners could be crowned in time for the next pageant cycle.

Meanwhile, tensions between Rose and the newly crowned Miss USA were already mounting. In late November, Voigt traveled to represent the United States at the Miss Universe pageant in El Salvador. According to her coach, Tom Brodeur, she did not have an official chaperone or any wardrobe assistance, as is customary for all Miss USA winners.

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In his resignation letter obtained by The Daily Beast, W It was first reported by NBCVoigt said her mother traveled to El Salvador at her own expense to work as an escort, and that her family took out personal loans that she is still paying off to prepare her for the competition. Voigt wrote that the stress of traveling and preparing to compete was so great that her mother ended up in a hospital in El Salvador.

When Voigt tried to communicate with leadership on these and other issues, former employees and her coach said, she was met with silence or outright aggression from Rose. Brodeur said he witnessed Voigt receiving “harsh, aggressive and threatening communications” from Rose when she reached out to her for guidance, which was often necessary because she did not receive her official Miss USA handbook until five months after she won. job. He added that Rose was “very clear about the hierarchy” and would often put Voigt in her place and tell her: “I’m the boss, you’re not.”

Claudia Englehart, Miss USA’s former social media director, who resigned last week, said she saw Rose threaten to withhold Voigt’s pay if she reneged on her directives. Englehart added that these were often small matters of personal preference, such as whether or not Voigt tagged someone in an Instagram post. In her resignation letter, Voigt said Rose threatened to discipline her for a post on her personal Instagram account on the days she asked to stop working from her $100,000-a-year job.

Englehart said she often found herself thinking, “Don’t the executive have bigger things to worry about than harassing or bullying the title holder?”

A former Miss USA employee told The Daily Beast that Voigt reached out to the Miss Universe organization about her concerns in February and received no response until one of the national co-directors contacted the parent company.

Miss USA’s business operations were also taking a turn for the worse. At the time Englehart joined in January 2024, there were two national co-directors — the third iteration of Rose’s leadership team in less than six months — but no one specifically tasked with managing social media or coordinating events. Rose tried to wear all of those hats at once, which led to slow communications and missed opportunities for events and sponsorships, Englehart said.

“How can you buy an organization and not have the money to hire it?” Englehart asked, adding that she’s “seen state pageants run better.”

The state director said she also sent urgent emails without a response, but Rose reprimanded her when she eventually sent a copy to higher-ups at Miss Universe. When she read in Voigt’s resignation letter that Rose was aggressive and unreachable, she said: “I [wasn’t] Surprised, because we felt the same way.

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“We try to be the positive face of the brand, and the brand continues to disrespect us by ignoring us,” she said.

In late April, Rose fired her national co-directors, including the director who had brought Voigt’s concerns to the Miss Universe organization months earlier. Voigt announced her resignation a week later.

“Unfortunately, I have made the very difficult decision to resign as Miss USA 2023,” she wrote on Instagram. “I am grateful for the love and support of fans, old and new, my family, friends, coaches, former state and local administrators, and our beloved Miss Teen USA, Uma Sofia.”

Two days later, Umasophya Srivastava resigned from her position, saying on Instagram that her “personal values ​​were no longer fully aligned with the direction of the organization.”

Miss Teen USA 2023 Uma Sofia Srivastava and Miss Teen USA 2023 Noelia Voigt

Miss USA 2023 Uma Sofia Srivastava and Miss USA 2023 Noelia Voigt – before they resigned.

Craig Barrett/Getty

The news sent the Instagram conversation of current state title holders into overdrive, according to Miss Idaho Hannah Menzer. The group of 50 women began brainstorming how to support Voigt and Srivastava and came up with a joint statement, which the vast majority of them posted on Instagram, expressing their support for her decision and requesting that Voigt be released from any confidentiality clause in her contract.

“We want to allow Nolia to share her own story,” Munzer told The Daily Beast. “We want her to share with us what happened because we think there’s more to the story. Miss USA is a women’s empowerment organization and that doesn’t seem to be what’s going on with its leadership, so we want answers.”

The group is still deciding what to do now that the 24-hour deadline to release Voigt from her non-disclosure agreement has expired. Menzer said she still doesn’t know the full story of what happened, but after reading Voigt’s resignation letter in full, she is leaning toward calling for Rose’s resignation.

“I think there needs to be a change in leadership, and I’m certainly not the only person in the pageant world who thinks that,” she said. “Our letter was not only meant to put pressure on Miss USA, but also… [on] Miss Universe Organization to take necessary action.

At least one state titleholder — Miss Colorado — gave up her crown in solidarity with Voigt and Srivastava. Miss Teen USA runner-up Stephanie Skinner declined to replace Srivastava this week the people Magazine, “Although this title was my dream, I believe there is one thing I will never give up and that is my personality.”

The state director who spoke to The Daily Beast said she, too, would step down after this year’s pageant if Rose is allowed to stay.

“It is clear to all of us that she is completely unprepared to run this business,” the manager said. “And you’ll try to bury it in the ground to prove us all wrong.”

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