Miss Teen USA Karlie Hay Comes Under Fire for Racist Tweets Hours After Being Crowned
The Texan has admitted she used language she is 'not proud of.'
On Saturday, Miss Texas Teen Karlie Hay beat out 51 other women to be crowned Miss Teen USA. The annual beauty pageant was held at Las Vegas' Venetian, where Hay came out on top thanks to her Q&A response on peer pressure.
Any individual thrust into the spotlight overnight is, of course, subject to increased scrutiny. Only hours after being crowned, Hay's social media accounts were found laden with racist language.
Hay was quick to issue a response of regret via Instagram:
"Several years ago, I had many personal struggles and found myself in a place that is not representative of who I am as a person," she wrote. "I admit that I have used language publicly in the past which I am not proud of and that there is no excuse for."
But, according to Hay, she's changed. And it's all thanks to pageants:
"Through hard work, education and thanks in large part to the sisterhood that I have come to know through pageants, I am proud to say that I am today a better person," she continued. "I am honored to hold this title and I will use this platform to promote the values of The Miss Universe Organization, and my own, that recognize the confidence, beauty and perseverance of all women."
In a statement issued to E! News, the Miss Universe Organization committed to standing by Hay despite the controversy:
"The language Karlie Hay used is unacceptable at any age and in no way reflects the values of The Miss Universe Organization. As Karlie stated, she was in a different place in her life and made a serious mistake she regrets and for which she sincerely apologizes. 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."
Though the majority of the messages showed timestamps from 2013 and 2014, it is unclear how recently the racist language was used. 18-year-old Hay, whose birthday is December 12, would have been 15 for the majority of 2013.
The controversy comes at a poor time, given previous accusations that the competition failed to ensure diversity in their top five contestants.
Model Chrissy Teigen took note of the issue:
And interestingly, Former Miss Teen USA Kamie Crawford also spoke up — not on the language itself, but instead condemning Hay for failing to "clean up her page":
"I can take the #missteenusa top 5 being an all white, all blonde top 5," she wrote. "What I can't take is - why didn't the winner clean up her page?
Despite all this, the organization has made their stance on the matter crystal clear. Hay will be sleeping peacefully knowing her title is safe.