Runner-Up Refuses Crown Days After Miss Teen USA Resignation Controversy

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The runner-up for Miss Teen USA 2023 declined the crown days after the resignation of the original winner.

Miss New York, Stephanie Skinner, 19, shared a statement confirming her decision following the resignation of Miss Teen USA UmaSofia Srivastava, 17, last week.

“I ultimately came to the decision to decline it,” Skinner said via the New York Post. “I didn’t feel like it was the right decision considering all the circumstances.” 

Srivastava announced her decision to resign days after Miss USA Noelia Voigt, 24, and Miss USA Organization social media manager Claudia Michelle had previously stepped down from their positions. Sources with knowledge of the situation told the New York Post that the three women were "bullied" by Miss USA Organization CEO Laylah Rose and acted in solidarity.

Skinner added that she decided not to accept the crown following the reported mistreatment of her colleagues and would instead be "standing in solidarity and standing up for female empowerment."

"My integrity and my character will always come before crowns,” Skinner added.

Last week, Miss Hawaii, Savannah Gankiewcz, was named as the new Miss USA 2023 following Voigt's sudden resignation. Gankiewcz, 28, a model, entrepreneur and program director for the nonprofit 'What Makes You Feel Beautiful,' will officially be crowned in her native state during a celebratory coronation set for Wednesday (May 15), according to a post shared by the Miss USA Instagram account last Thursday (May 9).

“I fully support and respect Noelia’s decision to step down, and I stand in solidarity with mental health awareness,” Gankiewicz said in a statement shared on the Miss USA Instagram account. “I accept the crown knowing that I have been uplifted by my supporters, family, friends, and the people of Hawaii throughout this journey. I accept this title on their behalf.”

Voigt, who represented Utah while winning the Miss USA 2023 crown at the pageant held in September and placed in the top 20 in the Miss Universe 2023 pageant in November, announced her decision to become the first Miss USA title holder in the pageant's 72-year history to voluntarily resign on May 6, specifically mentioning Srivastava prior to the Miss Teen USA winner's own resignation on May 8, while expressing gratitude for support in her statement. Several users acknowledged that the first letter in the first 10 of 11 sentences of the statement shared by Voigt spelled out the phrase "I AM SILENCED."

“The decision was not easy. Noelia and UmaSofia are extremely dedicated people who worked incredibly hard for the pageant. The decisions were not taken lightly. They all decided to do this together,” an insider told the New York Post last week. “They are afraid of speaking out more at this time because of the organization. They don’t want this to have any lasting harmful effect on their futures.”

The source added that the alleged harassment and bullying was so bad that Srivastava's parents reportedly prohibited Rose from speaking to their daughter.

“All correspondence had to go through her parents. Her parents meet weekly with the Miss Universe Organization to try and get things to change with Miss USA but nothing ever gets done. No changes, no nothing,” the source claimed.

A spokesperson for the Miss USA organization said “the well-being of our titleholders is a top priority, and we understand her need to prioritize herself at this time" in a statement to CNN following her resignation.

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