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Gretchen Carlson teases 'big changes' coming to the Miss America pageant

By Wade Sheridan
Gretchen Carlson teases 'big changes' coming to the Miss America pageant
Gretchen Carlson says that she wants to make the Miss America pageant about empowering women. File Photo by Bryan R. Smith/UPI | License Photo

Jan. 5 (UPI) -- New Miss America chairwoman Gretchen Carlson says that she wants to bring "big changes" to the long-running beauty pageant.

"I have so many great ideas for this organization and I will be talking about all of those with all the other board members and the eventual CEO and staff of Miss America," Carlson said Friday during an interview on Good Morning America.

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"So what I would love to say about that is please stay tuned because I plan to make this organization 100 percent about empowering women. Changes are coming, potentially big changes " she continued.

The potential changes Carlson discussed included opening up the pageant's guidelines for entry and changing the competitions restrictions on age, martial status and pregnancy.

"I'm open to looking at all of that," Carlson said before discussing LGBTQ inclusion in the pageant.

"Recently we had our first open lesbian contestant. Fantastic," she said. "The lesbian, transgender community has already reached out to me. I mean, I am open to speaking to every single person who wants to have a voice."


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Carlson, a former Fox News host who was crowned Miss America in 1989, was recently named chairwoman of the organization's board of directors along with three other former Miss America winners, including Laura Kaeppeler Fleiss, who won in 2012; Heather French Henry, who won in 2000; and Kate Shindle, who won in 1998.

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The position makes Carlson the first former Miss America winner to serve as chairwoman.

The new board members will lead Miss America after three executives including executive chairman and CEO Sam Haskell, president and COO Josh Randle and chairman Lynn Weidner resigned recently amid a leaked email scandal.

The scandal included three years of email exchanges within the organization being published online. The documents contained offensive emails about former Miss America winners, referencing their weight and private sex lives.

"I find that incredibly empowering in this Me Too movement, that some of the women who were allegedly maligned in those appalling emails, are now running the place," Carlson said. "It's a form of justice."

Carlson previously won a sexual harassment lawsuit against Fox News and former network chairman Roger Ailes in September 2016 that resulted in a $20 million settlement from the network.

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