Following a surprising resignation and unsettling allegations against the pageant’s leadership, Savannah Gankiewicz of Hawaii was crowned Miss USA 2023. The special coronation took place in Waikiki, marking a significant transition for the organization shadowed by controversy. Gankiewicz, 28, steps into the role left vacant by former Miss USA Noelia Voigt, who resigned citing mental health concerns and a toxic work environment, as reported by Hawaii News Now. This change of guard raises questions about the integrity of the pageant’s management and the real challenges behind the glamorous façade.

During the ceremony, Hawaii Governor Josh Green lauded Gankiewicz, noting her embodiment of resilience and hope for Hawaii. His comments, shared on Instagram, underscore the community’s support for her. However, this leadership shift occurs amidst a backdrop of serious accusations from Voigt, who detailed a toxic culture fostered by current Miss USA CEO and President Laylah Rose. Voigt’s abrupt departure and the ensuing fallout spotlight the underlying issues within the organization, challenging its public image.

Allegations of Misconduct and Response

Savannah Gankiewicz Takes Over as Miss USA Amid Controversy
Pictured is former Miss USA Noella Voigt

The resignation of Noelia Voigt opened a Pandora’s box of accusations against the Miss USA organization. In a detailed resignation letter, Voigt criticized the handling of a sexual harassment incident and described an overall environment of bullying and harassment. This letter, which NBC News obtained, reveals a troubling lack of support from the organization’s leadership, specifically targeting CEO Laylah Rose’s allegedly harsh and inconsistent communication style. Voigt’s claims paint a picture of a pageant that prioritizes appearances over the well-being of its participants.

In her letter, Voigt recounts a disturbing incident at a Christmas event in Florida, where she was left alone in a car with a man who made inappropriate advances. Despite reporting this to Rose, the response she received was dismissive, suggesting that such incidents are part of the role of a public figure. This response, detailed in Voigt’s Instagram statement, starkly contrasts with Rose’s public statement claiming that the well-being of associated individuals is her top priority. This discrepancy between public statements and internal actions raises significant concerns about the leadership’s true commitment to participant safety and well-being.

Organizational Impact and Future Challenges

The fallout from Voigt’s resignation has not been limited to leadership critiques alone; it has sparked a broader conversation about the organizational culture at Miss USA. Following her departure, Miss Teen USA UmaSofia Srivastava and the organization’s social media manager, Claudia Michelle, also resigned. These resignations, cited by sources such as NBC News, point to a deeper discontent within the ranks, suggesting a mismatch between personal values and the direction of the organization. This wave of departures underscores a potential crisis in leadership and could precipitate a critical reevaluation of how the organization is managed and how it interacts with its participants and staff.

As the new Miss USA, Savannah Gankiewicz briefly addressed the controversies during her acceptance, as reported by Hawaii News Now. She expressed empathy for the former titleholders but framed her decision to accept the crown as a commitment to positively impacting the organization. Her remarks highlight a delicate balance between acknowledging past issues and looking towards fostering positive change. However, the effectiveness of her role and the organization’s ability to genuinely reform will be closely watched by both supporters and critics. The pressure is now on the Miss USA leadership to not only address these acute issues but also to restore trust and integrity to a tarnished brand.