NEW YORK - Reigning Miss America Cara Mund, who was the first North Dakotan crowned Miss America, said it’s “possible” the organization could dethrone her just weeks before a new winner is crowned after breaching her contract, she said in a “Good Morning America” interview Thursday, Aug. 23.
Per the 2018 Miss America contestant contract, because Mund’s appearance Thursday on “GMA” was not a scheduled appearance made by the Miss America organization, she is in violation of her contract and could be fired.
On Friday, Aug. 17, a letter written by Mund to her fellow “Miss America Sisters” circulated online blasting the organization and its leader, Gretchen Carlson, a Minnesotan crowned Miss America in 1989, on claims that the organization bullied and silenced her.
“Our chair and CEO have systematically silenced me, reduced me, marginalized me, and essentially erased me in my role as Miss America in subtle and not-so-subtle ways on a daily basis,” Mund said in the letter.
In the GMA interview, Mund said she started raising concerns back in January, saying that she went to staff members and leadership within the organization and “nothing was being done.” In May, Mund said “as a last option” she began to type a letter to the organization’s board to express her concerns, saying that she “never felt more alone” after going to an individual board member earlier in the year who “didn’t do anything” for her.
“If you want Miss America to be relevant, then the leadership needs to understand she is not a wind-up toy who they can power up to spit out the meaningless words that are put into her mouth, and then put back on the shelf until it’s time to do it again. I do not want her to have to stand in the back, literally or metaphorically,” Mund said in the letter.
In a statement released Aug. 19, Carlson responded to Mund’s letter saying that neither she nor the Miss America organization “have ever bullied or silenced” Mund and that the organization is “very proud of her and all she has accomplished.”
Though she didn’t specifically say from whom, Mund said that at midnight the day after the letter was released that someone “reached out to her” about it.
“I got called at midnight between that Friday and Saturday – again, put in a vulnerable situation,” Mund said. “I had an event the next day … I was sleeping … there was then a call with my former sisters that I wasn’t invited to be on. An email went out saying we were going to discuss the concerns and again, I didn’t have my voice heard.”
In Carlson’s written response, she claimed that as a result of the “explosive allegations” in Mund’s letter, as an organization, they’ve lost $75,000 in scholarships, a claim in which Mund herself disputed in the GMA interview Thursday.
Please see my statement in full below pic.twitter.com/rvmee4es7g
- Gretchen Carlson (@GretchenCarlson) August 20, 2018
“You know, it’s interesting, because we haven’t heard of a sponsor that was giving $75,000 and that sponsor hasn’t been named,” Mund said. “Additionally, sending out this letter I’ve had so much support and two of our sponsors actually messaged me directly and told me they’re proud of the courage I had to stand up for what’s right.”
In her letter, Mund said that the organization has blamed her for sponsors dropping Miss America because she is “bad at social media,” and that she has been banned from posting on the organization’s official social media pages and accounts.
Since Mund’s letter was released on Aug. 19, 20 former Miss America winners have called for Carlson and the entire board’s resignation.
When asked if she had any advice for the next Miss America, Mund said “she’s stronger than she thinks she is, and I really hope that the support I’ve had will carry with her.”
As retribution for the letter, Mund said the organization told her that her final farewell as Miss America would be cut to a total of 30 seconds for the national telecast.
“Not only are they dictating my final appearance, but they are also reducing my final words,” Mund said.
A new Miss America is set to be crowned Sunday, Sept. 9.