Three decades ago, Vanessa Williams stood in front of reporters and resigned her position as Miss America. For months, she had endured death threats and hate mail, but her greatest test came in the form of a nude photo scandal.
Williams' wouldn't be the last pageant drama – not by a long shot. In fact, even as interest in pageants themselves has seemingly waned among Americans, interest in a good pageant scandal has stayed alive. Which bits of media theater captured our interest most? Which women wouldn't give up their crowns without a fight? Here's a look back at some of the biggest "Miss"takes of the past three decades.
Williams winning the title of Miss America was historic: She was the first black woman to take the crown. That tenure was cut short when photos of her taken by photographer Tom Chiapel in 1982 were leaked to Penthouse. The editors chose to publish the nude pictures, and Williams felt pressure to resign her position from pageant coordinators. After she did, however, she went on to huge success in the music and acting fields, becoming arguably the most successful Miss America ever. As she later said, "The best revenge is success."
Miss Teen South Carolina Caitlin Upton was asked why she thought so many Americans can't find their own country on a world map. This was her unedited response:
I personally believe that U.S. Americans are unable to do so because some people out there in our nation don't have maps, and I feel that our education like such as in South Africa and the Iraq, everywhere, like, such as, and I believe that they should, our education over here in the U.S should help the U.S., or should help South Africa, it should help the Iraq and the Asian countries so we will be able to build up our future. For our children.
The scandal explains itself. Pageant host Mario Lopez's sh*t-eating grin at the end there could probably hold up to further scrutiny.