Miss Teen USA 2016 winner Karlie Hay has spoken out after racial slurs she allegedly made several years ago resurfaced. The Texan beauty queen, who won the pageant competition on 30 July in Las Vegas, admits she is "not proud" of her offensive language. The Miss Universe Organisation have stated they are supporting the model through the controversy.
Hay, 18, is alleged to have used the N-word in tweets which were posted by the beauty queen in 2013 and now reposted by a social media user. Addressing the backlash, Hay wrote on Instagram: "Several years ago, I had many personal struggles and found myself in a place that is not representative of who I am as a person. I admit that I have used language publicly in the past which I am not proud of and that there is no excuse for."
She continued: "Through hard work, education and thanks in large part to the sisterhood that I have come to know through pageants, I am proud to say that I am today a better person. I am honoured to hold this title and I will use this platform to promote the values of The Miss Universe Organisation, and my own, that recognise the confidence, beauty and perseverance of all women."
Defending their Miss Teen USA winner, the organisation admitted that while Hay's language was unacceptable, the beauty queen is apologetic about her comments. In their own statement, the board said: "The language Karlie Hay used is unacceptable at any age and in no way reflects the values of The Miss Universe Organisation.
"As Karlie stated, she was in a different place in her life and made a serious mistake she regrets and for which she sincerely apologises. Karlie learned many lessons through those personal struggles that reshaped her life and values. We as an organisation are committed to supporting her continued growth."
Many are still not convinced by Hay's apology and have called for the organisation to take back the crown. One commented: "Congrats to the new @MissTeenUSA, Karlie Hay... who apparently has an affinity for RACIAL SLURS #TakeHerCrown," while another said: "Please dethrone @MissTeenUSA Karlie Hay. Using racial slurs (whether in the past or present) can never be justified as a mistake #MissTeenUSA."
Hay has also received criticism from former Miss Teen USA Kamie Crawford, who tweeted: "I can take the #missteenusa top 5 being an all white, all blonde top 5. What I can't take is - why didn't the winner clean up her page? If u win any pageant - first things first. Clean up ur page. Cus if ur under 21 u shouldn't b drinking&if ur WHITE the n word ain't yo word!"