Miss USA Teen 2023 runner-up declines the title after the winner stepped down

Tuesday, May 14, 2024 - Miss USA Teen 2023 first runner-up Stephanie Skinner has refused to accept the crown after the winner stepped down.

The news comes after a shocking beauty pageant scandal, which saw both Miss USA 2023 and Miss Teen USA 2023 announcing that they were resigning within days of each other amid reports of bullying and harassment.

Miss USA Noelia Voigt, 24, first shared her surprise resignation via Instagram, explaining that she wanted to focus on her “physical and mental well-being.”

It was then followed by 17-year-old Miss Teen USA UmaSofia Srivastava announcing she too was stepping down because her personal values “no longer fully align with the direction of the organization.”

Now, Miss New York  Teen USA Stephanie, 19, who was the first runner-up of the Miss Teen USA pageant, has revealed that she was offered the crown but ultimately refused it because she can't “give up [her] character.”

Stephanie, 19, told People in an interview published May 13: "I worked so hard and sacrificed so much for this goal to become Miss Teen USA and although this title was a dream of mine, I believe one thing I will never give up is my character."

While the Miss New York Teen USA admitted that it was an "extremely difficult" choice to make, she said she was confident that it was "the right decision."

Stephanie's rejection of the title arrives less than a week after UmaSofia, 17, shared that she was leaving behind her Miss Teen USA role in the wake of Miss USA 2023 winner Noelia Voigt's resignation.

"After careful consideration," UmaSofia wrote in a May 8 Instagram post, "I've decided to resign as I find that my personal values no longer fully align with the direction of the organization."

Her statement further adds to the speculation about the dark underbelly surrounding the pageant.

“Hi everyone. As many of you know, on August 6, 2023, I was crowned Miss New York Teen USA 2023,” Stephanie wrote on Instagram on Sunday, May 12.

She went on to note that she had put “every ounce of [her] being” into achieving her dream of winning and “sacrificed” many things in her life.

The 19-year-old explained that her life changed when she was awarded Miss Teen USA runner-up and was given the opportunity to take up the crown when UmaSofia stepped down.

She added: “In light of recent events, I have decided to decline the title of Miss Teen USA 2023. This was not an easy decision. I hope for respect of my choice as this was a decision I never asked to make. My word is my everything.”

In her announcement, Stephanie made her opinions on the previous winners extremely clear as she noted that she stood with them.

“In addition, although I don't know what Uma and Noelia went through to lead them to resign, I am sending them immense love and support. What I do know is that my core values are integrity, honor, kindness, and most importantly, I will always stand for female empowerment,” she said.

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