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New Miss USA Savannah Gankiewicz crowned after former titleholders resign amid controversy

After Miss USA gave up her title earlier this month to focus on her mental health, the Miss USA Organization has crowned a successor, Miss Hawaii USA Savannah Gankiewicz.

Gankiewicz was crowned in Hawaii on May 15, where she was born and raised. She was first-runner up at the 2023 Miss USA pagenat but lost to Miss Utah USA Noelia Voigt.

Voight, however, gave up her crown earlier this month, urging people to prioritize their mental health in a social media post announcing her resignation. The Miss USA organization said they respected her decision and that the "wellbeing of their titleholders is a top priority."

Savannah Gankiewicz
Miss Hawaii 2023 Savannah Gankiewicz at her coronation as the new Miss USA 2023 at Alohilani Resort in Honolulu, Hawaii on May 15, 2024.  Erik Kabik Photography/ MediaPunch via AP

Just days later, Miss Teen USA UmaSofia Srivastava gave up her crown, saying in a statement on social media her "personal values no longer fully align with the direction of the organization." She didn't specify which values were not in alignment.

The New Jersey teen said she is looking forward to completing 11th grade and staring the college application process. 

And just a few days before their resignations, Miss USA social media director Claudia Michelle stepped down, saying she saw a decline in Voigt's mental health and saw Srivastava and her family disrespected

She also alleged titleholders were unable to share their personal advocacies on social media and were threatened by Miss USA's social media rules in guidelines, which she said she still has yet to see. 

"I feel the way current management speaks about their titleholders is unprofessional and inappropriate; I disavow workplace toxicity and bullying of any kind," she wrote on social media. She shared photo of herself with both Srivastava and Voight.

Miss USA social media director Claudia Michelle stepped down from her role, saying she saw a decline in Voigt's mental health and saw Srivastava and her family disrespected. Claudia Michelle

The Miss USA organization said it was troubled by what it called false accusations. "Miss USA is committed to fostering a safe, inclusive, and supportive environment, and we take these allegations seriously," they said in a statement to USA Today, adding that they would transfer the duties of the former title holders to successors.

Last week, Miss Colorado USA Arianna Lemus announced she was resigning, stating on social media she is calling for reform within the Miss USA organization. "I stand in solidarity with Noelia and UmaSofia, former Miss USA and Miss Teen USA 2023, as I step down from my role as Miss Colorado USA," she said in her statement. 

"Noelia and UmaSofia's voices have been stifled by the constraints of a contract that undermines their rights and dignity," she continued. "These remarkable women serve as a poignant reminder of the urgent need for reform within the Miss USA organization."

Gankiewicz commented on her fellow pageant queens' resignations during her coronation on Wednesday. "I empathize with the former titleholders, but I took this as a job and responsibility to really help make a positive impact in this organization that I truly believe in," she told CBS affiliate KGMB. 

In a statement, Gankiewicz said she fully supports and respects Voigt's decision to resign and stands in solidarity with mental health awareness. "I accept the crown knowing that I have been uplifted by my supporters, family, friends, and the people of Hawaii throughout this journey. I accept this title on their behalf.

"To my fellow Miss USA sisters, I believe it's crucial for us to stand united for the future of the organization and the incoming class of 2024 and beyond. I pledge my wholehearted support to the new delegates who have dedicated themselves to their state pageants, and I am committed to ensuring a seamless and memorable transition between Miss USA titleholders."

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