Speaking up

Reigning Miss America Cara Mund ramps up criticism of Gretchen Carlson on morning TV

Miss America Cara Mund (Donald Kravitz/Getty Images for Dick Clark Productions)

Miss America winner Cara Mund, who in a letter last week accused Miss America chairperson Gretchen Carlson of deliberately silencing and marginalizing her, appeared on Good Morning America Thursday for her first televised interview since the public release of the letter.

In a public statement addressing Mund’s criticism, Carlson had denied the Miss America winners claims of bullying, suggested that Mund never tried to address her concerns with her personally, and accused her of sending “a negative ripple effect across the organization” that cost them a $75,000 scholarship. Speaking with GMA, Mund replied to Carlson’s statement by reiterating that she had long sought to have her complaints heard by leadership through multiple avenues — including by speaking with multiple board members whom she said did nothing to help her after she told them she had “never felt more alone.” Carlson’s suggestion that she was dodging her calls, she added, was deliberately disingenuous.

“I knew that I had to stand up, not just for me but for all of the volunteers and new girls,” said Mund. “I didn’t get reached out to until midnight the day after I released the letter … There was a PEOPLE exclusive from Gretchen, she still hadn’t reached out at that point. The organization put out a message basically saying that my claims were not true and that I hadn’t gone to anyone. And then I got called at midnight between that Friday and Saturday — again putting me in a vulnerable situation. 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’re going to discuss the concerns,’ and again I didn’t have my voice heard.”

Carlson’s claim that Mund had cost the organization a $75,000 scholarship by speaking out, she added, came across as a transparent attempt at silencing her once more. Just by appearing on the program, Mund acknowledged, she was risking a breach of contract that could allow Carlson to dethrone her if she so chose. Mund has under two months remaining in her term as Miss America.

“We hadn’t heard of any sponsor giving $75,000, and that sponsor hasn’t been named,” she said. “Sending out this letter, I’ve had so much support, and two of our top sponsors actually messaged me directly and told me they were proud of the courage to stand up for what’s right.”

Following Mund’s letter, 19 former Miss Americas and representatives from 22 state pageants have signed a petition calling for Carlson’s resignation, as well as that or Miss America President and CEO Regina Hopper and the rest of the organization’s board.

Watch video of Mund’s appearance on GMA below.

Read the full story at USA Today.

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