The newly crowned Miss Teen USA came under fire for reportedly tweeting a racial slur multiple times about three years ago.
Shortly after Texas teen Karlie Hay’s win at the competition in Las Vegas on Saturday, Twitter users blasted her for repeatedly using the n-word on what seems to be a personal account between 2013 and 2014. Users shared screenshots of the offensive tweets from an account, which is now private, with her name and photo.
The 18-year-old made a statement of apology on her Instagram and Twitter accounts.
“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,” Hay wrote. “I admit that I have used language publicly in the past which I am not proud of and that there is no excuse for. 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.”
The Miss Universe Organization responded to the backlash in a statement to ABC 13.
“As Karlie stated, she was in a different place in her life and made a serious mistake she regrets and for which she sincerely apologizes,” the statement read. The organization condemned Hay’s language but showed its support for Hay by saying it is “committed to supporting her continued growth.”
Neither of the statements satisfied social media users, especially given that the organization had been called out earlier for the top five pageant finalists being blonde-hair, blue-eyed white teens. Twitter users didn’t hold back, as some felt Hay deserved to face a harsher consequence.
It’s unlikely that Hay will lose her crown, but since Miss Teen USA women are “savvy, goal-oriented and aware,” according to their website, it will be interesting to see what social justice endeavors she takes on with her newfound self.