A former Miss World America said she wouldn't wish being the titleholder on her worst enemy
- Marisa Butler told Jezebel about her time as
Miss World America, calling the experience "horrible."
- Butler said a male sponsor forcibly hand-fed her sushi, and the
pageantdirector didn't intervene.
A former Miss World America said that winning the crown was "horrible" in an interview with Jezebel.
Marisa Butler, 27, won the Miss World America title in 2018. She opened up to Jezebel about the year she served as queen, which she said left her feeling "silenced and belittled."
"Being Miss World America was horrible, and I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy," she told Jezebel.
Butler did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment.
Butler said the Miss World America national director and a pageant sponsor made her feel 'uncomfortable'
As Jezebel reported, Butler said that at a dinner in October 2019, Jacob Arabo, a sponsor of the Miss World America pageant and the owner of the jewelry company Jacob & Co., took her chopsticks and hand-fed her sushi, despite her being noticeably uncomfortable.
A representative for Jacob & Co. denied Butler's claim in a statement to Jezebel. Representatives for Jacob & Co. did not immediately respond to Insider's request for additional comment.
Butler told Jezebel that Michael Blakely, the national director of the pageant, witnessed the incident and did not intervene.
"Michael was sitting right next to me and he was laughing along with Jacob," she told Jezebel.
"He wasn't sticking up for me or saying how inappropriate this was, even though it was very clear that I was in distress and I was uncomfortable," she went on to tell the outlet. "I remember I just wanted to disappear."
"MWA chooses not to comment on hearsay, rumors, speculations, exaggerations, embellishments, nor any other unsubstantiated matters," a representative for Miss World America said in a statement to Insider when contacted for this story.
However, the representative went on to say that no one from the organization has ever "witnessed any inappropriate behavior demonstrated towards any past or present contestants, representatives, partners, vendors, nor anyone directly or indirectly associated with the company."
Butler said Blakely was a source of stress during her year as queen
As reported by Jezebel, Butler said Blakely "pressured" her to sign a "predatory contract" with a talent management company he personally owned, Electra Star Management, that would have made him her manager for three years, even though her reign was only one year.
The contract would have given Blakely a 20% commission on entertainment gifts Butler was given while she was signed with his company, even if the gifts were unrelated to the pageant, according to Jezebel. Miss World America offers no scholarship money for winners.
Jezebel reported that Butler didn't sign the contract at the direction of her lawyer, which she said led Blakely to "taunt" her about it for the duration of her tenure as queen.
When contacted by Insider about the aforementioned contract, the same MWA representative said, "Contestants may be offered management representation, and it is the contestant's sole discretion to choose whether they wish to accept the terms. Contestants are never under any obligation to enter into any representation agreements."
Butler also said Blakely asked her to take a picture in a bikini in front of a Ferrari in honor of "hump day," according to Jezebel. Butler said she denied the request, posing in a dress instead.
"No person from the MWA organization has ever asked any contestant nor any person directly or indirectly associated with MWA to engage in any inappropriate behavior," the Miss World America representative said.
Blakely had never been involved in
Butler said being Miss World America damaged her mental health
She told Jezebel her time as Miss World America "severely negatively impacted not only my mental health during that year, but it almost completely altered my relationship with pageants."
"I felt so defeated," she went on to say to Jezebel.
Butler, who is the current Miss Earth USA, addressed the article in a statement on her Instagram story on Wednesday, writing, "reliving that experience was something that I never wanted to do."
She went on to say that her positive experience with Miss Earth USA gave her the "courage to come forward and say enough is enough."
"I hope no girl ever has to experience that hellish year I had to endure ever again," she said. "Because when done right, pageantry can be one of the most beautiful experiences, and we shouldn't tolerate anything but that in 2022."
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