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Miss America’s CEO Apologizes to Vanessa Williams

Nearly 32 years after a controversy over nude photos resulted in Vanessa Williams having her Miss America title vacated, the organization welcomed Williams back at Sunday night’s pageant with an apology for how the situation was handled.

Miss America CEO Sam Haskell welcomed Williams, who was also serving as a judge at this year’s pageant, and offered her an apology, saying to Williams, “You have lived your life with grace and dignity… On behalf of today’s organization, I want to apologize.”

Williams, who became the first African-American woman to be crowned Miss America, called the apology, “unexpected, but so beautiful.”

Williams,who won Miss America in 1983, was forced to give up the crown in 1984 when Penthouse magazine published nude photographs taken of Williams in 1982. While Williams, who said she was pressured to resign by pageant organizers, was allowed to keep the prize money, those funds were used to pay attorney’s fees in her lawsuit against Penthouse and the photographer who released the photos. That lawsuit was eventually dropped. Despite the scandal, however, Williams has led a very successful career in music, theater and acting for both television and film.

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