The 2023 Miss Teen USA runner-up, Stephanie Skinner, declined to take the crown after winner UmaSofia Srivastava decided to step down.

“It was an extremely hard decision to make,” Skinner, 19, told People in an article published on Monday, May 13. “I worked so hard and sacrificed so much for this goal to become Miss Teen USA and although this title was a dream of mine, I believe one thing I will never give up is my character.”

Skinner’s refusal comes amid a string of controversies that have plagued the organization in recent weeks. On May 6, Miss USA winner Noelia Voigt announced her decision to step down as the winner of Miss USA 2023 in a lengthy message via Instagram.

“I realize this may come as a large shock to many,” Voigt, 24, captioned her Instagram post. “Never compromise your physical and mental well-being. Our health is our wealth. A million thank you’s to all of you for your constant and unwavering support. Time to write the next chapter.”

One eagle-eyed Instagram user pointed out that the first letter of the first 11 sentences ​in the post spelled out, “I AM SILENCED,” which sent fans into a flurry of speculation. Voigt has yet to address fans’ concerns about the seemingly secret message.

Srivastava, 17, followed suit two days later and said that her “personal values no longer fully align with the direction of the organization” via Instagram.

Miss Teen USA Runner-Up Declines Title After Winner Resigns
Chance Yeh / Getty Images

“After months of grappling with this decision, I have made the choice to resign from the title of Miss Teen USA 2023,” Srivastava explained. “I will always look back on my time as Miss NJ Teen USA fondly, and the experience of representing my state as a first generation, Mexican-Indian American at the national level was fulfilling in itself.”

The Miss USA organization, along with its president Laylah Rose, addressed both of the women’s decision to resign in nearly identical social media posts. In both statements, the organization said that they “respected” Srivastava’s and Voigt’s decision to step down and promised fans that they were currently working on replacement title holders for each division.

In Voigt’s official resignation letter, ​the pageant winner claimed that Rose was “actively building a culture of fear and control, the antithesis of women’s empowerment, that is causing a toxic workplace that is unsafe for future titleholders and employees, according to ABC News.

“It is important that I make this abundantly clear: the toll that this treatment, experience, and abuse has taken on me will have long-lasting impacts on my health,” Voigt added, per ABC News. “This is unfortunately not something that will magically disappear. I know the harsh reality of that fact, and I will not continue to allow myself to feel victimized anymore.”

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