A former Miss World America, Marisa Butler, said that winning the crown was “horrible” in an interview with Jezebel. She won the Miss World America title in 2018. The 27-year-old model described her experience of the year she served the title in an interview with Jezebel, and said it left her feeling “silenced and belittled”.
“Being Miss World America was horrible, and I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy,” Butler, who represented the US at Miss World 2018, said..
As Jezebel reported, Butler recalled a moment from October 2019 when Jacob Arabo, the owner of the luxury jeweller Jacob & Co, Jacob Arabo and sponsor of the national pageant, made the model feel uncomfortable at a dining table. He 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.
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.“
In another incident, Butler claimed 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.
“[This experience] severely negatively impacted not only my mental health during that year, but it almost completely altered my relationship with pageants,” Butler said, adding: “I felt so defeated.”
Butler, who is the current Miss Earth USA, referenced the Jezebel article on her Instagram profile on Wednesday (15 December).
“Reliving that experience was something that I never wanted to do,” she wrote.
She further mentioned that the 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.”