Miss Teen USA Says Offensive Tweets Came From "Trying to Fit in With Friends"
On Tuesday's 'GMA,' Karlie Hay apologized for and explained past posts, which surfaced after her weekend pageant victory, in which she used the N-word, cursed and issued threats.
In an appearance on Good Morning America on Tuesday, newly crowned Miss Teen USA Karlie Hay apologized for and offered further insight into the offensive tweets discovered after she won the annual pageant Saturday night in Las Vegas.
Hay, Twitter users discovered, used the N-word and curse words and issued threats in posts from years earlier. On Sunday, the 18-year-old wrote of her earlier tweets, "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. 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. I am honored to hold this title and I will use this platform to promote the values of The Miss Universe Organization, and my own, that recognize the confidence, beauty and perseverance of all women."
The Miss Universe Organization, the parent company of Miss Teen USA, said that while Hay's language was "unacceptable…and in no way reflects the values of The Miss Universe Organization," she would keep her crown.
On Tuesday, Hay said she was "very sorry" for tweets dating back to 2013, calling them "embarrassing."
"It’s something I’m ashamed of and I’ve grown up from that 15-year-old girl who used that type of language," she added. She also claimed that she used that language "to fit in with my friends" and called using words she heard from friends and in music "a careless mistake."
"At that age, I was being a follower. I was trying to fit in with my friends," she said. "The word was thrown around in the music I listened to, with the friends I hung out with and I had no guidance so it was kind of a careless mistake. When the tweet got brought back up I was just like kind of embarrassed, ashamed, and just amazed that I actually at one point in my life thought it was okay to use that word because it’s never okay."
She said she tried to "stay positive" amid the controversy and hopes to do something good with the attention she's received.
"I think that I can turn this message into a positive message because there are people that use that word and it’s not acceptable ever," she told GMA's George Stephanopoulos.
She also said that her past struggles, which she's grown from, aren't an excuse for her offensive language.
"I’ve gone through my own personal struggles, and everyone has their own personal struggles, but that doesn’t give you an excuse to use this type of language or to use any bad language at all," she said. "It goes to show that it can come back and hurt you."
She added, "It has definitely hurt me on the inside forever saying it and it has hurt other people as well."