Tainted Tiaras: Beauty Queen Blackmailed

Miss New Jersey Amy Polumbo said someone wants her to relinquish her crown.

ByABC News via logo
February 10, 2009, 8:10 AM

July 7, 2007 — -- For the last eight decades, Miss America has reigned supreme as the crème de la crème of beauty pageants.

But for some contestants, competing for the crown can be less than pretty. Miss New Jersey said someone is blackmailing her with some old photographs and demanded she relinquish her crown.

"I'm presently the victim of blackmail and possible extortion," said Miss New Jersey Amy Polumbo.

And Polumbo's not the only beauty queen to face trouble in past years.

Actress and singer Vanessa Williams was forced to give up her title as Miss America 1984 when nude photos surfaced.

And just last year, Donald Trump granted Miss USA Tara Conner a reprieve after rumors of drug and alcohol abuse.

"In no way did I think that it would be possible for a second chance to be given to me," Conner said at the time.

She kept her crown, but went to rehab.

And when racy pictures of Miss Nevada USA Katie Rees were splashed across the Internet, the first runner-up took the title.

"I think we live in this information age, and what the young women don't necessarily realize now is that this is accessible to everyone, the information," said Miss California USA Executive Director Keith Lewis. "Everything that they do, everything they say, every picture that is taken of them is available to everyone."

Rees said it is difficult for present day contestants, but it doesn't mean they are unable to set good examples.

"If you ask me, a role model is someone who may have made mistakes in the past and may have done things that they are not proud of, but they have prevailed and overcome that," she said.

Professional pageant host and consultant Jim Gibson said a pageant is only as good as its contestants.

"The Paris Hilton stories of the world, the Britney Spears stories of the world, all of these types of things that are supposed role models have changed in many ways the contestants that are now in pageants," he said.

Rees said Miss New Jersey's future may not be picture perfect.

"If her pictures come out, and Lord knows if they were anything like mine, I know that she will probably be very regretful," she said.

Polumbo hopes to compete in the 2008 Miss America Pageant, but she said someone else wants to interfere with that goal.

"Recently, I, along with pageant officials, received an anonymous letter threatening to send certain photos of me from past years to the media unless I immediately relinquish my crown and title as Miss New Jersey," she said.

Polumbo refused to give in or give up her crown.

Those photos were taken before Amy Polumbo was crowned Miss New Jersey. Her lawyer said the pictures aren't that bad -- just her with some friends. But someone out there thinks she should lose her title.

Polumbo said her blackmailers gave her a deadline of Friday to step down. The deadline has passed, she still is Miss New Jersey and none of the photographs have been released to the media.

Next, she will appear before the local chapter of the Miss America organization next week. The board will decide whether she gets to keep her crown.

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