Pop Culture

‘I am silenced’: Did Miss USA leave a secret message in her resignation?

The beauty pageant world has its fair share of drama, but the sudden resignation of both Miss USA and Miss Teen USA has left fans and internet sleuths speculating about bullying, non-disclosure agreements and maybe even a hidden message.

Noelia Voigt, who was crowned Miss USA in 2023, on Monday announced that she would be resigning her title in order to protect her mental health. The lengthy statement alone was enough to shock pageant fans, but intrigue grew when eagle-eyed admirers noticed what they said is a secret message in Voigt’s statement: “I am silenced.”

The sneaky alleged communication appears to be an acrostic, with the first letter of every sentence spelling out the secret message — that is, until the final three sentences, which begin with the letters H, I and P.

“Deep down I know that this is just the beginning of a new chapter for me, and my hope is that I continue to inspire others to remain steadfast, prioritize your mental health, advocate for yourself and others by using your voice, and never be afraid of what the future holds, even if it feels uncertain,” Voigt wrote.

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“Never compromise your physical and mental well-being. Our health is our wealth.”

Voigt, a 24-year-old Venezuelan American from Utah, held the Miss USA title for seven months. She also represented the U.S. at the Miss Universe pageant. She has neither confirmed or denied the acrostic.

Only two days after Voigt’s resignation, UmaSofia Srivastava, who was named Miss Teen USA in November 2023, handed in her crown as well.

In a statement, Srivastava, 17, said she was resigning because “my personal values no longer fully align with the direction of the organization.”


UmaSofia Srivastava’s statement of resignation as Miss Teen USA.


Instagram @umasofias

She did not elaborate further.

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“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,” Srivastava wrote.

On Thursday, Voigt told People magazine she did not know Srivastava was also planning to step down.


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The dual resignations triggered a wave of still-growing intrigue on social media. Beauty pageant fans and curious netizens alike have speculated Miss USA and Miss Teen USA may have stepped down over alleged bullying and a toxic workplace. Others surmised Voigt may have created the secret message because she is under a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) and is not permitted to speak publicly.

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As speculation and conspiracy snowballed online, several former Miss USA winners released a joint statement in support of Voigt. The statement maintained that Voigt is under an NDA.

“We are asking the Miss USA Organization to release Noelia from the confidentiality NDA clause of her contract, in perpetuity, so that she is free to speak on her experiences and time as Miss USA,” the statement reads. “Our goal is to give Noelia her voice back.”

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Laylah Rose, the CEO and president of the Miss USA Organization, said on Wednesday her goal is “to inspire women to always create new dreams, have the courage to explore it all, and continue to preserve integrity along the way.”

“I hold myself to these same high standards and I take these allegations seriously,” she wrote. “Please be assured that the well-being of all individuals associated with Miss USA is my top priority.”

Rose did not explain specifically which allegations she was referring to.

Claudia Michelle, a former Miss USA social media director, resigned from her position on Saturday, days before Voigt, citing a lack of funding and support from the company. Michelle said she “worked without compensation” for the first two months of her employment with the Miss USA Organization.

She said she personally witnessed a decline in Voigt’s mental health, as well as “disrespect” toward Srivastava and her family.

Michelle also wrote assistant national directors within the company were recently “let go” for undisclosed reasons.

“I feel the way current management speaks about their titleholders is unprofessional and inappropriate; I disavow workplace toxicity and bullying of any kind,” Michelle wrote in her statement.

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Shanna Moakler, a former Miss USA and one of the organization’s executives, released a statement following Srivastava’s resignation.

Moakler said she and other executives “are not sitting silently; we are working our best behind the scenes to ensure the future of an organization we love dearly.”

She said the organization is dedicated to the emotional well-being of all contestants and strives to support titleholders in reaching all of their personal goals.

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“Not every year is perfect, and personalities can clash; being a titleholder is a job and not one that fits everyone, either,” Moakler wrote.

Crowning the new Miss USA 2023

On Thursday, the Miss USA Organization announced Miss Hawaii USA, Savannah Gankiewicz, will take over the crown. Gankiewicz placed second in the 2023 Miss USA pageant.

“I fully support and respect Noelia’s decision to step down, and I stand in solidarity with mental health awareness,” Savannah said in the announcement. “I accept the crown knowing that I have been uplifted by my supporters, family, friends, and the people of Hawaii throughout this journey. I accept this title on their behalf.”

“To my fellow Miss USA sisters, I believe it’s crucial for us to stand united for the future of the organization and the incoming class of 2024 and beyond,” she continued. “I pledge my wholehearted support to the new delegates who have dedicated themselves to their state pageants, and I am committed to ensuring a seamless and memorable transition between Miss USA titleholders.”

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Gankiewicz’s coronation is scheduled for May 15.


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