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Beauty queen becomes whistleblower against USA franchise of Miss World pageant

Former Miss World America speaks out amidst today’s Miss World 2021 finals

After a year of mistreatment by pageant organizers, a former Miss World America winner is leading a mission demanding change within the national pageant.

New York City resident Alissa Anderegg, 27, served as Miss World America 2020. In a recent interview with Jezebel, Anderegg detailed how she was “spoken down to, degraded, and gaslighted” by pageant organizers in a pay-to-play environment of corruption and misogyny.

Miss World America is the United States qualifier to the Miss World pageant, the longest-running international beauty pageant. While the finals for this year’s Miss World pageant are tonight in Puerto Rico, Anderegg isn’t representing her country as a contestant— a controversial decision by Miss World America officials that rippled throughout the international pageant community. However, this is far from Anderegg’s only negative experience with the Miss World America pageant organizers.

“Behind the projected smiles and the glamour of what should have been one of the most positive years of my life, the reality was quite different,” said Anderegg in an Instagram post.

In her post, Anderegg, a full-time social media manager and graduate of Duke University and Northwestern University, calls her experience as Miss World America “the most difficult, disheartening time of my life— full of lies, gaslighting, and betrayal that affect me to this day.”

After several phone calls with the Miss World America team where Anderegg said she was ridiculed, manipulated, and spoken down to like a “five-year-old,” she decided she had enough. Rather than sit back, she began gathering evidence to make her case to the Miss World international office that the Miss World America leadership team must be replaced.

Over the next several months, she reached out to former Miss World America winners, contestants, state directors, and sponsors to gather their stories about the Miss World America leadership team. The result is a letter with a 49-page attachment of grievances that Anderegg sent to Miss World officials.

“I knew if I had these awful experiences with the Miss World America team that there had to be others who did as well,” said Anderegg. “While pageants are supposed to empower women, Miss World America was anything but empowering, and I wanted to do all I could to give these women their voice to help them enact change.”

The stories include allegations of harassment, corruption, rule breaking, and inappropriate comments made on social media by the pageant organizers.

Additional court documents detail Miss World America’s “prospective economic relationships with contestants” including with the woman who was appointed to compete in Miss World instead of Anderegg. There was not a 2021 pageant or open application process to select the new representative. 

“I won my crown fairly, I still meet eligibility requirements, and I personally sought out and paid associated costs for 125+ opportunities to promote my title,” said Anderegg. “It’s been draining to see how the 2020 winners from other countries are at Miss World right now while I’m left sitting at home wondering why I’m not there, too.”

Anderegg said that she hoped that bringing her concerns to the Miss World headquarters as the then-current national titleholder would finally spotlight the dire situation in the United States. Instead, nothing happened.

However, Anderegg says she continues to fight for justice, not only for herself but for all the women negatively affected by the Miss World America organization.

“I believe wholeheartedly that pageants can be an amazing opportunity for the women who compete in them,” Anderegg said. “I hope that in sharing these stories, I can help ensure the Miss World America pageant can someday become an opportunity to empower and uplift these women as they deserve.”

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