Monday, July 9, 2007

More on the Miss New Jersey Blackmail Scandal

CLICK HERE for a video clip and article from Amy Polumbo's interview this morning on NBC's Today with Matt Lauer.
Here are some quotations from the interview:

The packages contained photos that the 22-year-old beauty believes were taken from a password-protected page she maintains for family and friends on Facebook...

“How racy could [the photos] be?” Lauer asked Polumbo. “How damaging could they be?”

“They’re not bad,” she said. “I’m a normal college girl.”

“These are not sexual photos? These are not pornographic photos in any way?” Lauer asked.

“No,” Polumbo said. “I’m not doing anything illegal. No nudity...”

“So then here’s my confusion,” Lauer followed up. “How can you blackmail someone with photos that would OK for your family to see? ... Why not release the photos and move on?”

“It is still being investigated,” Polumbo said.

In other recent news, the runners-up were questioned about their potential involvement. Rumor has it that fans were not pleased when Polumbo was crowned and some were “shocked” because she is extremely new to the pageant system. (Polumbo won her first preliminary pageant and then the state title on her first try; Miss America will be only her third pageant.) CLICK HERE for a Newsday article with quotations from First Runner-up Ronica Licciardello.

Further, Polumbo's attorney has stated that the images are not the issue, but rather the captions under them are "troubling." When you upload photos to Facebook you have the option to add your own caption, and then your friends can comment on the picture…

My question is, were the questionable captions added by Polumbo when she uploaded the photos, or are they the work of the blackmailer? I also want to clarify something else about Facebook; Matt Lauer noted a few times that the photos were okay for friends and family to view. However, by family I’ll bet she means siblings and cousins of her age. I’ve never known anyone’s parent or grandparents to be on Facebook! :) In my last post about this topic I said I believed that the photos “weren’t that bad;” I just wanted to point out that nor are they likely as innocent as the word “family” makes them seem.

Matt Lauer was rather confused by the dichotomy of the situation, but I would have thought most pageant folks would have understood. However, at this point, more and more anonymous fans are beginning to think it’s a publicity stunt. People are really turning against her because she went on the Today Show and she’ll be on the O’Reilly Factor tonight at 8 p.m. (Ugh! I work for a local FOX station, but hate FOX News.)

I think I am so interested in this story because I have always had a problem with juggling the “moral” expectations of being a pageant contestant in comparison to what is acceptable behavior for both pageant officials and contestant’s peers. More on this later…


  1. I used to work in a governor's office and we were schooled over and over to live by the mantra "would you want to read about this in the paper tomorrow morning - would it embarass your family, friends or this office?" I think, while competing in a pageant system, contestants should live by this mantra. Contestants make a choice to compete and should think thoroughly through each and every action. You never know what the future could win on your first try, like Miss NJ and have these things looming over you. Just my opinion. Thanks.

  2. I completely agree. But as you said, she won on her first try. Perhaps, and very likely, she didn't plan on competing until this very year. Maybe she suddenly needed the scholarship money, due to family problems etc.

    I agree that as a young woman she probably regrets letting those photos be taken. But, I know when I was a contestant myself, I read through the "moral pageant code" and thought it was a joke. I think 99% of contestants break it in some way while competing.

    I think it's a case of sour grapes that has been blown out of proportion. I really feel for the girl. We didn't all make a few stupid decisions between the ages of 18-21??

  3. Thank you both for your excellent comments. I agree with both of you, and there again, that’s what makes it hard to be a contestant sometimes.

    A contestant should always think about what she’s doing… that’s why the Tara Conner scandal was so dumbfounding. On the other hand, I understand that there are “normal” college activities, fun times, inside jokes, etc… that seem perfectly fine when you’re in the moment. I can recall more than one instance my last couple years of competing in which my friends wanted me to pose in a “goofy” shot and as much as I would have loved to capture the moment I was having with my friends, I had to say no. They looked at me like I was an 80 year old librarian or something and I took the picture of them doing something stupid and for the most part, innocent!

    Again- that was my last couple of years. I can also totally understand that a woman new to the system, or a local titleholder with little confidence in her competitive level would not realize how seriously she should take this subject. Not to mention the women who just want the exposure and scholarship dollars, but not the state crown…

    Anyway, as much as I hate Bill O’Rielly, his interview actually answered some of the lingering questions. Check it out if you haven’t already:



Thank you so much for taking the time to comment! Your contribution will be moderated before it appears on the blog.