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Former Miss Arizona accuses organization of lying, bullying

Posted at 6:50 PM, Oct 10, 2018
and last updated 2018-10-11 08:50:29-04

A former Miss Arizona is accusing local pageant officials of bullying her and lying on her resume. 

"There were so many days where I just wanted to say this is not cool, this is not OK, but in the contract, it says that they can take my crown at any time and that's the last thing I wanted," Madi Esteves, Miss Arizona 2015, told ABC15. 

Esteves posted a letter on social media, saying she was inspired by Miss America 2018 Cara Mund -- who accused the national organization of bullying -- to speak out. 

Esteves said Miss Arizona pageant leaders forced her to change the name of her charitable cause -- from "Don't 'Diss' Abilities" to "Empowering the Disabled" -- and lied when submitting a resume to the Miss America organization that showed Esteves was studying business at Arizona State University when she was actually studying communications at Chandler-Gilbert Community College. 

She claims pageant leaders forced her to change her appearance by cutting and dying her hair and choosing the outfits she wore during the national pageant. 

"Having them change my look, change my resume, they weren't accepting me for who I was," she said. 

Miss Arizona President Cathy Herd spoke with ABC15 on behalf of the organization's board of directors. She called the allegations "entirely false" and said resume items submitted to Miss America were derived from a questionnaire completed by Esteves. 

She said the reference to Arizona State University represented the then 20-year-old's "scholastic ambition." 

Herd called Esteves' reign as Miss Arizona "a very different year" and said board members witnessed "unbecoming behavior" from her, though she declined to elaborate as a matter of decorum. 

"It seemed like it was difficult for her to fulfill her obligations because the role takes a lot of maturity and on many, many occasions we sat down to try and forge a constructive, positive work relationship and to have open communication about what her frustrations were," Herd said. 

Esteves admitted there were times she "fired back" but said she was never rude and always respectful. 

"I can be a little outspoken ...I want to be myself," she said.