Former Miss World America says winning contest was ‘horrible’ and she wouldn’t ‘wish crown on her worst enemy’

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  • Marisa Butler
    American model
Marisa Butler competes in the evening gown competition during the 2016 Miss USA pageant preliminary competition (Getty Images)
Marisa Butler competes in the evening gown competition during the 2016 Miss USA pageant preliminary competition (Getty Images)

Former Miss World America Marisa Butler has said that winning the title was a “horrible” experience.

The 27-year-old model described her experience of the year she served the title in an interview with Jezebel, and said it left her feeling “belittled”.

“Being Miss World America was horrible, and I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy,” Butler, who represented the US at Miss World 2018, said.

Butler recalled a moment from October 2019 when the owner of the luxury jeweller Jacob & Co, Jacob Arabo, made the model feel uncomfortable at a dining table.

Butler claimed that Arabo took away the model’s chopsticks when she attempted to eat sushi, and instead, fed it to her with his own hands as national director Michael Blakey stood by, despite knowing that the pageant titleholder was uncomfortable.

“Michael was sitting right next to me and he was laughing along with Jacob,” Butler said. “He wasn’t sticking up for me or saying how inappropriate this was, even though it was very clear that I was in distress and I was uncomfortable. I remember I just wanted to disappear.”

A PR representative from Jacob & Co denied the chopsticks incident in an email to Jezebel.

The Independent has contacted Arabo and Michael Blakey’s representatives for additional comment.

Butler also claimed that she felt “silenced and belittled” by the organisation’s national leaders during her year-long reign.

In another incident, the model claimed that she was forced to sign a predatory contract for Blakey’s personal talent management company, and he asked her to pose in front of a Ferrari in a bikini in honour of Hump Day. Butler denied the request and posed in a dress instead.

“[This experience] severely negatively impacted not only my mental health during that year, but it almost completely altered my relationship with pageants,” Butler said, adding: “I felt so defeated.”

Butler, who is the current Miss Earth USA, referenced the Jezebel article on her Instagram profile on Wednesday (15 December).

“Reliving that experience was something that I never wanted to do,” she wrote.

She further mentioned that the positive experience with Miss Earth USA gave her the “courage to come forward and say enough is enough.”

“I hope no girl ever has to experience that hellish year I had to endure ever again,” she said. “Because when done right, pageantry can be one of the most beautiful experiences, and we shouldn’t tolerate anything but that in 2022.”

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