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Miss Teen USA Pageant Stands by Winner Karlie Hay After N-Word Tweets Surface

The Miss Universe Organization will not take away the crown she won on Saturday

The Miss Teen USA pageant is standing behind 2016 winner Karlie Hay after it was discovered she used the n-word in tweets several years ago.

The Miss Universe Organization, which runs the pageant, issued a statement stating that Hay “made a serious mistake” and has changed since the time she made the controversial remarks.

“The language Karlie Hay used is unacceptable at any age and in no way reflects the values of The Miss Universe Organization,” a statement obtained by TheWrap reads. “As Karlie stated, she was in a different place in her life and made a serious mistake she regrets and for which she sincerely apologizes. Karlie learned many lessons through those personal struggles that reshaped her life and values. We as an organization are committed to supporting her continued growth.”

Hay removed the tweets and apologized, blaming her use of the word on “many personal struggles.” She has alluded to dysfunction in the past, including a history of substance abuse among some members of her family.

The controversy erupted just hours after critics slammed the Miss Teen USA pageant, which is controlled by the Miss Universe Organization, for having five white, blonde finalists who looked remarkably alike.

Many Twitter users slammed Hay for her apology and suggested that she deserved tougher punishment. Some suggested she should lose her crown.

See a screenshot of her offensive tweets below.