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Statement From Field Director of Miss WA Pageant

7/9/2008 12:33 PM PDT BY TMZ STAFF

Elyse Umemoto is an outstanding young woman and has been a brilliant representative for the Miss Washington Scholarship Organization. We continue to be very proud of her. She is known for her raucous sense of humor and clowning around. It is unfortunate that her behavior in unguarded moments has attracted attention.
The Miss Washington Scholarship Organization is embarrassed by the pictures you have seen. We do not condone the behaviors depicted in these photos. However, there will be no discipline for Elyse based on the behavior evidenced in the photos. None of them depict illegal behavior or cross a line that cannot be uncrossed. Elyse feels very bad about how this attention affects her reputation and that of our organization. We will treat this as a growth opportunity, both for Elyse and for our other contestants, one of whom will soon be Elyse's successor. The lesson will be that if you choose to appear to challenge the boundaries of good taste you better be sure that the environment is safe. Photographs, like words, can be taken out of context, and once a photograph is recorded it is available forever and there is no way to control its distribution. Nobody goes through life without occasionally letting their guard down and acting foolishly. Title holders will be reminded that they are public figures and role models whose lives will be scrutinized, especially by those who take pleasure in exposing imperfections, however slight. Elyse will not be the last young person whose clowning behaviors will give the wrong impression to people who do not know her. We can only work toward ensuring that the attention these pictures have generated will be a cautionary tale for all of the title holders in our organization.

We consider mentoring the young women in our program to be one of our primary responsibilities. It is a difficult lesson for some young people to learn that their fun-loving behavior before friends can be used against them. When trust is violated the pain is deep. We do not yet know which of her friends, or former friends, may have betrayed her by posting these photographs. All we know for certain is that they were posted by someone who is bent on damaging the image of an amazing young woman.

To paraphrase Shakespeare, this seems to be much ado about nothing. Many young people clown around and act silly in private in ways that they would never consider in public arenas. We would hope that they could always trust their friends, but the realities of human nature teach us that trust is hard to come by.

I can understand the interest of the media in pursuing these photographs to see if there is a story of substance associated with them. It would be our hope that the media would understand that there is no deeper story, unless it is one of betrayal and the anguish that it brings. The MWSO and Elyse will hold our heads high and weather whatever comes, even though this incident should not register a blip on the Richter scale. We will trust the legitimate media to be skilled enough at their jobs to realize that there is no story here and move on to real news that matters to the public welfare.

Thank You,
"Leadership Through Scholarship"

Michael R. "Mike" Miller
MWSO Executive Field Director


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Children acting as children. I guess my thought is perhaps this child was/is not ready for adult responsibility. Outside beauty does not indicate wisdom or readiness to perform in an adult world. If she were not 'set up' as a role model, her behavior would not be displayed for the world to judge. Since she DOES hold the position of role model, she should be held accountable.

To those to whom much has been given, much is expected..........

2266 days ago


What happened to our role models. Where are they getting these woman.What a bad representatation for Washington. Yuk!!!!

2266 days ago


Normal behavior???? Are you kidding me! She is supposed to be a role model for God sake!

2266 days ago


Ugh! But with roles models likes Paris, Britney and Lindsay, this type of behavior is no surprise. I have not supported or watched thee "beauty contests" for years as it is all fake and there's very little beauty in them. Yes, in college, we did do crazy things in private, but not nearly as distasteful. We certainly did not "advertise" them either. Having been born and raised in Seattle, I AM embarassed. I would rather hear about the two young baseball players that helped a young woman injured win the game that ended in their own team's defeat. They are young women to be proud of because they did what was right and what the term "sportmanship" is all about. This --- this is about a young woman, too immature to realize that she could be a role model for young girls. And she represents "Leadership in Scholarship?"

2266 days ago


if one wants to be "Miss Washington" , i think a big part of those competitions is to be a role model. it's one thing to drink, it's another to take pictures of it and have it circulate whether you wanted it to or not. this shows extreme irresponsibility on the school's behalf .. and anyone that views the pictures can obviously see they are from several different instances. is she sorry? HELLLL NOOOO . will she have to live with STDS and be the washington area skank bag, YES! it's extremely selfish to go into something with the attitude 'like, i wanna win a pageant!' instead of, i wanna win a pageant, but i also need to be the kind of person who SHOULD be winning. i can't believe them .

2266 days ago

former pagent contestant    

pretty is as pretty does.

2266 days ago


Mike Miller has made a big mistake. Why is Mike Miller not removing her title!!! She is an embarrassment to the Miss America Organization and definitely NO PRIZE PERSON to have ever been representing Miss Washington. I find the lack of action to do the right thing to remove her title (albeit only a few days left), a worst than poor decision my Mike Miller. By his actions he is sending a clear message that Miss Washington doesn’t really care about the behavior that it’s winners do and you can be Miss Washington by having the kind of behavior that Elyse Umemoto has displayed. I viewed his letter; her so called apology and the shameless photos and I cannot believe that Mike has taken the position to DO NOTHING of real consequence to Miss Umemoto. I find it interesting when he blames her actions on the media and her friends. Pardon me, but I don’t think the media was in the room when she was having her friends take pictures in her with her camera in uncompromising gestures and behavior. I AM SHOCKED that as the older adult and board member, Mike merely passes it off. So what’s next for Miss Umemoto?…. Playboy!??!!?? I further find it laughable that her platform is diversity and empowering women. She certainly does little to empower women by these photos. They merely show her severe immaturity as an adult; lack of any moral compass and disrespect for the Miss America, Miss Washington and Miss Seattle Organizations. If anything she is definitely NOT the role model I would want for any young girl or any other women!! AND PLEASE- -forget about empowering women… Don’t EVEN GO THERE!

MIKE and the Miss Washington organization need to take her title away and she needs to step down from having held the honorable position of Miss Washington. She has tarnished the reputation of Miss America; Miss Washington and Miss Seattle. Further she adds to the negative view of pageants. I cannot believe that her fellow past Miss Washingtons who have held the title can possibly even want to be associated with her or anyone else for that matter. Sadly she has nothing of value to offer based on her platform (diversity and empowering women) and she has only done this on her own. No one made her take those photos. She allowed them to occur and it appears very happily. Her friends were merely willing to show her as she really is by capturing her in her normal state. Too bad she really isn't who she says she is and merely a girl headed no where especially since her 15 minutes of fame will end shortly.

2266 days ago

sandra dandra    

Mike is right it is much to do about nothing. No her crown shouldn't be taken away yes those tightasses that think it should need to get a life in the real world. geez... Puritans = hippocrites

2266 days ago

Hugh Hefner    

Relax, EVERYBODY! In the immortal words of Cyndi Lauper, "Girls just wanna have fun!" Me? I'm going to do my best to get this smokin' chick in the centerfold of MY magazine. Perhaps you've HEARD of it?

2266 days ago


I was a former contestant of the 2005 Miss Pierce County Scholarship Pageant Program, where Elyse began. The following year my best friend competed in the same competition with Elyse and Elyse won the title that year. I didn't know her well, but in the few encounters I had with her and the many my best friend had with her she seemed like a very nice, genuine, and bright person. It's easy to judge when you're on the other side of the computer screen reading about a "scandal" that you have no involvement in. It's not like she was caught doing drugs or performing in sex tapes. She was joking around with her girlfriends, something that we all do. And yes, she was drinking...she's over 21. Yes she was sticking her toung out...she's a fun person not afraid to look silly for the sake of a good laugh. Yes, she flipped the camera's a piece of equipment, I'm sure it's feelings were not hurt (furthermore if anyone has never in their lives said a curse word or flipped something off, then maybe you could join a convent, I hear they're recruiting). Point is, people are people. Of course we're going to act accordingly in different situations. When we're parents, we act differently than when we're bosses at work, when we're out dancing with our friends we act differently than when we're at sunday brunch with our grandparents. That's part of the social dynamics that creat multi-faceted and interesting people. So instead of shaming her, shame on those who judge her and shame on those who betrayed her. And just remember that we all have pieces of our lives that we hope would never be broadcast like hers.

2266 days ago

al lang    

I am glad the Director has common sense and I totally agree with her being able to keep her crown. It is just innocent fun, leave her alone, let her keep her crown.

2266 days ago


Forget the provocative pictures, she should be stripped fpr havinf such fat,disgusting friends!!!!! Also, someone should tell her to shave the sideburns!!!!!!

2266 days ago


I grew up in, yes literally in, the Puget Sound. Though Californian now, I'm all Washingtonian in spirit. I say good for you Mike Miller. And Kudos to you organization. It's about freakin time we all slough the judgment of others... Everyone deserves a chance in this world.

2266 days ago


Hurray for the Field Director and the official statement. Yes, the picture is unfortunate, but who is so "squeaky clean" that they can cast the first stone?? I applaud the tremendous support offered by the Organization, the common sense and the possibility of seeing beyond the blinders that obscure the eyes of those who condemn. This phrase is so over-used, but still totally appropriate to those who are judging on the basis of a single photo: "Get a Life!"

2266 days ago

Bobby Sahlen    

Give me a break. All I saw in those pictures was a lot of horsing around and general sillliness. Wow, let's lighten up a little people. The Washington State Field Director had the appropriate response.

2266 days ago
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