3Qs: Sam Haskell, Miss America Organization chairman

HASKELL

HASKELL

Miss Mississippi Chelsea Rick, a Fulton native and Miss Amory Railroad Festival, will be on TV screens across the country today as she competes for Miss America.

The pageant will be broadcast at 8 p.m. on ABC stations, and Amory native Sam Haskell, chairman of the Miss America Organization, has been busy behind the scenes. Haskell recently spoke with the Daily Journal’s M. Scott Morris about the pageant.

Q: How has the move to Atlantic City affected the energy level at Miss America?

A: The energy level at Miss America has been greatly enhanced since moving back to Atlantic City.

Sponsor participation has been increased, and the Show Me Your Shoes Miss America Parade will be attended by 200,000 people along the 4-mile parade route. Local businesses, law enforcement officials, the governor, the lieutenant governor and the attorney general are all engaged to help us assure that our return to New Jersey is a resounding success!

Q: How has the city embraced the return?

A: They have placed giant Miss America posters at every bus stop, and covered all of their transit busses and shuttles with Miss America photos.

They have hung huge banners along Atlantic Avenue promoting the telecast, and they have erected an 8-foot bronze statue of Miss America 2013, Mallory Hagan, outside Boardwalk Hall in Kennedy Plaza to commemorate our return home to Atlantic City. It’s truly a win/win for us all!

Q: How are you able to stay neutral when Miss Mississippi has Amory connections?

A: Chelsea Rick is a beautiful and talented representative for the great state of Mississippi. It is easy to remain neutral about each of our 53 contestants because I am not a judge. I run the organization and executive produce the live telecast for ABC with Tony Eaton, Lauren Harris and Sharon Pearce.

I’m proud that Chelsea has Amory and Northeast Mississippi connections, and I know so many people are rooting for her in the competition. All 53 national finalists are treated equally by me and the Miss America staff. They are all winners in my book!

My focus is on maintaining the scholarship arm of the organization, helping to develop new sponsorship relationships, making sure each of our national state winners has the experience of a lifetime while competing for the title of Miss America, and assuring ABC that our telecast choices are top-notch and thoroughly entertaining.