Miss A 1989

Miss America 1989 Gretchen Carlson from Minnesota. Press archive photo.

In the first change to the Miss America Competition since Gretchen Carlson took over as chairwoman of the board, the maximum age of contestants has increased to 25 from 24, according to a spokeswoman.

The change takes effect with this year’s contests, Chelsea Mineur wrote in an email.

Mineur said representatives of the Miss America state executive directors and the Miss America Organization staff drafted the new age-eligibility rules.

A contestant can be no older than 25 on Dec. 31 in the calendar year of their state competition, she wrote.

The change in age is meant to allow more young women pursuing advanced degrees to benefit from the program, Mineur said.

On Friday’s “Good Morning America” show on ABC, Carlson, Miss America 1989, told an interviewer she will make big changes to the Miss America Organization to make it “100 percent about empowering women.”

She also said there is justice in former Miss Americas taking over the organization in the wake of an email scandal in which now-resigned leaders had made lewd and hateful comments about them.

Former CEO and Executive Chairman Sam Haskell, Chief Operating Officer Josh Randle, Board Chairwoman Lynn Weidner and Board Vice Chairwoman Tammy Haddad all resigned after emails surfaced showing them mocking former winners. Some of the worst emails were between Haskell and head writer Lewis Friedman, who is no longer associated with the pageant.

Since then, many other board members have resigned at the urging of former Miss Americas and their supporters, who were upset the board at first tried to defend Haskell even after seeing the emails.

Three other former Miss Americas have since joined the board.

They include Kate Shindle, Miss America 1998, who was the subject of some of the most hateful emails, including one in which MAO leaders joked she should die.

Shindle, now president of Actors Equity, wrote a book critical of MAO finances and leadership after her reign.

The others who joined the board are Laura Kaeppeler Fleiss, Miss America 2012; and Heather French Henry, Miss America 2000.

Carlson, a former Fox News anchor, won a $20 million settlement from Fox News after she filed suit alleging sexual harassment against News Director Roger Ailes about 18 months ago.