An Altamont Community High School graduate says she has been stripped of the “2019 Ms. Nevada State” crown and banned from the national Ms. America pageant because of her outspoken support of President Donald Trump and her conservative political views.
She’s wearing a “Trump 2020” hat in her Facebook profile photo. The page is peppered with the kind of praise for Trump and criticism of the left that can be found on the pages of many like-minded conservatives in Effingham County and across the country.
“Antifa is a Terrorist Organization,” says one.
“Democratic Socialists are ruining this country,” declares another. “Along with feminists.”
“I think it’s really important that you’re able to say what you want to say,” Williams, 29, said in an interview with the Effingham Daily News on Wednesday.
She moved to Altamont in 2003. After graduating from high school there in 2008, Williams joined the Army National Guard, serving until 2009. She’s moved multiple times since that service, and now lives in Las Vegas.
In a statement on the Ms. America Pageant website, CEO Susan Jeske said Williams is “distorting the facts.” Jeske said the only thing pageant officials requested of Williams was to make separate Facebook accounts: One personal, where she can post her political opinions, and one representing her as 2019 Ms. Nevada State.
On Monday, Williams published a video on her Facebook page, expressing her frustration at being “censored” by the pageant. By Wednesday afternoon, she was being interviewed by Todd Starnes on FOX News Radio.
She told the EDN that she cooperated with Jeske’s request and felt she was no more violating the pageant’s “no politics” rule than other contestants.
“Basically, what I said in the video was that Susan Jeske ... tried to get me on the phone and to say that she agrees with me and she encourages me and then turns around and on an email and says ‘I don’t agree with what you’re doing. Please take it off,’” Williams said.
“I was pretty flexible with her. She asked me to make two pages. I made two pages. And then she would consistently take my personal (Facebook) screenshots and send them to me and say this is a violation. After a while, I just finally got sick of it.”
Jeske said in the statement that Williams signed an agreement with the pageant confirming she understood the pageant’s rule to refrain from posting “political statements, opinions or anything that could be misconstrued as a political statement or opinion on any form of social media, media or Internet.”
“The Ms. America Pageant is a ‘no politics’ pageant. It is in our rules & regulations as posted on the pageant website and, therefore, available to read before applying to the pageant,” Jeske said in the statement. “It is also included in our contracts and requires handwritten initials and signatures acknowledging that you have read and understood the pageant’s rules.”
Jeske claims that there was nothing on Williams’ Facebook page that contained political statements at the time she was accepted into the pageant.
Williams believes Jeske isolated her. She said other contestants have posted politically related content on their social media pages, which she said she brought to Jeske’s attention. She said Jeske told her she was confused as to what “political” means.
Williams said being disqualified from the pageant was difficult. She spent a lot of time preparing for the national pageant that begins Thursday. But she also feels she let her family and friends down.
“Being disqualified really hurt,” she said. “I’d really done a lot of work to get ready for this pageant. I started a strict diet. I bought this beautiful dress and had it tailored just to me. I traveled all over and did some events. I spent a ton of my own money and I spent a ton of sponsorship money, and four days before the pageant would even start, I’m disqualified and am told I have to send back my crown, send back my sash and I’m never allowed to speak about it again.”
In her Facebook video, Williams said Jeske promised to give her a refund on her entry fee if she agreed to remove the Ms. Nevada State from her social media accounts and any other evidence of her ever receiving the title. The alleged agreement also instructed Williams to not make appearances as Ms. Nevada State, not take further action against the pageant and its employees or post on social media about the pageant and to give her best efforts to get family and friends to abide by the same rules.
Williams said she refused to agree to those terms. Her Ms. Nevada State title was revoked.
“It was more than the title,” Williams said. “My whole life goal was to encourage other women, encourage other people, encourage soldiers to kind of put yourself out there, to not be afraid, to constantly be who you are without any regard for what people think of you. This pageant was kind of a way for me to continue doing that.”
Jeske said the pageant gave Williams a final deadline to edit her Facebook page and delete the political posts, but Williams allegedly refused to do so. Jeske said this refusal is what led to the revocation of Williams’ title.
“This leads the pageant to believe she is no longer capable of representing this pageant as Ms. Nevada State 2019, and she is no longer eligible to participate in the 2019 national pageant,” Jeske said.
Now, Williams has a different goal. She’s working to end censorship on individuals like herself, and has started a campaign and website to do so.
Williams compared her situation with the controversy over NFL players kneeling during the National Anthem to draw attention to police brutality and racism. She doesn’t agree with the players’ actions, but said they shouldn’t be censored.
“With the kneeling in the NFL football, do I agree with it? No. I don’t like it. I think that anybody who speaks against the country that is so great – it’s not really a good look for them,” Williams said. “At the same time, I fought for those freedoms for people to say what they want, do what they want and live a life with liberty and the pursuit of happiness as long as they don’t infringe on those rights of others.”
“Whether you agree with my views or not, I think it’s really important that you’re able to say what you want to say,” she added. “I want to make sure nobody is limited, and that’s part of the reason why I started speaking out.
“I’m just tired of it.”
Examples of Katie Williams’ social media posts:(tncms-asset)fb36fbac-bea6-5351-aec2-3b0cc0335162(/tncms-asset)(tncms-asset)e97601dc-1420-59b9-9494-bea2060ae95f(/tncms-asset)