Miss South Carolina Brooke Mosteller said she didn’t come up with her controversial joke about mobile homes at the Miss America pageant Sunday, and she wishes she had paid attention to her instincts that told her it was a bad idea.
“The state organization wrote it for me, and when I first heard it, I thought of course I can’t say that, because it could be taken as demeaning and insensitive,” said Mosteller, who lives in Mount Pleasant. “But everybody recommended that I say it, and they took it as a joke.”
The Miss South Carolina Scholarship Organization put out an apology Wednesday.
“The introductory statement for Miss South Carolina Brooke Mosteller was decided collectively with the Miss South Carolina Scholarship Organization in an attempt to be creative and humorous,” the statement said. “We regret that it was perceived as insensitive and we apologize to our fellow South Carolinians who may have been offended.”
Mosteller said she read the statement before it was sent out but felt she needed to say more.
Pageant organizers told the contestants to introduce themselves by saying something original and funny. Mosteller’s line was, “From the state where 20 percent of our homes are mobile, because that’s how we roll, I’m Brooke Mosteller, Miss South Carolina.”
Not many people outside the pageant found it funny, and others said they were offended.
Mosteller said she had doubts when she arrived at the pageant in Atlantic City. So she went up to the script writers, who had all the opening statements in advance, and asked them what they thought. They had been doing this thing for years, so surely they would have a good perspective on it, she figured. They told her the line was great and she should go with it.
“In the end, unfortunately I took their advice and went with that instead of just sticking with my values and my gut that I knew that it could be taken the wrong way,” she said.
Mosteller grew up in a Southern Baptist home and takes the Bible literally. A proverb says “In the multitude of counselors there is safety.”
Yet another quote was gnawing at her heart, the one from Shakespeare that says, “To thine own self be true.”
“That was the conflict,” she said. “Humor is never worth any relinquishing of honor.”
She says she learned a valuable lesson from the experience.
“When I really think about how it has affected people, it’s absolutely nothing to laugh about, and it really just teaches me when it comes to your values, every second counts,” she said. “This was a seven-second mistake that is nationally defining my Miss America experience, seven seconds where I compromised my values. That’s what everybody is remembering about me right now, and that’s what I will do the rest of my time as Miss South Carolina, to show people where my true values lie and how great our state really is.”
Reach Dave Munday at 937-5553 or twitter.com/dmunday.