There she still is: Miss New Jersey

Posted: July 12, 2007

Amy Polumbo will be allowed to continue her reign as Miss New Jersey and to represent the Garden State in the Miss America pageant, local contest officials announced this afternoon.

"I'm very happy about this decision, and I look forward to resuming my agenda as Miss New Jersey," said a smiling Polumbo, who blew kisses to audience members during the announcement in Ocean City.

Polumbo's future was put under a cloud after she went public with what she said was an attempt to blackmail her with embarrassing, personal photos.

Polumbo and Miss New Jersey officials had not been willing to disclose the content of the photos. But this morning, Polumbo ended the mystery by releasing the photos on NBC's Today show.

"I feel sick to my stomach. I really do," she said before showing photos that she had wanted to keep private, but acknowledged having posted on her Facebook site.

The pictures include one showing what Polumbo said was her boyfriend apparently biting her breast through her shirt, another of Polumbo in a limousine wearing jeans with her legs spread in the air and another of her in what appears to be a Halloween costume dress holding two small pumpkins up to her breasts.

"It's not in a ladylike manner. But I'm not a robot. I'm a human being," Polumbo said, in her second appearance on Today this week. She also noted that she is a theater major at college.

Although she conceded that the photos were embarrassing, she also described at least one as "playful."

The content of other photographs shown included Polumbo vamping, fully clothed, for the camera and her drinking an alcoholic beverage. She said that picture was taken last year and that she was of legal age to drink.

"I want to end this," Polumbo said, explaining why she was showing the photos. She also said other photos were surfacing that were being wrongly identified as being of her.

Last week, the 22-year-old Howell Township woman held a news conference and announced that someone was anonymously threatening to go public with personal photos of her if she didn't step down as Miss New Jersey by last Friday.

Before Polumbo's news conference, the photos had been received by the Miss America organization, which turned them over to Miss New Jersey officials, said local pageant board member Mark Soifer.

Perhaps to make good on the threat deadline, Miss America officials did receive a second package of photos last weekend, but Soifer said his board was told they were duplicates of the first set of photos. The sender claimed to be the Committee to Save Miss America and threatened that there would be 24 more mailings of photographs, he said.

Soifer saw the images and said they looked like college students "just playing around" at a party. Miss America officials had left the matter up to the locals to investigate and make a determination.

This afternoon, Soifer called the actions of the person who sent the photos "despicable and blackmail."

"We challenge this committee whoever and wherever they are to reveal themselves and confront the Miss New Jersey organization," he said.

Crowned on June 16, Polumbo hadn't had long to enjoy her title before all the hullabaloo - which has arguably made her more well-known than she might have been without it. Ever since it started, Polumbo made it clear that she wasn't stepping aside without a fight. Her platform in the pageant was working for Internet safety and against online predators.

Anthony Caruso, her lawyer, said he had been in touch with the state Attorney General's Office to find whether criminal activity was involved.

The attorney general's policy is to neither confirm nor deny investigations, said spokesman Lee Moore.

At least two of the board's five directors said this week that they did not consider the photos to be a big problem.

Polumbo has been singing and acting since she was 3 years old. At Howell High School, she was a cheerleading captain and prom queen.

Last year, she landed a role as Ariel from The Little Mermaid at a Disney theme park in Orlando.

Polumbo, who hopes to act on Broadway, won the two pageants she had ever entered: the Miss Seashore Line pageant last year and Miss New Jersey last month.


Contact Rita Giordano at 856-779-3841 or rgiordano@phillynews.com.

This report contains material from the Associated Press.

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