There she still is: Miss N.J.

The new Garden State queen will keep her crown, despite un-"ladylike" blackmail photographs.

Posted: July 13, 2007

The crown stays put.

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 yesterday.

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.

Yesterday, the board's decision to let her continue drew cheers - and some tears - from Polumbo's friends and relatives at a news conference in Ocean City.

"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.

Polumbo and Miss New Jersey officials had refused to disclose the content of the photos. But yesterday morning, Polumbo ended the mystery by releasing them on NBC's Today.

"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. Mark Soifer, a member of the local pageant board, said her forthrightness in releasing the photos was a factor in the decision to let her keep her crown.

The pictures include one showing what Polumbo said was her boyfriend apparently biting her breast through her shirt, one of Polumbo in a limousine wearing jeans with her legs spread in the air, and one 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.

While 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 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.

Both the Miss America organization and Miss New Jersey officials reviewed the photos. 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 there would be 24 more mailings of photographs.

Miss America officials have left the matter up to the locals to investigate and make a determination.

Soifer saw the images and said they looked like college students "just playing around" at a party. Yesterday, he said the board's decision was based on Polumbo's forthrightness and the content of the photos.

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 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 out whether criminal activity was involved. The attorney general's policy is to neither confirm nor deny investigations, said spokesman Lee Moore.

Polumbo has been singing and acting since she was 3. 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 only two pageants she had ever entered: the Miss Seashore Line pageant last year and Miss New Jersey last month.

At the news conference yesterday, Polumbo was dressed in pastel yellow and flowered high heels. Her parents, other family members, and friends were on hand to offer support.

She apologized for the trouble the pictures had caused but said she had no regrets.

She also said she has learned an important lesson.

"Nothing today in this world is private anymore, and you have to be careful because there are people who will ruin your reputation," she said.

Among those in the audience yesterday who might agree that times have changed was 63-year-old Sylvia Barthold, the state field director of the Miss New Jersey pageant.

"I'm glad in my young days there was no Internet because, I'll tell you, I was a fun girl," she said.

To see photographs used in the blackmail attempt, visit

Contact staff writer Rita Giordano at 856-779-3841 or

This article contains information from the Associated Press.

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