Savannah Gankiewicz of Hawaii crowned Miss USA after previous winner resigned, citing mental health

In this image provided by the Office of Governor Josh Green, Hawaii Gov. Josh Green crowns Savannah Gankiewicz Miss USA 2023 on Wednesday, May 15, 2024, in Honolulu. Gankiewicz was crowned on Wednesday, more than a week after the previous titleholder resigned citing her mental health. (Office of Governor Josh Green, M.D. via AP)

HONOLULU (AP) — Savannah Gankiewicz of Hawaii was crowned Miss USA 2023, more than a week after the previous titleholder resigned for mental health reasons.

Born and raised on the island of Maui, Gankiewicz is a model who leads a female empowerment nonprofit organization. Gankiewicz, who was the first runner-up at the pageant last September, accepted the title on Wednesday during a special coronation attended by Hawaii Gov. Josh Green, Hawaii News Now reported. She will hold the title until August.

Miss USA 2024 is scheduled to take place from July 24 to Aug. 4.

Gankiewicz told KHON-TV she received backlash for deciding to take on the remainder of the title’s term. “But I wanted people to know that I’ve taken this title because I feel like it is a responsibility and an opportunity to make a positive change from within, and I can only do that from inside the organization and not standing out,” she said.

Gankiewicz replaces former Miss USA 2023 Noelia Voigt, a former Miss Utah who stepped aside May 6, citing her mental health. In a statement, Voigt thanked her fans and wrote, “Never compromise your physical and mental well-being.”

Miss Teen USA, UmaSofia Srivastava, also resigned her title within days of Voigt’s resignation, dealing a shock to the Miss Universe Organization, which runs both pageants.

Srivastava, the former Miss New Jersey Teen USA, wrote in a statement that her “personal values no longer fully align with the direction of the organization.”