A Louisiana couple is planning to host a Miss MAGA pageant with the mission to “preserve and promote the values of hard work, family, and patriotism that helped make America great.”
John and Jessica Carlson told Yahoo Lifestyle they were inspired to create the event by Kathy Zhu, the University of Michigan student who won the 2019 Michigan World America title only to have her crown taken away over tweets that were considered racist and Islamophobic.
“She had her crown taken, because of her conservative views, so it really just kind of inspired us to do something, or to stand up for what we believe in,” John Carlson told Yahoo. “Both of us have really been interested in philanthropical work, like donating to charities, and we figured this would be a good way for us to contribute and donate to charities and to give a voice to more conservative women across the country.”
Related Video: Controversial MAGA Apparel Moments
While the couple has not determined which charities will benefit from the pageant, they say that “part of” what is left over after expenses will be donated. However, they have “specific areas” they’d like to focus on, including “environmental, social and economical charities we want to deal with.”
“Most likely we’ll work closely with the judges in choosing which ones we want to donate to,” said John.
So far, the couple has recruited Zhu to serve as one of the judges on the event, alongside former Ms. Nevada Katie Williams, who claims that she was stripped of her title and disqualified from the upcoming Ms. America Pageant after voicing her conservative values on social media. They’ve also brought on Rob Smith, author of Confessions of a Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Soldier: How a Black, Gay Man Survived the Infantry, Coming Out, and the War in Iraq.
The Carlsons are also hoping to recruit a judge with more liberal-leaning views to balance things out, but realize that may be a bit of a challenge.
“We want to get someone on the judge panel that has the opposite views, because we do realize they are now all people who have conservative views,” said John. “But it’s hard.”
They’d also love to recruit contestants from across the political spectrum.
“We knew it was going to be mostly conservatives who support it, and we’re kind of standing up for conservatives whose voices have been silenced or stifled, but we do want to include everyone,” John added. “We’d love to have people who have liberal views enter into the pageant. No matter their race, religion, sexual orientation, we’d like them to be involved.”
While the couple understood they’d receive a heavy dose of criticism, they say the response has been a bit shocking.
“We’ve gotten a lot of hate mail and backlash,” said the Carlsons. “I think in one day we got 50 or 60 emails.”
“We wanted to start a conversation and kind of change the connotation of MAGA to, just because this person has conservative views doesn’t mean there’s this horrible racist person, like this stereotype,” said Jessica. “And to show people, like, you know me so why do you think just because now I’m saying I have conservative [views] I’m this totally different person? Because I’m not ... We want to close the gap politically and get people talking to each other.”
“MAGA stands for ‘Make America Great Again,’ and some people view it as one thing, others view it as another, and I feel like no matter whether you’re conservative, liberal, whatever you believe, if you live in this country, you should want America to be great, and that’s what we’re all about,” said John.
In a video on the event’s Facebook page, the couple asked interested parties to support their mission to bring the event to life.
The couple told Yahoo they’re hoping to raise between $75,000 and $100,000 in order to bring the event nationwide coverage. They have also created a GoFundMe page for the event, which has currently raised $50.
Read more from Yahoo Lifestyle: