5 things to know about Karlie Hay, the new Miss Teen USA 2016

By Julie Mazziotta
Updated August 01, 2016 01:40 PM
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Ethan Miller/Getty

Karlie Hay’s joy over winning the title of 2016 Miss Teen USA on Saturday came crashing down Sunday when her old tweets using the N-word surfaced online.

Hay has since apologized, and the Miss Universe organization says they will not take away her crown – despite protests on social media – in order to support “her continued growth.”

Here’s what you need to know about the 18-year-old winner from Tomball, Texas.

1. This is only her second year on the pageant circuit.
Hay, who says she was inspired to enter pageants by a friend, made her debut at the 2015 Miss Texas Teen competition. She then gave Miss Houston Teen a shot, earning the second runner-up spot, before going to the Miss Kemah Teen pageant in Kemah, Texas, and winning the crown. In her second attempt Hay took the title of Miss Texas Teen 2016, which earned her a chance at Miss Teen USA.

2. Hay just graduated from high school, where she was a cheerleader.
In a Snapchat takeover, the 2016 graduate of Tomball High School said that her favorite sport is cheerleading. “I was a cheerleader for six years, and the varsity cheer caption my senior year, and I also love watching football, so cheerleading and football [are my favorite sports].” She was also the yearbook editor and an honor-roll student.

3. She eventually hopes to go to Texas A&M University.
Now that the Miss Teen USA pageant is over, Hay will head to Lone Star Community College in the fall, with plans to transfer to Texas A&M University. “I’m majoring in either communications or business,” she said.

4. Her brother is in the military.
Hay is a proud military sister, and her one brother, Josh Hay, 21, is in the United States Marine Corps.

5. Hay plans to use her platform to help victims of alcoholism and drug abuse.
After seeing a close family member battle with alcoholism, Hay says she wants to be a national voice about the effects of alcoholism and drug abuse on family members. “Her own childhood experiences have engendered great empathy for children growing up in unstable environments and for the families of alcoholics,” according to her bio on the Miss Teen USA website. “Were her fondest wish to be granted, every child would grow up in a stable and loving home.”