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Miss N.J. releases blackmail photos

OCEAN CITY, N.J. (AP) — Miss New Jersey can keep her crown despite photos that show her acting “not in a ladylike manner.”

Hours after a nervous Amy Polumbo went public Thursday with photos of herself that had been sent anonymously to pageant officials, those officials decided the pictures did not merit stripping her of the title.

“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.

The beauty pageant winner apologized for the trouble the pictures had caused and thanked the pageant board for its support.

“I want to thank the public,” Polumbo said. “I also want to thank God for getting me through this.”

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. I’m not a robot. I’m a human being,” Polumbo said.

There were also photos of Polumbo drinking, but the 22-year-old college student said she was of legal age when they were taken.

Polumbo earlier said she didn’t think the pictures should lead to the loss of her crown but said other people might interpret them differently.

“What I think is OK, someone else’s eyebrows could be raised,” she said.

Polumbo’s lawyer, Anthony Caruso, said that a person or persons claiming to be The Committee to Save Miss America threatened to make the photos public unless she resigned her title.

Polumbo will represent the Garden State in the next Miss America pageant, which has yet to be scheduled.

Posted on msnbc.msn.com: Miss New Jersey released about a dozen embarrassing photographs of her partying and drinking exclusively to TODAY on Thursday. The blonde beauty queen claims the images were sent to pageant officials in an effort to force her to give up her crown.

“I feel sick to my stomach. I really do,” Amy Polumbo told host Matt Lauer. “You know, they’re not that bad, but they were meant to be private. And it is making me feel very vulnerable that the entire country has to see them now because of this situation.”

One shows a smiling Polumbo with a man she identified as her boyfriend, his open mouth over her left breast. Polumbo is fully clothed in the photo, which appeared to be snapped at a nightclub.

“This was meant to be private,” Polumbo said.

Another photo shows Polumbo, wearing blue jeans, spreading her legs high in the air. She said the photo was taken in a limousine during a birthday celebration for a friend. Two men are smiling in the background.

“We were tumbling around and someone took a photograph,” Polumbo said.

Still other images show Polumbo in various provocative poses. Polumbo is fully clothed in every image, but the photos could be viewed as contrary to the image pageant officials want to project to other young women.

Decision day
A committee reviewing two packages sent anonymously to the Miss New Jersey and Miss America pageants is scheduled to meet Thursday and decide what, if anything, to do about them.

“What would you think if you were in their shoes?” Lauer asked Polumbo.

“It’s not a very ladylike manner,” Polumbo said of the photos. “But I’m not a robot. I’m also a theater major. It was a mistake with my friends, acting silly … What I think is OK, someone else’s eyebrows could be raised.”

In several of the photos, Polumbo is depicting drinking alcohol at clubs. She insisted the photos were taken after she turned 21, the legal drinking age in New Jersey and most states.

“I rarely drink in the first place,” she said.

So why release the photos now, the day the pageant committee is scheduled to decide whether Polumbo can keep her crown?

Polumbo explained that she felt the situation was being blown out of proportion, with speculation running rampant about what the photos being used to blackmail her depicted.
“I want to end this … It’s time to reveal them,” she said.

Polumbo’s attorney, Anthony Caruso, said he has been getting good feedback from pageant officials about his client’s future as Miss New Jersey.

“We think it’s going to be a positive decision,” Caruso said. “We are very pleased with the way the pageant committee has reacted to this.”

Polumbo believe the photographs sent to the pageants were taken from a password-protected Web page she maintains on the social networking site, Facebook.

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