Vanessa Williams returned to the Miss America pageant on Sunday (September 14th) as a guest judge, over 30 years after she resigned her crown following the publication of nude photographs in Penthouse magazine. At the ceremony, Williams received an official apology from pageant chairman Sam Haskell for the way she was treated by the organisation back in 1984.

Vanessa WilliamsVanessa Williams returned to the Miss America pageant on Sunday (September 14th).

“I have been a close friend to this beautiful and talented lady for 32 years,” Haskell said after Williams had finished her performance of ‘How the Years Go By”. “You have lived your life in grace and dignity and never was it more evident than during the events of 1984 when you resigned.”

"Though none of us currently in the organization were involved then, on behalf of today’s organization, I want to apologize to you and to your mother, Miss Helen Williams. I want to apologize for anything that was said or done that made you feel any less than the Miss America you are and the Miss America you always will be.”

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Williams described the apology as “so unexpected but so beautiful.” In the days leading up to her appearance at the pageant Williams had shared a photo of her 1983 crown on social media, which she was allowed to keep even after resigning as Miss America.

The now 52 year old was the first ever African-American to win the Miss America pageant when she took the crown back in 1983. But 10 months after her victory Williams was forced to resign after Penthouse magazine published nude photographs of her, taken before her pageant days.

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But despite the scandal Williams went on to become the most high profile Miss America winner of all time, with a successful acting career in both television and film.

This year’s Miss America pageant was won by Miss Georgia, Betty Cantrell. The 21 year old managed to scoop the crown despite creating controversy on social media when she said she believed Tom Brady should have been suspended following the 'deflategate' scandal.