Miss New Jersey USA resigns over pregnancy

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TRENTON, N.J. (AP) – Another Miss USA tiara is changing heads.

Ashley Harder, Miss New Jersey USA, has resigned because she is pregnant, The Philadelphia Daily News reported in Monday’s editions.

Harder, 20, told the newspaper she voluntarily stepped down because it’s against pageant rules to compete while pregnant. She could not be reached for comment by The Associated Press.

Both the pageant and the runner-up for 2007 Miss New Jersey USA confirmed Monday that the reins have changed hands. Erin Abrahamson, 23, said pageant officials called her Friday to let her know she would be assuming the title.

“Whatever made her resign, I wish her lots of luck and hope she’s OK,” Abrahamson said of Harder, adding that pageant officials didn’t tell her why she would be taking over.

Harder’s resignation is the latest to hit the pageant.

Miss Nevada USA Katie Rees was stripped of her title after racy photos of her appeared on the Internet. Miss USA Tara Conner, who was caught drinking in New York bars when she was still underage, was allowed to keep her tiara after she agreed to go into rehab and undergo drug testing.

Harder, who was crowned in October, told the newspaper she’s expecting her child in “late summer” and plans to marry her live-in boyfriend.

Pageant spokeswoman Lark-Marie Anton confirmed Harder’s resignation, but would only say it was “for personal reasons.”

The Miss USA pageant is to be held on March 23 in Los Angeles. The winner of that competition goes on to compete in the Miss Universe pageant. Both pageants are owned by Donald Trump and NBC.

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