‘We Must Stop Rewarding Bad Behavior’: Former Miss America Blasts Media Coverage Of Elizabeth Holmes
Miss America 2003, Erika N.L. Harold of Urbana, Illinois makes her first appearance after being crowned. She is escorted by George Bauer, President and CEO of the organization. (Photo by Donna Connor/FilmMagic)
Donna Connor/FilmMagic

Former Miss America Erika Harold criticized recent media coverage of disgraced — and convicted — Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes, arguing that a New York Times article profiling her “new image” was essentially rewarding her behavior.

Harold, who parlayed her 2003 pageant victory into a Harvard Law degree, critiqued the piece in a Sunday tweet. “We must stop rewarding bad behavior w/clout + clicks. Elizabeth Holmes isn’t being punished b/c she girl bossed ‘too close to the sun.’ She intentionally misled people re a biotechnological device, impacting patients, investors + employees. She doesn’t deserve a phoenix narrative.”

She quoted a tweet sharing NYT article — titled “Liz Holmes Wants You to Forget About Elizabeth” — along with the caption, “The black turtlenecks are gone. So is the voice. As the convicted Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes awaits prison, she has adopted a new persona.”

The “new persona,” according to the article, is “devoted mother” of two young children with partner Billy Evans — and her reinvention comes just ahead of her imminent prison sentence for corporate fraud over Theranos, her blood-testing startup.

The interview, published on Sunday, was conducted at the San Diego Zoo — with Evans and the two children in tow — by the Times’ former reporter-at-large Amy Chozick.

The implication that a transformation has taken place is reinforced by the fact that Holmes, when talking about her time with Theranos, claimed to have not been herself at all but rather a character that she had created.

Responding to Chozick, who told her that actress Jennifer Lawrence had backed out of playing her in a film, Holmes said simply, “They’re not playing me. They’re playing a character I created.”

As to why she believed she “created” that character, Holmes said, “I believed it would be how I would be good at business and taken seriously and not taken as a little girl or a girl who didn’t have good technical ideas. Maybe people picked up on that not being authentic, since it wasn’t.”

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