Erika N. Harold (born 1980) was Miss America 2003, having qualified for the pageant by being selected Miss Illinois 2002. Her official platform was “Preventing Youth Violence and Bullying: Protect Yourself, Respect Yourself.” This platform choice was said to have grown out of personal experience; she recounts having been the subject of racial and sexual harassment while growing up. However, in the first week of her reign, she also adopted a dual platform for Sexual Abstinence, causing some pageant observers to accuse her of harboring a hidden agenda. She held a press conference at the National Press Club in Washington during which she claimed the Miss America organization was bullying her.
Harold’s ethnic background is extremely varied. On her father’s side, she has Greek, German and Welsh ancestry, and on her mother’s side, Native-American, African-American and Russian descent.
Harold was born in Urbana, Illinois. She attended University High School.