Tonight 23-year-old opera singer Nia Imani Franklin who competed in the competition as Miss New York won the title of Miss America 2019 becoming the 92nd winner of the title, which concluded on live TV Sunday evening in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
This year’s event, which was dubbed as Miss America 2.0, is the first in the 98-year history of the pageant that did not include a swimsuit competition, according to a People report.
The pageant’s website reads, “Starting this year, candidates will no longer be judged on outward appearance. The choice of wardrobe is now open, so everyone can express their own very individual style. Throughout the competition, candidates will have opportunities to advocate for their social initiatives. And to demonstrate how they are uniquely qualified for the exciting, challenging 365-day job of Miss America.”
The move away from judging contestants on outward appearances marked an incredible change for the Miss America competition, and the decision met mixed reactions, but it allows women to compete in an event where they don’t have to parade around in heels and swimsuits.
Franklin’s win came amidst controversy for the organization from outgoing Miss America, Cara Mund of North Dakota, who accused the institution’s leadership of bullying and silencing her during her reign. Mund’s accusations led to many of the state organizations demanding that national chairwoman Gretchen Carlson and CEO Regina Hopper resign.
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Me walking down the red carpet when I get my first Grammy nomination… DREAM BIG ⭐️ Tonight, one of my dreams came true. Walking in a gown on the Miss America stage was the most amazing feeling. I shared my passion for the arts and how I will continue my work of advocating for the arts, so that every child in our country can have access to a well-rounded education. ????????????#advocatingforthearts Gown: @jovanifashions Gown Sponsor: @cocoschateau
According to CNN, in a letter, Mund wrote, “Our chair and CEO have systematically silenced me, reduced me, marginalized me, and essentially erased me in my role as Miss America in subtle and not-so-subtle ways on a daily basis. After a while, the patterns have clearly emerged, and the sheer accumulation of the disrespect, passive-aggressive behavior, belittlement, and outright exclusion has taken a serious toll.”
Win she won, Franklin said, “It took a lot of perseverance to get here, and I just want to thank my beautiful family. My mom and my dad, who is a survivor of cancer.”
Along with the crown and the title, Franklin also received $50,000 in college scholarships as part of her winnings. During her 2019 reign as Miss America, Franklin plans to promote her social impact initiative, Advocating for the Arts.
A total of 51 women representing every state and the District of Columbia competed for the crown. The evening’s co-hosts were Dancing With the Stars judge Carrie Ann Inaba and Ross Mathews. The pageant’s judges included Laila Ali, Bobby Bones, Jessie James Decker, Randy Jackson, Soledad O’Brien, Alli Webb, and Carnie Wilson.
Miss Connecticut, Bridget Oei, came in as runner-up for the event, and she received $25,000 in college scholarships. The crowd favorite, Miss Louisiana, Holli Conway, earned second runner-up, and she won $20,000 in scholarships.