Nina Davuluri once called herself Miss Diversity, but now she can change that to Miss America.
The contestant from New York broke barriers on Sunday night when she became the first woman of Indian descent to win the competition. For someone who prides herself on diversity and representing her culture, the win was especially sweet.
Davuluri gave a nod to her heritage in the talent competition, performing a classic Bollywood fusion dance.
It was a moment that almost didn’t happen, however. After host Lara Spencer called her name, Davuluri seemed to think it was another contestant’s turn and started to clap instead. “Miss New York, you are up,” Spencer called a second time, “Miss New York, you are up!”
With the win, Nina Davuluri became the second straight Miss New York to go on to become Miss America, succeeding Mallory Hagan.
Before the Miss America win, Nina Davuluri was actually known for a bit of controversy regarding the former Miss America. Shortly after winning the Miss New York contest in July, Nina was reportedly caught on tape calling Hagan “fat as f**k.”
Nina reportedly invited some friends to her Staten Island hotel room after winning the pageant, and that’s where the nastiness started.
“A girl in the next room overheard their conversation, and was so offended she decided to tape part of it,” a source told the New York Post. “A friend of Davuluri was supposedly heard making racist remarks, and Davuluri is allegedly heard on the tape blasting Miss America, saying, ‘Mallory’s fat as [bleep].’ ”
Nina Davuluri claims she did not make the statements, though she did appear to admit that someone in her room said it. In a Facebook apology to Mallory, Davuluri wrote:
“I want to apologize for the awful statements made by people in my room. There were people who claimed to be my supporters and said things I never agreed with, nor supported…I was never a part of the words or statements that may have been hurtful…I’m sorry if someone said something that was inappropriate.”
Pageant officials apparently agreed on Nina’s innocence. After reviewing the tape, they determined that Nina did nothing wrong.
Nina has admitted to having body issues herself, telling the Post-Standard that she struggled with bulimia and hates the word “skinny.”
Nina Davuluri will start her official Miss America duties on Monday, when she pays a visit to the scene of a devastating boardwalk fire in the town of Seaside Heights.