ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. – Miss New York Nia Franklin, was crowned Miss America 2019 Sunday night in the first Miss America pageant held without a swimsuit event since the competition began as bathing beauty contest in 1921 and Franklin said afterward she was glad she didn’t have to walk the stage in a bikini.
“I’m happy that that I didn’t have to do so to win this title because I’m more than just that. All these women onstage are more than just that,” she said in a post-competition news conference.
The competition – it’s no longer called a “pageant,” Miss America officials are quick to point out – was held at Atlantic City’s Jim Whelan Boardwalk Hall and televised on ABC.
Sunday night’s crowning followed weeks of controversy after Franklin’s predecesso, Cara Mund, accused organization leaders of bullying her and limiting her participation in organization activities and decision-making. MAO chairwoman Gretchen Carlson and CEO Regina Hopper disputed Mund’s claims and according to news reports Monday an internal review found no evidence of bullying, though it did lend credence to some of Mund’s complaints.
The new Miss America, an opera singer, is a graduate of the University of North Carolina School of Arts, where she majored in music composition. She performed Quando m’en vo’ from the opera La Boheme in the talent portion of the Miss America competition.
Her win earned Franklin a $50,000 scholarship to continue her education.
As Miss America 2019, Franklin will travel across the country for her year of service. She will embark on a national speaking tour promoting her social impact initiative “Advocating for the Arts” and will also serve as the National Goodwill Ambassador for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals is the national platform partner of the Miss America Organization.
First runner up in the competition was Miss Connecticut, Bridget Oei, who earned a $25,000 scholarship.
Other top scholarship winners were:
– $5,000 STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) scholarship: Miss Massachusetts, Gabriela Taveras; Miss Montana, Laura Haller and Miss Nevada, Alexis Hilts.
– $5,000 Women in Business scholarship: Miss Hawaii, Penelope Ng Pack and Miss South Dakota, Carrie Wintle.
A total of 51 candidates representing all 50 states and the District of Columbia competed in preliminary competitions earlier in the week.
The Sunday night telecast was hosted by Carrie Ann Inaba of ABC’s Dancing with the Stars and TV personality Ross Matthews.
This story includes information from a Miss America Organization news release and media reports.