News

Miss New York first Indian-American to win ‘America’ crown

Miss New York first Indian-American to win ‘America’ crown

Miss America contestant, Miss New York Nina Davuluri (L) reacts with 2013 Miss America Mallory Hagan after being chosen winner of the 2014 Miss America Pageant in Atlantic City, New Jersey. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson Photo: Reuters

By Victoria Cavaliere

ATLANTIC CITY, New Jersey (Reuters) – Nina Davuluri won the 2014 Miss America pageant on Sunday, becoming the first Indian-American to wear the crown, which went to Miss New York for the second year in a row.

“I’m so happy this organization has celebrated diversity, and, on this stage tonight, there was so much diversity,” Davuluri told reporters shortly after defeating contestants from 49 other states, the District of Columbia, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.

“I’m so proud to be the first Indian Miss America,” the 24-year-old aspiring physician said.

EXTRA: Miss America contestants make history
 PHOTOS: Miss America’s Shoes | Miss America Pageant

The field was narrowed to Davuluri and Miss California Crystal Lee, the first runner-up. Just before the results were announced, Davuluri said, “We are making history right here as Asian-Americans.”

Contestants were judged on a personal interview, a talent demonstration, an on-stage question, and their appearance in evening gowns and swimwear during the two-hour nationally televised event.

Davuluri performed a Bollywood fusion dance and was asked about revelations that American television personality Julie Chen had plastic surgery on her eyes. Davuluri answered that she personally was opposed to plastic surgery and said that one’s diversity should be celebrated.

As the winner, Davuluri will receive a $50,000 scholarship. She said she would use the money to pay for graduate school.

Last year’s winner, Mallory Hagan from New York, crowned her successor.

Several contestants made headlines during preliminary competitions. Miss Iowa, Nicole Kelly, was born without her left forearm and said the competition helped her promote a platform of overcoming disabilities. Theresa Vail, Miss Kansas and a sergeant in the Army National Guard, became the first contestant to display tattoos.

The 93-year-old beauty pageant returned to its hometown of Atlantic City, New Jersey, this year after an eight-year stretch in Las Vegas.

Atlantic City is about 60 miles south of Seaside Park, New Jersey, the site of a massive boardwalk fire on Thursday night. In a press conference following the pageant, Davuluri volunteered to help clean up the damaged boardwalk.

The pageant’s return to the New Jersey shore could help the local economy, which was hard hit by last year’s Superstorm Sandy. The Atlantic City Alliance, an economic development group, estimated it would bring in about $30 million in business.

The Miss America pageant was televised live by ABC, which picked up the contest again in 2011 after dropping it in 2004 because of a steep ratings decline. Miss America has seen its popularity ebb and flow over its nearly 100-year history and it has been the target of critics who say the pageant format objectifies women.

The judges were former Miss America Deidre Downs Gunn, the New York Knicks’ Amar’e Stoudemire, Lance Bass from the boy band ‘N Sync, comedian Mario Cantone, violinist Joshua Bell and television chef Carla Hall.

(Editing by Daniel Trotta and Stacey Joyce)

Recent Headlines

in National

Bet you didn’t know: Fun facts about the Fourth

13-overlay

Even the most patriotic among us can learn something from these little-known facts about Independence Day.

in National

Stronger economy, cheap gas means more people on the road

gasprices

More than 40 million Americans are expected to hit the road for the long holiday weekend.

in Lifestyle, National

5 ways to save money on your summer road trip

roadtrip

While a domestic road trip might appear like an affordable alternative to traveling abroad, costs can easily spiral out of control.

in Sports

U.S. files formal extradition request for 7 FIFA officials

fifa

U.S. officials are looking into alleged bribery worth more than $100 million involving high-ranking officials at soccer's world governing body.

in National

Campaign highlights stress of fireworks on combat veterans

fireworks

For hundreds of thousands of veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder, symptoms can be worsened by the cracks and thunder of celebratory fireworks.