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 News

in Entertainment

The first word of the new ‘Star Wars’ movie is …


Director J.J. reveals the first word spoken in "Star Wars: The Force Awakens," which hits theaters next month.

in Entertainment

Jennifer Lawrence named entertainer of the year


The star is one of the biggest and bankable actresses in Hollywood and has featured in a number of blockbusters including the "X-Men" franchise and "The Hunger Games" films.

in Entertainment

‘Rocky’ successor ‘Creed’ highlights Philadelphia’s revival


Adonis Johnson, the son of Balboa rival-turned-mentor Apollo Creed, leaves behind a life of privilege to walk in the footsteps of a father he never knew.

in Entertainment, Sports

FanDuel NFL entries have fallen sharply after New York shutdown


Entries at daily fantasy sports site FanDuel's NFL contests have fallen sharply since New York's attorney general declared the games to be illegal gambling in the state and the company stopped taking money from New Yorkers.

in Entertainment

After a gory death, ‘Game of Thrones’ revives Jon Snow


HBO's medieval saga "Game of Thrones" is known for serving up graphic deaths of its lead characters, but when fan favorite Jon Snow was killed off, avid followers speculated every theory and sighting that would bring back their heroic soldier.