Miss New York Nia Imani Franklin was crowned as the new Miss America at the 2019 competition.
On Sunday, Sept. 9, 2018, Franklin won the big event held at the Jim Whelan Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, New Jersey, earning herself a shiny, new tiara from 2018’s Miss America, North Dakota’s Cara Mund. “It took a lot of perseverance to get here,” Franklin told the crowd (via E! News), “and I want to thank my family, my mom and dad, who is a survivor of cancer. And all my sisters behind me, I love each and every one of you.”
Franklin had sung an opera song for the talent portion of the Miss America competition, and, during the question-and-answer bit, she encouraged young women to “find who you are,” when asked about how she’d promote body positivity if she won. “I grew up in a school with only 5% minority, but growing up, I found my love of arts and through music,” she said. “I felt positive about myself and who I was.”
Miss Connecticut Bridget Oei snagged the title of first runner up, while Miss Louisiana Holli Conway, Miss Florida Taylor Tyson, and Miss Massachusetts Gabriela Taveras followed behind.
As noted by the Miss America website, the 2019 competition was hosted by Dancing With the Stars‘ Carrie Ann Inaba and TV personality Ross Mathews and featured many celebrity judges, including former pro boxer Laila Ali, singer Jessie James Decker, musician and former American Idol judge Randy Jackson, and Wilson Phillips member Carnie Wilson.
The 2019 Miss America competition had one major change from earlier competitions — there was no swimsuit portion of the event. “We are no longer a pageant,” Miss America Board of Trustees chairwoman and 1989 winner Gretchen Carlson explained to Good Morning America in June 2018. “We are a competition. We will no longer judge our candidates on their outward physical appearance.”
At the time, Carlson also announced that the competition would not judge women on what they choose to wear when on stage. “It’s going to be what comes out of their mouth that we’re interested in when they talk about their social impact initiatives,” she said.
We’re glad to see that Miss America has adapted to changing times. Congratulations to Franklin on her big win!