53 extremely beautiful and talented girls vied for the title of Miss America in Atlantic City, New Jersey on Sept. 14 and one of them won the title.
Miss New York Kira Kazantsev became the new Miss America Sunday night, marking the third year in a row that a contestant from her state has walked away with the crown in the nationally televised pageant.
The woman surprised the jury as she sang Pharrell Williams’ “Happy” when sitting cross-legged on the stage and banging a red plastic cup on the floor.
Kazantsev received the crown at Atlantic City’s Boardwalk Hall from outgoing Miss America — and Miss New York — Nina Davuluri.
Kira Kazantsev, who originally comes from California and moved to New York for college, speaks three languages and is an advocate for domestic violence survivors.
A survivor of abuse herself, the beauty stepped out in support of Janay Rice, the wife of football player Ray Rice. “I want people to stop asking ‘Why doesn’t she just leave?'” she told reporters. “Every woman is an expert in her own case, and there are so many extenuating circumstances that lead to a woman staying with her abuser.”
The list of other top 5 finalists were Miss Arkansas Ashton Jo Campbell; Miss Florida Victoria Cowen; and Miss Massachusetts Lauren Kuhn. Miss North Dakota, Jacky Arness was chosen by her peers as Miss Congeniality.
“The pageant shone a positive light on the struggling seaside gambling resort, which has been in the national news for all the wrong reasons lately: a rash of casino closings, thousands of unemployed workers, and a domestic violence case involving a former NFL star,” the Huffington Post writes.
For three hours as the pageant was televised throughout the country, America had a different look at Atlantic City. The Miss America pageant presented an upbeat view of the city where it began in 1921.
It featured iconic Atlantic City visuals including its beach, Boardwalk, the Steel Pier, Black Fish Pier near Brigantine, and the Atlantic City Beach Patrol station.
“Atlantic City is facing a challenging economic climate and our hearts go out to all of those who have lost their jobs,” said Sam Haskell III, CEO of the Miss America organization. “We hope that our Miss America telecast … will generate great interest for Atlantic City on a national scale as we showcase their beautiful beaches and Boardwalk.”
“There has been no shortage of compelling story lines leading up to the selection of the next Miss America, including the way personal tragedy has shaped the public service platforms of several contestants. The brother of Miss Wisconsin Raeanna Johnson killed himself after a secret addiction to methamphetamine. Her platform was the impact of substance abuse on the family,” the Huffington Post reports.
“The father of Miss Kansas Amanda Sasek killed himself when she was 17. Her platform was helping people find their strengths. And Miss Delaware Brittany Lewis is still waiting for an arrest to be made in the 2010 slaying of her sister. Her platform is combating domestic violence.”
“There was drama and even some low-brow comedy leading up to the finale. Miss Rhode Island, Ivy DePew, collapsed onstage during the first night of preliminary competition, but made it back the next night after two trips to the hospital for dehydration”, the publication adds.