Savvy Shields, a college student from Arkansas, becomes a new Miss America beating out 52 contestants in Atlantic City on Sunday night. She succeeds the outgoing Miss America, Betty Cantrell.
Shields, a native of Fayetteville and student at the University of Arkansas, impressed judges with a jazz dance routine and her answer to a question about her take on presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. Being one of seven finalists who were to answer highly topical questions on some controversial issues, such as immigration and Donald Trump within 20 seconds, Shields was asked what her take was on Clinton. Shields answered: “If you’re trying to be leader of the free world, everything you say and do matters.”
Shields went on stating that the media has sensationalized the campaign so that it was “hard to tell what is truth and scandal”. She added that “both these candidates have done a great job, but they also need to watch what they’re doing.”
The new Miss America 2017 chose “eat better, live better” as her platform for the competition. As a creative performance she presented a jazz dance to “They Just Keep Moving the Line” from the TV show “Smash.”
Rachel Wyatt, Miss South Carolina, became the first runner-up. She got a question about immigration in the United States. Next positions were taken by contestants from New York, Washington and Mississippi.
Erin O’Flaherty, Miss Missouri, who was known as the first openly lesbian contestant in the history of the nearly century-old pageant, wasn’t selected from 52 entrants from the 50 U.S. states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.
When Shields went into Sunday’s final show at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, she had already got an advantage having won in the week during preliminary judging in the talent competition.
Shields looked wonderful wearing a black strapless gown. She was crowned by the outgoing title holder Betty Cantrell. As a contest prize, Shields received a six-figure salary, expenses for the year and a $50,000 scholarship.
Contestants who ranged in age from 18 to the cut-off of 24 showed their talents, answered live questions, gave personal interviews and appeared in gowns and swimsuits in front of judges (this year, the panel of judges included singer Ciara). Most of the finalists drew on music or dance for the talent portion, but some opted for pageant staples such as baton-twirling.
The contest Miss America returned to Atlantic City a few years ago after nearly a decade in Las Vegas. It was dropped by ABC in 2004 following a steep ratings decline, but returned after years on cable.