Sunday’s event marked a change for Miss America which dropped the swimsuit portion of its competition in June.
Instead the competition, no longer referred to as a pageant, focused more on empowering women and featured its contestants supporting causes such as Miss New Jersey Jaime Gialloreto’s Don’t Get Nutty: Food Allergy Awareness program.
Miss Michigan Emily Sioma brought attention to the Flint water crisis happening in her state while introducing herself. “From the state with 84% of the United States’ fresh water, but none for its residents to drink,” she said.
Sioma, who received praise on social media for her statements, also brought attention to violence against women.
Nia Franklin, an opera singer representing New York, was crowned Miss America 2019 during the competition.
Franklin advocated for equal opportunity and education in interview questions and said she would promote the arts during her time as Miss America.
“I grew up at a predominately Caucasian school and there was only five percent minority, and I felt out of place so much because of the color of my skin,” Franklin said during the competition. “But growing up, I found my love of arts, and through music that helped me to feel positive about myself and about who I was.”
Bridget Oei, Miss Connecticut, was named first runner-up at the event which took place in Atlantic City, N.J. Dancing with the Stars judge Carrie Ann Inaba hosted the ceremony with Laila Ali, Bobby Bones, Randy Jackson, Jessie James Decker, Soledad O’Brien, Alli Webb and Carnie Wilson serving as judges.