For the second year in a row, despite Atlantic City being in the news with laying off casino workers, the Miss America pageant was presented live Sunday night at its traditional home, the Boardwalk Hall, in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Now into its 94th year, and according to co-host Chris Harrison, it’s the longest running reality TV competition program, saw 53 contestants that included Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico, and U.S. Virgin Islands.
In the end it was a three-peat win for another Miss New York, Kira Kazantsev. She’s a graduate of Hofstra University and the daughter of Russian immigrants. Her talent was certainly impressive and remarkable, whether some on social media agreed or not. It’s gotten many people talking. Here’s a rundown of the night’s events starting off with an array of judges, including a former Miss America who asked Miss New York a rather tough question.
Kathy Ireland – Former supermodel and head judge
Donald Driver – NFL star of the Green Bay Packers and “Dancing with the Stars” champion
Shawn Johnson – Olympic gold medal gymnast and “Dancing with the Stars” champion
Marc Cherry – “Desperate Housewives” TV series creator/writer
Anne Macdonald – Army Brigadier General and one of the first women to graduate from West Point in 1980.
Gary Vaynerchuk – Entrepreneur, video blogger, wine expert
Lee Meriwether – Crowned Miss America 60 years ago. She appeared in the pageant’s first telecast in September 1954.
Now the moment most contestants and viewers have been waiting for. Who will be in the running for Miss America 2015?
Top 16 – Lifestyle and Fitness (swimsuit competition):
Miss Idaho – Picked by America’s Choice (via online prior to the pageant) and proudly wore her Type 1 diabetic insulin pump during the swimsuit parade.
Miss Kentucky – One of the talent competition winners during the preliminaries (prior to the live telecast). She played the fiddle.
Miss Oklahoma – She’s one of the lifestyle and fitness (swimsuit) winners in the preliminaries.
Miss Ohio – Another winner in the talent preliminaries with her ventriloquist act.
Miss Florida – Winner of the lifestyle and fitness preliminaries.
Miss North Dakota – She was the last chosen from the judge’s wild card.
Miss Mississippi – A former “American Idol” Top 13 finalist during Season 8 (2009).
Miss Connecticut – Feels the best years of her life are just ahead.
Miss Tennessee – Wants to soak up this experience of being a Miss America contestant.
Miss Alabama – Her father is a NFL player.
Miss New York – Will she become the third Miss New York to win in a row?
Miss Massachusetts – In two years she’ll become a dentist.
Miss Virginia – Her brother has cerebral palsy and wants to make a difference for people with disabilities.
Miss Arkansas – Comes from a very small town of only 75 people.
Miss Iowa – She’s obsessed with the TV show “Games of Thrones.”
Miss Texas – Her platform is on health care.
Only 12 contestants would be moving on to the next round. After a remarkably quick change during commercial breaks these ladies manage to put on their finest gowns. The Top 12 would move on to the talent portion with only 10 contestants performing. This is what sets the Miss America beauty pageant from all the rest (Miss USA and Miss Universe). It’s often the highlight of the evening with some incredible performances and unusual choices. That was certainly the case with this year’s. Miss Ohio had a dummy as part of her ventriloquist act singing “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” from the musical film “Mary Poppins.”
Taking her inspiration from the film “Pitch Perfect,” where Anna Kendrick uses a plastic cup to stay in rhythm, Miss New York utilized a red plastic cup in a similar routine to the current hit song “Happy” by Pharrell Williams. Just like in “Pitch Perfect,” Miss New York sat on the stage with a genuine smile singing in a lyrical voice. At one point she had the audience inside Boardwalk Hall clapping along. It may not have been the most extraordinary talent, but it was memorable, creative, and exceptional.
Now it comes down to the Top 5 in determining the finalists and the intense question round. All five contestants gave remarkable answers. Miss New York picked Lee Meriwether, the 1955 Miss America, regarding a record-breaking amount of women now serving in the Senate, what main issue should they take the lead on? Her passionate response was, “I really believe that sexual assault in our military is an issue these women have got to fight for …”
Miss Massachusetts – 4th runner-up
Miss Florida – 3rd runner-up
Miss Arkansas – 2nd runner-up
Miss Virginia – runner-up
Miss New York – Miss America 2015.
Kira Kazantsev became the third consecutive winner from New York, and its sixth winning state titleholder. Other past winners from New York include: Bess Myerson (1945), Tawny Godin (1976), Vanessa Williams (1984), Mallory Hytes Hagan (2013), and Nina Davuluri (2014). It’s also the first time in Miss America’s 90+ year history for a three-peat. The only other state to have consecutive winners is Oklahoma in 2006 and 2007.