Miss New York Nina Davuluri wins Miss America
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A NEW Yorker has become the first woman of Indian descent to win the prestigious Miss America pageant.
Nine Davuluri late Sunday (1pm AEST) became the second consecutive contestant from New York to win the Miss America pageant.
Davuluri won the title as the nationally televised pageant returned home to Atlantic City.
She succeeds another Miss New York, Mallory Hagan, whose tenure was cut short when the pageant moved back to Atlantic City after a six-year stint in Las Vegas, where winners were chosen in January.
Davuluri performed a classical Bollywood fusion dance for her talent competition. She is the first winner of Indian descent.
Davuluri said in an interview with the Post Standard that she'd like to win the Miss America title like every other contestant.
"Everything happens for a reason,'' she said. "If it's meant to be it's meant to be. It's a win-win just to be in it."
Earlier in the week, Davuluri said she felt she'd performed well in the lifestyle/fitness, evening gown, talent and interview sections.
Davuluri was crowned Miss New York in July. She is the first Indian-American to be named Miss New York, and plans to become a physician.
The newly crowned Miss America will visit the scene of New Jersey's devastating boardwalk fire.
The Miss America Organization told The Associated Press that the newly crowned Miss America, who won the title in Atlantic City, will head to Seaside Park and Seaside Heights tomorrow to support the reconstruction efforts.
More than four blocks of the iconic boardwalk were destroyed by a raging wind-whipped fire on Friday. The visit will come after the new Miss America does the traditional frolic in the Atlantic City surf tomorrow morning.
The injured Miss Florida, wearing a bejewelled knee brace, reached the final five of the
pageant. Miss Florida, Myrrhanda Jones, tore knee ligaments on Thursday while rehearsing her baton routine, but was able to strut into the final five.
Miss Kansas, Theresa Vail, the tattooed Army sergeant, who was chosen by a nationwide vote as "America's Choice'' to advance to the semis, made the final 10.
Other states whose contestants advanced to the semi-finals were: Maryland, Connecticut, Missouri, Oklahoma, New York, Wisconsin, Texas, California, Georgia and Minnesota.
The pageant had pitted 53 contestants - one from each state, plus the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands - in swimsuit, evening gown, talent and interview competitions.
"This is where we belong,'' Sam Haskell, CEO of the Miss America organisation, told The Associated Press. "This is the home of Miss America, and this is where we're going to stay.''
Preliminary winners in the swimsuit competition earlier in the week were Miss Mississippi, Chelsea Rick; Miss Oklahoma, Kelsey Griswold; and Miss Georgia, Carly Mathis. Preliminary winners in the talent competition were Miss New Hampshire, Samantha Russo; Miss Minnesota Rebecca Yeh; and Miss Florida, Jones.
The show will begin with the traditional parade of states, where each contestant briefly introduces herself and her state, usually in a humorous or attention-grabbing manner. Take Miss Kentucky's intro, for example:
"From the home of fast horses and beautiful women - better not get those two things mixed up - I'm Jenna Day, Miss Kentucky!'' she said.
Much attention has been given Vail, who is believed to be the first Miss America contestant to openly display tattoos. She has the Serenity Prayer on her rib cage and a military insignia on the back of a shoulder. While other contestants wore glamorous costumes and elaborately decorated footwear during Saturday night's "show-us-your-shoes'' parade on the Boardwalk, Vail wore camouflage gear and Army boots.
In a Twitter message, Vail wrote: "Win or not tonight, I have accomplished what I set out to do. I have empowered women. I have opened eyes.''
The pageant started in Atlantic City as a way to extend the summer tourism season for an extra weekend.
The move from Las Vegas cut short the reign of Hagan, who was crowned in January and expected to have a full year as the titleholder. The pageant is compensating her for the shortened term.