About mid September, 53 women gathered in Atlantic City, New Jersey to compete for the title of Miss America 2014. Atlantic City is the birthplace of Miss America and for the past nine years the pageant has been held in Las Vegas, Nevada. Not this year. Miss America is BACK in her home and in my opinion, it was a great move.
The pageant was also moved up to September again, which was the original date until it was moved to January when locations were changed to Vegas. I'm so happy Miss America has come back to tradition, feels good to be home.
Again this year the pageant was held live on ABC. I was on the mainland visiting family at the time, so my mother and I had a little watch party at my house with my sister and friend. It was so much fun, I had a blast watching the pageant with them, it had been way too long.
My good friend Amy was crowned Miss Arkansas (you can read all about it here) back in July, so I was extra excited this year. I couldn't wait to watch her on the big stage and proud is definitely an understatement of how I felt for her.
As tradition with Miss America being held in Atlantic City is the favored "Show Us Your Shoes" Parade. This year, it was better and bigger than ever with 4,000 participants, including the 53 beautiful women vying for the title.
Miss America 2013
This year marked the 50th anniversary of Arkansas' one and only Miss America, Donna Axum-Whitworth.
Each contestant is to wear something that resembles their state, whether it be the state motto, a famous sports team, or simply something the state is known for. Here are some of my favorites during the parade.
Miss District of Columbia
Miss New Hampshire
Miss New Jersey
Miss New Mexico
Miss New York
Miss South Dakota
I would literally
On to the pageant...
I didn't get to watch the preliminary competition like I did for Miss USA, so I was going in kind of blindsided on who would make Top 15. There were two prelim winners each night, so it gave me an idea of who was strong in which category, but finals night had a different panel of judges from prelim nights so anything goes basically after the Top 15 was called.
Lifestyle and Fitness (Swimsuit)
Lifestyle and Fitness (Swimsuit)
Miss Kansas was no surprise to me being the people's choice award. She stirred up a lot of publicity for being the first contestant in Miss America history to expose her tattoos on the national stage. She is also a sergeant in the Army National Guard for Kansas. Her platform is Empowering Women to break Stereotypes.
Mississippi was a Lifestyle and Fitness (swimsuit) prelim winner earlier in the week and seemed to be consistent from everything I read throughout the week. Her SF placement was no surprise to me.
New York was another no surprise for me. She seemed consistent throughout the week as well from what I read but I don't really know that much more about her.
No surprise here. Georgia was another Lifestyle and Fitness (swimsuit) prelim winner. The white looks good on her, and that face is just gorgeous!
The third and final Lifestyle and Fitness prelim winner of the contestants. She's a heavy favorite and had been consistent through all prelims. No surprise she made the cut.
Another heavy favorite and consistent contestant during the week of prelims. I had no doubt she would make the semis. Smart girl this one!
Connecticut was one of my personal favorites going into the pageant. I didn't know much about her, but I love her look and was hoping she got the call.
Didn't know that much about Texas going into the pageant, but did know that is a looker. I was pleased when she got the call.
There's my girl! So, so, so happy Arkansas got the call. I heard she was consistent all week so I was extra excited to see her make the semis.
I've heard a lot of hype about Missouri, but I must admit, I was a little surprised to see her make the cut.
Another surprise for me. Was not expecting Kentucky in the mix whatsoever. She gives off a teen vibe to me, but obviously the judges saw different.
Was very happy when Maryland got the call. Didn't know that much about her but she is very beautiful and the obvious Lifestyle and Fitness winner of the night in my opinion. Look at that body!
Bless Florida's heart. This girl is so strong. Had been consistent all week during prelims, was practicing her talent the day of her talent prelim and decides to tear her ACL and meniscus. Spent hours in the hospital and went on to compete later that night only to win the Talent prelim award for her group. Kept her dream alive but bedazzeling her knee brace and strutting her stuff in flats on the national stage. Props to Florida, super happy she got the call!
Side note, could not find a darn picture of Wisconsin while modeling her swimsuit, this was the closest I could get to finding one. Anyway, I didn't know much about her so I was neither pleased nor displeased that she made semis.
Minnesota was a heavy favorite going in and another Talent preliminary winner during the week. I was not surprised one bit that she made the cut.
Like I said, in my opinion, Maryland won the first phase of competition for finals night. There was a new set of judges for finals so this was the first time they were seeing the girls onstage. Surprises for me that didn't make the cut were AL, NJ, LA and SD. I thought these ladies had a good shot at getting the call. But it was obvious, the South had a lead on the competition so far. :)
Presence and Poise (Evening Gown)
So happy Maryland got the call to advance. I really liked her in swimsuit and think she is one of the beauties on the stage. The white gown was very pretty, elegant, and looked really good on the TV screen.
There is just something about Connecticut that I absolutely love. I was thrilled when she got the call to advance. This gown was actually purple on the TV screen ad fit her pretty well. It had a sheer bottom that went pretty high up her thighs.. sexxyyy. Looks great with her red hair. I loved it.
I was VERY surprised to see her make it past swimsuit phase. She seemed a little off because her and Florida were switched in the lineup and the wrong titles were called out on stage. I think it may have hurt her. With that said, this long-sleeved red gown I have seen several times and in different colors. Was wanting something different, but then again I didn't think she belonged in the Top 12 anyway. But that's just me!
Really happy Florida got the call.. Again, her and Missouri were switched in the line up so it seemed a little off. I'm sure it was hard to model without heels. Not very happy with her dress choice. This is Miss America, I need something a little more!
Again, no surprise with Oklahoma. She was fierce in swimsuit and I knew she'd go far. I love the style of the gown and how it flatters her figure, but I was not crazy about the design. I would've preferred a solid color.
Helloooo New York! Hands down, favorite gown of the pageant. So beautiful. The color, with her skin and hair, I can't even. Flatters her figure and looks amazing. Jersey material is a dream if you can pull it off and this girl can. Open back and that gold jewelry. Perfection! This was her state gown and I'm so glad she decided to stick with it. If it ain't broke, don't fix it people! New York soared to the top part of my list after she walked out in this beauty.
I figured Wisconsin would make the cut after her performance in swimsuit. This gown looked really good on TV, it's a beautiful royal purple color with an exceptionally long train. I believe it was also her state gown. Again, if it ain't broke, don't fix it! Gorgeous.
No surprise again, I mean after all, she is Texas. The gown was not my absolute fave, but it looked great on her and complimented her skin tone, she modeled it really elegantly. She sure is a classic beauty in my opinion. Glad she made the cut.
Where do I even begin with California. I'm so happy that she made the cut and knew she'd go far. This is another contestant that stayed with her state gown, and for good reason. It's a winner. Beautiful color, had a slit on one side, and a completely open back. So, so, so sexy and pretty.
No surprise once again with Kansas. She is a heavy favorite with the crowd, absolutely rocked her swimsuit, and I was really happy to see that she was not penalized for exposing her tattoos. With that said, this gown was the same gown Miss Teen USA was crowned in this year, and that's where I thought it should stay, on a teen. Love her ponytail and love the gown, but too teen for Miss America.
Another no surprise here. Georgia knows how to strut her stuff on stage and that face is blonde bombshell gorgeous. And yet, another peplum gown. Honestly, I'm not crazy about peplum gowns, it's hard to get one that flatters every figure and that doesn't look to teen. Plus, it looks like it's hard to walk in regarding your arm motions. With that being said, I'm just not crazy about this number, I think she could've picked something a little more elegant but sexy.
I was loving this girl the whole night, but I wasn't a fan of this evening gown. It is really beautiful, no doubt, it just seemed a little matronly to me. What happened to the sexy evening gowns ladies were wearing for a few years. Come on, turn up the heat! I know it's a pageant, but you can still wear elegant but sexy gowns!
And there's the Top 12 in Evening Gown. I was super bummed my girl Amy didn't make the cut, but nevertheless proud of her for placing at MISS AMERICA! I am so excited for everything she has to accomplish as a wonderful Miss Arkansas this year. On a side note, I am glad that Kentucky and Mississippi were also left behind. But if it was my choice, I would have replaced Missouri with Arkansas :)
A few things about the pageant I absolutely cannot stand. 1) Having the other contestants on stage during the entire competition. They've endured enough, do they really have to be tortured and sit on stage in front of everyone to watch someone else capture their dream? 2) Why are the phases so quick? We barely get to see the girls on stage in their wardrobe. The longest we get to see them is during talent, and that's only because it has to be 90 seconds. Get over the fillers and tons of commercials and give the ladies more time!! This is their dream job! 3) Stoppppp making the Top 12 all change into their talent outfits and then trim them down to a Top 10. Really??? You're going to make them waste time and put on their entire costume just to be let down and not able to perform?! Grr on you Miss America..
On the bright side, one thing I did like was how they awarded $1,000 scholarship to the top 5 scoring contestants in talent who did not make the finals. Those ladies were..
- New Hampshire - Prelim Talent Winner
Artistic Expression (Talent)
*Disclaimer: All photos were taken from the Miss America Facebook page. I do not own any of them*
Loved her costume. Very un-pageanty. If you read my Miss USA recap you probably remember seeing Miss PA USA in the same gown. I love it. Total untraditional. Oklahoma making Top 10 is no surprise, I told you, this girl was on fire. Her talent... Definitely wasn't bad, but I wish she would've picked a different song. She sang "Everybody Says Don't" from the Musical Everyone Can Whistle. Her vocals were good and on key so it was enough to score pretty well. It was a great way to start the talent show.
I was excited to see New York's talent. I have never really seen Bollywood dance, especially Bollywood Fusion. I have nooooo idea how to judge it, but I could judge it on entertainment value, which it had. She looked like she had a blast performing it and you could see the passion in her face. It was beautiful, just like her costume. I'm so so so happy she got to perform it. You go New York!
I honestly like this gown better than the one she wore for Evening Gown, but it fit well with her talent. Her original talent was going to be archery but due to a clause against projectile objects she sang Opera by default. Apparently she learned her song from YouTube.. which seems a little slap in the face to classically trained Opera singers, but hey more power to ya! She sounded good until the end when it became a little screamish. I didn't see her advancing past talent.
So excited California got the call. I had heard and seen pictures that she was dancing The Swan en Pointe and couldn't be more eager to see it. I am huge fan of ballet, and even though California is known for sending ballet dancers, I just can't get enough. She was so beautiful and graceful. I am so envious of everything she did on that stage during that routine. Simply stunning.
No... A red-headed Miss Connecticut dancing Irish Step?!?! GET OUT. I was stoked when she was called and could not wait to see her perform. I absolutely lovedddd it. All the dancers blew away the singers in my opinion this year and this routine was no different. I really love Irish/Celtic music, but that just might be the genes in me. :) No wonder she has the abs she does with all of her high kicks and the way she stomped those shoes.. I can't even. She was super entertaining and even though I don't really know anything about Irish Step Dancing, I could tell she was very talented. Love, love her!
One thing I loved about Georgia's talent... her smokin' hot gown! This is what I would've loved to see her in for Evening Gown. She sang "On My Own" from the musical Les Miserables and let me tell you, the rendition she did was not my favorite. I feel like she could've done much better if she would've chosen a different song. She changed the style to country.. which it is not. Wasn't a fan.. at all. Beautiful girl, wrong song.
Another so so vocal. This girl is beautiful! She sang "Fever" and made her own rendition of it. I feel like maybe she was just nervous. She's another one I think would've done much better if she chose a different song. Love the gown and she performed well.. just didn't sing well. I didn't see her advancing.
Minnesota was a Prelim Talent winner so I was excited to see her talent. Love instrument playing and she did amazing. I don't know how to judge it technically, at all, but it seemed like a difficult piece, sounded all on key, her gown was amazing, and you could see the passion on her face. It was beautiful.
My goodness Maryland is beautiful. Her singing was pretty, but it wasn't strong enough. She sang "For Good" from the musical Wicked, and let me tell you, no one can sing it like my teen queen Haley :P This song is so overdone. She was on key and had a pretty tone, but like I said, not strong enough. Maryland and Oklahoma were the stronger singers in regards to tone and confidence. But I didn't see Maryland advancing.
I think Florida became everyone's sentimental favorite after seeing her persevere to capture her dream job with a torn ACL and Meniscus. She just kept truckin' along with that bedazzeled brace and to see her called to advance into the Top 10 was so heart warming. She twirled to "Big Noise" and she was another Talent Prelim winner. I was so excited to see her routine, knee brace and all and guess what... she NAILED it. Clean, no drops, amazing.
Talent was great! It was actually much better in my opinion than several years past. I really wish Amy could've performed hers on national TV but oh well..
On Stage Question
*Disclaimer: All photos were taken from the Miss America Facebook Page. I do not own any of these photos.*
Now, before I start this phase... Before the questions were asked, the hosts swore up and down that these questions were all fair in regards to difficulty.. Let me know if you agree.
Question: Miley Cyrus has caused a media sensation with her 'twerky' performance on the VMAs, appearing nude in her new music video, etc. What do you think? Miley just expressing herself artistically or Miley... please, what are ya thinkin'?!
Answer: I'm going to be honest, I don't think her performance was 'twerking' for me, so, ya know.. Did ya get it? No I honestly think her performance was no super tasteful but ya know, at the same time she's a performer, I'm a performer, so I have to respect her creativity.
Question: Some political candidates wives' have continued to support their husbands through scandals involving very public sexting and cheating. Are these wives' carrying "Stand by your Man" too far?
Answer: No, I don't think so. When you make a commitment to someone it's for life and I think that they're doing the right thing by standing by their husband and the man they fell in love with. So I think they are doing the right thing, that husband needs to get it together though.
Question: The US has threatened to attack Syria for using chemical weapons on its own people. It's a terrible crime, but is it our responsibility to punish them for it?
Answer: I believe as one of the most powerful countries in the world we do have an ethical obligation to prevent, ya know a leader of a country who is using chemical weapons on his people. I believe we should use, um congressional support when we can and refer to the UN because this is something we all need to handle together.
Question: TV Host, Julie Chen revealed that when she was starting out, for career reasons, she had plastic surgery to make her eyes appear less Asian. What message does this send to young women?
Answer: Unfortunately, um I don't agree with plastic surgery, however I can understand that from a standpoint, but more importantly, I've always viewed Miss America as the Girl Next Door and the Girl Next Door is evolving as a diverse America evolves. She is not who she was 10 years ago and she's not going to be the same person come 10 years down the road, so I wouldn't want to change someone's looks or appearance, but definitely be confident in who you are.
Question: It's the 50th anniversary of Dr. King's "I Have a Dream" speech and we have an African American president, yet minorities still have disproportionally incomes and disproportionally high unemployment and incarceration rates. What should our nation do to address this issue?
Answer: I actually came from a home, my father is unemployed and it took a lot for me to be able to stand on this stage, so I truly represent that middle class, blue collar family that's working hard to make their kids' be able to have all the opportunities in the world. So that comes from, we need to have more jobs in America..... AND SHE WAS CUT OFF. Apparently her time was up...
And then the audience boo'd the host for cutting her off. Anyway, here are my thoughts.. 1) The questions were NO WHERE NEAR fair in regards to difficulty. Miley Cyrus at the VMAs to Syria.. Really?! 2) Only three contestants really answered their questions, and two should be credited for it. 3) WTF, Florida didn't have near as long as the others to answer.. come on.
It was time for Miss America 2013, Mallory Hagan's Farewell Walk
Who was an amazing Miss America by the way.. she did a lot for the organization in modernizing the image and gaining new sponsors and working hard with current sponsors. She is an amazing role model.. although I didn't agree with her eating/fitness lifestyle during her reign, but that's another story.
This year was such a beautiful Top 5..
CA, FL, NY, OK, MN
And the final results are as followed..
4th Runner Up ($10,000 Scholarship Award) - Minnesota, Rebecca Yeh
3rd Runner Up ($15,000 Scholarship Award) - Florida, Myrrhanda Jones
2nd Runner Up ($20,000 Scholarship Award) - Oklahoma, Kelsey Griswold
1st Runner Up ($25, 000 Scholarship Award) - California, Crystal Lee
Miss America 2014
New York, Nina Davuluri
Back to back New York!
I just love the reaction!!
Nina makes history becoming the first Indian-American Miss America!! You go girl!
Taking her first walk down the amazing runway.
Beautiful Miss America 2014, her court, and her directors. Congrats Nina!!
So there is my rundown. What did you think? If you missed the pageant, you can watch it on YouTube here.
Did you watch Miss America? What are your thoughts?