|Headquarters||Atlantic City, New Jersey, United States|
|Key people||Sam Haskell (CEO)|
The Miss America Pageant is a competition which awards scholarships for college and graduate school to American women between the ages of 17 to 24. Miss America travels about 20,000 miles a month, changing her location every 24 to 48 hours. She tours the nation promoting her particular platform of interest.
The current title-holder, Miss America 2015, is Kira Kazantsev of New York. She was crowned on September 14, 2014, at the 88th pageant by her predecessor, Nina Davuluri, Miss America 2014, making her the third consecutive Miss America winner from New York.
The origins of the Miss America Pageant lie in a 1920 event entitled The Fall Frolic. Held on September 25 in Atlantic City, New Jersey, the event was designed to bring business to the Boardwalk: "three hundred and fifty gaily decorated rolling wicker chairs were pushed along the parade route. Three hundred and fifty men pushed the chairs. However, the main attractions were the young 'maidens' who sat in the rolling chairs, headed by a Miss Ernestine Cremona, who was dressed in a flowing white robe and represented "Peace." 
The event was so successful that The Businessmen's League planned to repeat it the following year as a beauty pageant or a "bather's revue"  (to capitalize on the popularlity of newspaper-based beauty contests that used photo submissions). Thus, "newspapers as far west as Pittsburgh and as far south as Washington, D.C., were asked to sponsor local beauty contests. The winners would participate in the Atlantic City contest. If the local newspaper would pay for the winner's wardrobe, the Atlantic City Businessmen's League would pay for the contestant's travel to compete in the Inter-City Beauty Contest." Herb Test, a "newspaperman" coined the term for the winner as, "Miss America." On September 8, 1921, 100,000 people gathered at the Boardwalk to watch the contestants from Washington, D.C., Pittsburgh, Harrisburg, Ocean City, Camden, Newark, New York, and Philadelphia. The 16 year-old winner from Washington D.C., Margaret Gorman was crowned the "Golden Mermaid" and won $100.
The pageant continued consistently over the next eight decades except for the years 1929-1933, when it was temporarily shut down due to financial problems and suggestions that it promoted "loose morals." With its revival in 1933, 15 year-old Marian Bergeron won, prompting future contestants to be between the ages of 18 to 26. In 1935, Lenora Slaughter was hired to "re-invent" the pageant and served for 32 years as its Director. By 1938, a talent section was added to the competition, and contestants were required to have a chaperone. In 1940, the title officially became "The Miss America Pageant" and the pageant was held in Atlantic City's Convention Hall. In 1944, compensation for "Miss America" switched from "furs and movie contracts" to college scholarships.
During the 1930s, under the directorship of Lenora Slaughter, the pageant became segregated as rule number seven stated: "contestants must be of good health and of the white race." Rule seven was abolished in 1950. While there were Native American, Latina, and Asian-American contestants, there were no African-American contestants until 1970 when Cheryl Brown, Miss Iowa, competed (although African-Americans appeared in musical numbers as far back as 1923, when they were cast as slaves).
Nina Davuluri, (Miss America 2014), is the first Indian-American to win the pageant . She is the second Miss Syracuse to win after Miss New York 1983, Vanessa Lynn Williams. Miss Williams became the first African-American winner as Miss America 1984. Both Davaluri and Williams won when the pageant was held in Atlantic City and both faced a backlash over their respective wins. In addition, Congresswoman Grace Meng compared Davuluri to the first Miss New York to win the crown, Jewish-American winner Bess Myerson, (Miss America 1945). Myerson also faced a backlash as a result of her win.
The Early Years
The year after Margaret Gorman's win in 1921, Mary Katherine Campbell (Miss Ohio) won the Miss America contest in both 1922 and 1923. She returned to compete again in 1924 but placed as 1RU that year. Beginning in 1940, Bob Russell served as the first official host of the Pageant. In 1941, Mifauny Shunatona, Miss Oklahoma, became the first Native American contestant. A few years later, Miss New York Bess Myerson (Miss America 1945), became the first Jewish-American and the first Miss New York to win the Miss America Pageant. In 1948, Irma Nydia Vasquez, the first Miss Puerto Rico, became the first Latina contestant. In addition, in 1948 Yun Tau Chee, the first Miss Hawaii, was also the first Asian-American contestant.Miss America 1949 Jacque Mercer was married and divorced during her reign; after this, a rule was enacted requiring Miss America contestants to sign a certification that they have never been married or pregnant.
Starting in 1950, although the pageant continued to be in September, the Miss America title changed to "post-dated", thus that year's pageant winner became Miss American 1951, and there was no Miss America 1950.
The pageant was first televised nationally in 1954, hosted by Bob Russell. Future television star, Lee Meriwether, was crowned Miss America 1955. It would also be the last time Russell served as host. He recommended, and was replaced by, Bert Parks, who served as the host for the second televised pageant in 1955 and stayed as host until 1979. Television viewership peaked during the early 1960s, when it was the highest-rated program on American television.
With the rise of second-wave feminism and the civil rights movement during the 1960s, the Miss America Pageant became the subject of protests. In 1968, about 400 members of the group New York Radical Women demonstrated during the event on the Atlantic City boardwalk by crowning a sheep as Miss America and symbolically destroying a number of feminine products, including false eyelashes, high-heeled shoes, curlers, hairspray, makeup, girdles, corsets and bras. Burning the contents of a trash can was suggested, but a permit was unobtainable; news media seized on the similarity between draft resisters burning draft cards and women burning their bras. In fact there was no bra burning, nor did anyone remove her bra.:4 A pamphlet by Robin Morgan which was distributed at the Miss America protest, No More Miss America!, became a source for feminist scholarship.
In 1970, Cheryl Brown, Miss Iowa, was the first African-American contestant. During the 1970s, the pageant encouraged professional women to compete. Miss America 1974, Rebecca Ann King, was a law student who supported the legalization of abortion. In 1980, Lencola Sullivan, Miss Arkansas, became the first African-American contestant to finish in the top five. Later, in 1984, Vanessa L. Williams, Miss New York, became the first African-American Miss America when she was crowned Miss America 1984. She was forced to resign seven weeks prior to the end of her reign after the publication of nude photos in Penthouse. First runner-up Suzette Charles replaced her, serving as Miss America 1984 for the final weeks of Williams' reign. In 1985, Sharlene Wells Hawkes became the first foreign-born, bilingual Miss America, as she was born in Asunción, Paraguay. Heather Whitestone won the 1995 pageant becoming the first deaf Miss America (she lost most of her hearing at the age of 18 months). In 1999, Nicole Johnson (Miss Virginia) became the first Miss America with diabetes and the first contestant to publicize an insulin pump. Also in 1999, Miss America officials announced they had lifted the ban on contestants who were divorced or had had an abortion. This rule change, however, was rescinded and Miss America CEO Robert L. Beck, who had suggested it, was fired. Angela Perez Baraquio, Miss Hawaii, was crowned Miss America 2001, thereby becoming the first Asian-American, the first Filipino-American, as well as the first teacher ever to win the pageant.
During the period of 2004-2013, the Miss America Pageant changed locations, time periods, and networks. Miss America 2005 was held in Atlantic City on September 18, 2004 and was broadcast live on ABC. ABC dropped the pageant after this broadcast, however, as it "drew a record-low 9.8 million viewers." In addition, the winner for the Miss America 2005 pageant, Deidre Downs, held the position four months longer than usual as the Miss America 2006 pageant was moved from September, 2005 to January 21, 2006. Miss America 2006 also marked a move to the Las Vegas Strip's Theatre for the Performing Arts at the Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino. It was broadcast live on MTV Networks' Country Music Television. A few years later in 2009, Discovery Networks picked up the pageant on TLC (with Countdown to the Crown airing on Friday nights before the pageant). ABC resumed broadcasting the pageant for Miss America 2011, when Claire Buffie became the first Miss America contestant to advocate a gay-rights platform  and when Kayla Martell advanced to the semifinal round as the first bald contestant.Alexis Wineman, Miss Montana, became the first autistic contestant in the Miss America 2013 pageant.
Miss America 2014 - Present
The Miss America 2014 competition returned the pageant to its traditional location (Boardwalk Hall, previously known as Convention Hall, in Atlantic City, New Jersey) and month (September, rather than January) for the first time in nine years. Thus, Miss America 2013 (Miss New York 2012) Mallory Hagan's reign was cut short by four months (as she was crowned on January 12, 2013).
Miss New York 2013, Nina Davuluri, was the first Indian-American and second Asian-American to be chosen as Miss America. Shortly after Davaluri was crowned Miss America 2014, xenophobic and racist comments relating the proximity of the event date to the 9/11 anniversary and to anti-Indian sentiment appeared in American social media. News agencies cited tweets that misidentified her as Muslim or Arab, associated her with groups such as Al-Qaeda, and questioned why she was chosen over Miss Kansas, Theresa Vail. Davuluri said that she was prepared for the social media response because "as Miss New York, I was called a terrorist and very similar remarks." Miss Kansas, Theresa Vail, denounced this response in a September 19 post on her blog (Miss Outdoor Girl) and later referred to these comments as "disgusting," saying that they were made out of "ignorance.” In addition to Davaluri becoming the first Indian-American Miss America in the Miss America Pageant 2014, Vail was the first contestant to display tattoos in the swimsuit competition. Also Nicole Kelly, Miss Iowa 2013, became the first contestant born without part of one arm (her left forearm). Miss Florida, Myrrhanda Jones, won the preliminary talent competition for her baton twirling routine in the week prior to the Miss America 2014 Pageant, despite suffering a torn ACL and MCL in rehearsal just a few hours prior to her scheduled performance. During the Miss America 2014 Pageant, she performed with a decorated leg brace.
The following year, Miss New York 2014, Kira Kazantsev won the title of Miss America 2015. She was the third Miss New York in a row (after Mallory Hagan and Nina Davuluri) to win the title; New York thus became the first state to have a Miss America winner three years in a row.  Debra Cantoni, the executive director of the Miss New York State organization, credits these wins to the belief that "Miss America is not a beauty pageant [...] They’re looking at young women who are interested in education, in developing a platform. We do mock interviews with our contestants — they’re always looking at current events [...] They know what’s going on in the media, (and they) read the newspapers and watch the nightly news programs.”
The Miss America pageant has received criticism over the years from feminist activists and public figures. On September 7, 1968 it was the target of a protest by members of New York Radical Women, a feminist group. The protesters attacked the pageant as racist and objectifying women, comparing it to a county fair where livestock are judged. On September 21, 2014, comedian John Oliver ran a segment on his show, Last Week Tonight, in which he criticized the Miss America Organization. In the segment, he brought up quotes from the official Miss America rules that require that contestants "have never been married" and "have never been pregnant" and highlighted that contestants are required to use "butt glue" to keep their bikini bottoms from slipping. He also criticized the Miss America Organization's claim that it "makes available" "45 million dollars annually" for college scholarships. Using the organization's tax returns and other documents, he showed that the organization greatly inflates its number and that it donates far less than it claims to and that the $45 million figure the organization uses actually refers to has little to do with how much the organization actually gives out.
According to the official Miss America website, contestants must:
- "Be between the ages of 17 and 24.
- Be a United States citizen.
- Meet residency requirements for competing in a certain town or state.
- Meet character criteria as set forth by the Miss America Organization.
- Be in reasonably good health to meet the job requirements.
- Be able to meet the time commitment and job responsibilities as set forth by the local program in which you compete."
On June 14, 2014, Amanda Longacre was crowned Miss Delaware 2014, and prepared to compete in Miss America 2015. However, on June 27, 2014 she was stripped of the title and the crown was given to the runner-up, Brittany Lewis. According to news outlets, "officials said Longacre was ineligible under Miss America rules because she will turn 25 in October, and Miss America rules require that contestants in the current year must still be 24 on Dec. 31." Longacre filed a $3 million lawsuit that asks for her to be reinstated as Miss Delaware and be allowed to compete in the Miss America pageant. She also asks to be reimbursed for financial losses related to this decision. Media outlets further reported that, "officials with the national Miss America organization confirmed to ABC News ... that they plan to fight Longacre's lawsuit but will still give her the full $9,000 in scholarship money they pledged to her after she was disqualified ... Miss America officials last month blamed the error on state pageant officials who, they said, "missed the age discrepancy in Longacre’s submitted paperwork." 
According to the official Miss America website, contestants are judged in the following fashion:
- "Lifestyle and Fitness in Swimsuit - 15%
- Evening Wear - 20%
- Talent - 35%
- Private Interview - 25%
- On-Stage Question – 5%".
- "Composite Score - 30% (Top 16)
- Lifestyle and Fitness in Swimsuit - 20% (Top 16)
- Evening Wear - 20% (Top 10)
- Talent - 30% (Top 8)
- On-Stage Question (Top 8)
- Final Ballot – Each judge ranks the Top 5 contestants in the order he/she believes they should each finish. The outcome of the pageant is based solely on the point totals resulting from the final ballot."
- Brooke Burke Charvet: 2011–2012
- Mario Lopez 2009-2010
- Mark Steines: 2008
- Mario Lopez: 2007
- James Denton: 2006
- Chris Harrison: 2004
- Tom Bergeron: 2003
- Wayne Brady: 2002
- Tony Danza: 2001
- Donny and Marie: 1999–2000
- Boomer Esiason and Meredith Vieira: 1998
- Eva LaRue and John Callahan: 1997
- Regis Philbin: 1996
- Regis and Kathie Lee: 1991–1995
- Phyllis George: 1989-1990
- Gary Collins: 1982–1990
- Ron Ely: 1980–1981
- Bert Parks: 1955-1980 
- Bob Russell: 1940-1954 
- Shindle, Katherine. Being Miss America: Behind the Rhinestone Curtain. University of Texas Press, 2014.
- The American Experience: Miss America - American Experience, PBS (2001, 90 min)
- Miss America 2014: Groundbreaking Miss America Winner Miss New York Takes Home Pageant Crown - ABC News, September 16, 2013
- John Oliver Segment: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Miss America Pageant (HBO) - HBO, September 21, 2014
- Become a Contestant
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- Mary Katherine Campbell
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- Pageant tightens grip on its ideals
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- Chira, Susan. She has also lived in Brookville, Long Island
"TO FIRST BLACK MISS AMERICA, VICTORY IS A MEANS TO AN END", The New York Times, September 19, 1983. Accessed December 4, 2007. "Her home is in Mays Landing, 15 miles west of Atlantic City, the site of the contest."
- "Miss America : 1985". Miss America. Retrieved 2014-02-07.
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- "A Crown, Scepter & Insulin Pump The New Miss America, Nicole Johnson, Has Drawn Attention To The Device, Which Frees Diabetics From The Strict Scheduling Of Conventional Insulin Regimens. - Philly.com". Articles.philly.com. October 5, 1998. Retrieved September 22, 2013.
- Kaplan-Mayer, Gabrielle (2003). Insulin Pump Therapy Demystified: An Essential Guide for Everyone Pumping. Marlowe & Co. ISBN 0786730684. Retrieved September 22, 2013.
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- Miss America Finds A Ceo Down By The Boardwalk After 1999's Furor Over Rules Changes, The Former Claridge Official Says He Will Rebuild Bridges To State Pageants
- Miss America 2001
- "No More Miss America Pageantry for ABC". Washington Post. October 21, 2004.
- Kimberly Nordyke (March 30, 2007). "CMT Drops Miss America Pageant". Reuters. Retrieved December 15, 2011.
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- "Miss Kansas Bares Tattoos and 6 Other Memorable Miss America Moments | TIME.com". Newsfeed.time.com. September 14, 2013. Retrieved September 22, 2013.
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- Miss America Mallory Hagan in D.C.: Making most of short tenure
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- Brady, Dani (September 29, 2013). "The story behind the crown: an interview with Miss Kansas 2013". University Daily Kansan.
- Tattooed Kan. Guard sergeant is Miss America contestant
- Miss Kansas Bares Her Tattoos
- Miss America contestant born without forearm: 'I'm just like you'
- "Miss Florida, Despite Knee Injury, Wins Miss America Talent Competition". ABC News. September 13, 2013. Retrieved 2014-06-12.
- "Miss Florida Myrrhanda Jones’ Bedazzled Knee Brace Gets Twitter Attention At Miss America 2014". International Business Times. September 15, 2013. Retrieved 2014-06-12.
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- National Judging Process
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- Lopez to host Miss America pageant again
- Mario Lopez to Host Miss America 2010
- Miss America: FAQ
- Witchel, Alex (August 28, 2014). "Taking the Crown, Then Taking Orders: Former Miss America Kate Shindle Revisits Favorite Haunts". New York Times.
- Elisa, Lala (August 18, 2014). "Miss America winner writes book documenting experiences". Press of Atlantic City.
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