Miss Illinois was the winner, Judith Ford performing on a trampoline during the talent competition of the pageant. She later became a physical education teacher at an elementary school.
A Miss America protest was held outside of Boardwalk Hall at the same time, involving about 200 members of the group New York Radical Women. In addition, a pamphlet distributed at the protest by Robin Morgan, No More Miss America!, became a source for feminist scholarship. The protest was co-sponsored by Florynce Kennedy’s Media Workshop, an activist group she founded in 1966 to protest the media’s representation of African Americans, along with the feminist Jeanette Rankin Brigade and the ACLU. Morgan later stated that the Miss America pageant "was chosen as a target for a number of reasons: it has always been a lily-white, racist contest; the winner tours Vietnam, entertaining the troops as a 'Murder Mascot; the whole gimmick is one commercial shillgame to sell the sponsor’s products. Where else could one find such a perfect combination of American values—racism, militarism, sexism—all packaged in one ‘ideal symbol,’a woman.”The protesters compared the pageant to a county fair where livestock are judged. They thus crowned a sheep as Miss America and symbolically destroyed 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. In fact there was no bra burning, nor did anyone remove her bra. However, a reporter covering the protest (Lindsy Van Gelder) drew an analogy between the feminist protesters and Vietnam War protesters who burned their draft cards, and the bra-burning trope was erroneously and permanently attached to the event and became a catch-phrase of the feminist era. The protesters did unfurl a large banner emblazoned with "Women's Liberation" inside the contest hall, and they drew worldwide media attention and national attention to the Women’s Liberation Movement.
A lesser known protest was also organized on the same day by civil rights activist J. Morriss Anderson. It was held at the Ritz Carlton Hotel a few blocks from the Miss America pageant. They crowned the first Miss Black America.