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New York crowned Miss America 2014

(Photo: Mel Evans, AP)

Miss America returned to Atlantic City for the first time in six years to crown a new 2014 winner.
"Atlantic City has survived Hurricane Sandy!" said Good Morning America's Lara Spencer, who co-hosted the ABC show with Chris Harrison.
And now it has survived the mother of all beauty pageants.
After a night of big numbers, long evening gowns, tight swimsuit strutting, dancing, singing and, yes, answering those tough judges' questions (including ones about Miley Cyrus and Syria!), the 53 Miss America contestants (50 states, District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands) were narrowed down to one winner.
Miss New York Nina Davuluri, 24, from Syracuse, sashayed off with the tiara and the $50,000 scholarship cash. She performed a Bollywood fusion dance (after missing her cue at first) and answered a question about plastic surgery. ("Be confident in who you are!") She said she hopes to become a doctor, like her father, who is an obstetrician. She once battled bulimia, according to a July story, and is the first Indian-American to serve as Miss New York/ She is the first Miss America winner of Indian descent.
Here's how it all played out:
The contestants introduced themselves in a taped segment with those quippy catchphrases, including:
•"From the state known for its national football championships, here's your champion tonight, I'm Miss Alabama, Chandler Champion."
•"Tweet me, like me, text me! Streaming to you from Silicon Valley, I'm Crystal Lee, Miss California.
•"Listening to your phone calls from the Nation's Capital. Just kidding! I'm Miss District of Columbia, Bindhu Pamarthi."
•"Once most famous for the fountain of youth, now we're known as America's weirdest state. I am Miss Florida, Myrrhanda Jones."
•"Out of 5,500 Kansas Army National Guardsmen, Uncle Sam wanted me. Hoping you will too, I am Miss Kansas Theresa Vail."
•"From the home of Duck Dynasty, I'm here to trade in my duck call for the Miss America crown. I'm Miss Louisiana Jaden Leach."
•"From the home of the reigning Super Bowl champions, you bet I'm wacko for Flacco. I'm Christina Denny, Miss Maryland."
•"The Jersey shore is back and, no, I don't mean the TV show. Welcome home, Miss America. I'm Cara McCollum, Miss New Jersey."
•"I'm not Breaking Bad. I'm breaking through. Say my name, Alexis Duprey, Miss New Mexico."
•"From the state with the lowest unemployment, I'm looking for a job tonight. I am Miss North Dakota Laura Harmon."
•"From the birthplace of Brad Pitt, Chuck Norris and Kristin Chenoweth — beauty, brawn and talent, I'm Kelsey Griswold, Miss Oklahoma.
•From the state where 20% of our homes are mobile, because that's how we roll, I'm Brooke Mosteller, Miss South Carolina."
•"Even though I'm lactose intolerant, Ben and Jerry are still my two favorite guys. I'm Miss Vermont, Jeanelle Achee."
The celeb judges for the night: Lance Bass, Mario Cantone, Carla Hall, Barbara Corcoran, Joshua Bell, Amar'e Stoudemire and the last Miss America to be crowned in Atlantic City, Deidre Downs Gunn,
Co-host Harrison got the crowd pumped up for the first part of the competition — announcing the semifinalists.
First up was "America's choice," chosen by online vote: Miss Kansas Theresa Vail (talking about tattoos and Army life paid off for her!) "I am so honored," she said. "To be fair, I did have the backing of an entire army, literally."
Joining her in the semifinals:
Miss California Crystal Lee 
Miss New York Nina Davuluri
Miss Oklahoma Kelsey Griswold
Miss Connecticut Kaitlyn Tarpey
Miss Georgia Carly Mathis
Miss Mississippi Chelsea Rick
Miss Texas Ivana Hall
Miss Arkansas Amy Crain
Miss Missouri Shelby Ringdahl
Miss Kentucky Jenna Day
Miss Maryland Christina Denny
Miss Florida Myrrhanda Jones 
Miss Wisconsin Paula Mae Kuiper
Miss Minnesota Rebecca Yeh
And then came the swimsuit competition, featuring a parade of bikinis in red, white, black, green and animal prints.
Miss Kansas showed off her tattoos, as promised. Miss Florida went barefoot and wore a bedazzled knee brace after tearing two ligaments on Thursday night after a fall during her baton-twirling talent rehearsal. Everyone else showed long legs and spray tans, concave tummies and big smiles.
Judge Bass assured that Miss Florida's knee brace wouldn't affect the judges at all. "God bless her," he said.
The Top 12 finalists:
Miss Maryland Christina Denny
Miss Connecticut Kaitlyn Tarpey
Miss Florida Myrrhanda Jones
Miss Missouri Shelby Ringdahl
Miss Oklahoma Kelsey Griswold
Miss New York Nina Davuluri
Miss Wisconsin Paula Mae Kuiper
Miss Texas Ivana Hall
Miss California Crystal Lee
Miss Kansas Theresa Vail
Miss Georgia Carly Mathis
Miss Minnesota Rebecca Yeh
Judge Hall said, "Judging is much harder than competing because judging you have someone's life or future in your hands."
The evening wear featured "beautiful girls in beautiful gowns," said Harrison but the judges were looking for "style and panache."
The gowns were sparkly, plunging, slit up high and weighed down with long trains. Miss Florida wore flat sandals with hers.
Top 10 Talent Performances:
Miss Oklahoma Kesley Griswold sang Everybody Says Don't. Fun facts we learned while she sang: Rides horses bareback, appeared on the Rosie O'Donnell Show.
Miss New York Nina Davuluri performed a Bollywood dance. (Lara Spencer had to yell her name three times before she realized she was being called on stage.) Fun fact: Egypt is her favorite place to travel.
Miss Kansas Therea Vail sang Puccini's Nessun Dorma. She wanted to do some sort of archery but it wasn't allowed, so she learned the song by watching it on YouTube.
Miss California Crystal Lee performed a ballet dance. Fun facts: She is fluent in Mandarin and Chinese and obtained a B.A. and M.A. from Stanford in four years.
Miss Connecticut Kaitlyn Tarpey did an Irish step dance. Fun fact: French is her first language.
Miss Georgia Carly Mathis sang On My Own from Les Miserables. Fun facts: Her feet are two different sizes. Her dog has met the president.
Miss Texas Ivana Hall sang a jazzy Fever. Fun fact: She cannot live without coffee.
Said judge Mario Cantone: "It's overwhelming. I feel like I'm in some gay to straight conversion therapy right now!"
Miss Minnesota Rebecca Yeh played a scherzo on the violin. Fun fact: She still fears the Snow White witch and is always 15 minutes early.
Miss Maryland Christina Denny sang a song from Wicked. She wants to ride elephants in Thailand and she enjoys cutting hair.
Miss Florida Myrrhanda Jones took the stage with her knee brace on and performed a baton-twirling routine. She managed to twirl and spin through it flawlessly, juggling three batons at one point.
Top Five Who Answered Questions:
Miss Oklahoma Kelsey Griswold was asked a question by Cantone. He said that "Miley Cyrus has caused a media sensation... What do you think of her? "I'm going to be honest. I don't think her performance was twerking for me. Get it?" She added, "It was not super tasteful but ... I have to respect her creativity."
Miss Minnesota Rebecca Yeh was asked by Lance Bass about political wives supporting cheating, scandalous husbands. Should they stand by them? "I think they're doing the right thing by standing by that man they fell in love with ... That husband needs to get it together, though."
Miss California Crystal Lee was asked by Joshua Bell about Syria. "I believe as one of the most powerful countries in the world we do have an ethical obligation to prevent a leader of a country who is using chemical weapons on his people. I believe we should use congressional support if we can. And the U.N."
Miss New York Nina Davuluri was asked by Carla Hall about Julie Chen's decision to have plastic surgery about making her eyes less Asian. "I don't agree with plastic surgery, however I can understand that from a standpoint. More importantly I've always viewed Miss America as the girl next door. And Miss America is always evolving... I wouldn't want to change someone's looks. Be confident in who you are."
Miss Florida Myrrhanda Jones was asked about minorities having low-incomes and high-unemployment and incarceration rates. What should the country do to address this? "My father is unemployed. It took a lot for me to be able to stand on this stage. ... We need to have more jobs in America." She was cut off before she could continue.
"Don't make me the bad guy," Harrison said. "OK, I'm the bad guy."
But it was time to crown the winner.
Fourth runner-up: Miss Minnesota Rebecca Yeh
Third runner-up: Miss Florida Myrrhanda Jones
Second runner-up: Miss Oklahoma Kesley Griswold
It came down to two Asian-Americans.
Runner up: Miss California Crystal Lee
And the winner: The new Miss America is Miss New York Nina Cavuluri!

***New York wins for the second straight year in a row, as last year's Miss America Mallory Hagan was also from the Empire State.
Source:, 9/15/2013


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