06:33 AM EDT 10/16/2013
Originally posted 09/16/2013 02:00AM
Moments after winning the 2014 Miss America crown, Nina Davuluri described how delighted she is that the nearly century-old pageant sees beauty and talent of all kinds.
The 24-year-old Miss New York is the first contestant of Indian heritage to become Miss America; her talent routine was a Bollywood fusion dance.
"I'm so happy this organization has embraced diversity," she said in a press conference after winning the crown in Atlantic City, N.J.'s Boardwalk Hall. "I'm thankful there are children watching at home who can finally relate to a new Miss America."
Originally posted 09/10/2013 12:05PM
The Miss America Pageant won't know what hit it when it lays eyes on Miss Kansas, Sgt. Theresa Vail.
Once the competition's preliminaries begin in Atlantic City, N.J., on Tuesday, Sept. 10, Vail will be the second contestant in the military to compete (Miss Utah 2007 was a combat medic in the Army National Guard).
But when she struts down Boardwalk Hall in her bikini, she'll be breaking a long-standing taboo with her two giant tattoos – the insignia for the U.S. Army Dental Corps on her left shoulder and the Serenity Prayer running down her right side.
"Why am I choosing to bear my tattoos?" Vail says. "My whole platform is empowering women to overcome stereotypes and break barriers. What a hypocrite I would be if I covered my ink. How can I tell other women to be fearless and true to themselves if I can't do the same? I am who I am, tattoos and all."
Originally posted 01/13/2013 04:00PM
The new Miss America is an Alabama-bred blonde beauty who lives in Brooklyn, N.Y., and loves '80s pop music. But Mallory Hytes Hagan is more than just a pretty face who tap-danced her way into the judges' hearts on Saturday.
Here are five things to know about the new Miss America:
1. Modern Day Rags to Riches?
At 18, Hagan moved to New York with only $1,000 in her pocket. "I just didn't know that $1,000 wasn't enough money," she told PEOPLE. "I look back at my parents now for letting me do it and I think, 'Are you crazy?' " I genuinely think they thought I'd be there for three weeks and move back. I hit the ground running and had three job offers in first day."
Originally posted 01/12/2013 11:45PM
The crown is headed to the Big Apple!
Brooklyn, N.Y., resident Mallory Hytes Hagan was crowned Miss America in Las Vegas on Saturday.
Miss New York, 23, beat out Miss South Carolina Ali Rogers, who placed second, and Miss Oklahoma Alicia Clifton, who finished third. Miss Wyoming Lexie Madden and Miss Iowa Mariah Cary rounded out the top five.
Miss Montana Alexis Wineman, who has autism, was one of 16 semifinalists.
Originally posted 01/12/2013 03:00PM
Seven years ago, a bubbly and emotional Montana girl received news that her brain functioned differently than others: She was diagnosed with autism. On Saturday, that same girl could be crowed the new Miss America.
Alexis Wineman, 18, is the youngest of the 53 women vying for the title of Miss America in Las Vegas on Saturday. But Wineman hasn't always lived a life of glamour, having been diagnosed with PDD-NOS (Pervasive Developmental Disorder – Not Otherwise Specified) at 11 years old. According to the Autism Speaks website, someone with PDD-NOS "has some but not all characteristics of autism or ... has relatively mild symptoms."
Originally posted 11/16/2012 07:30AM
Allyn Rose is more than just another pretty face.
The Miss America contestant, who will represent Washington, D.C., in the Jan. 12 pageant live on ABC, lost her mom to breast cancer at age 16. Now, at only 24 years old, Rose has decided she will undergo a double mastectomy as a preventative measure after learning she is a carrier of the same rare chromosomal disease that her mother had.
"The idea that I could wake up one day and not have the same body that I did the day before is very scary," Rose, a self-proclaimed former tomboy, tells PEOPLE. "But I also realize my mom was diagnosed at 27. That's three years away from me. I'm not going to let my fear of losing this part of my femininity stop me from living."
Originally posted 01/15/2012 04:40PM
When Laura Kaeppeler was crowned Miss America on Saturday, she was already known as a stunning brunette who could belt out opera and didn't think Miss America should declare a political party.
Shortly after being crowned, the new Miss America chatted with PEOPLE, saying there's a lot more to the small town Wisconsin girl who plans to pursue a law degree.
Here are five things to know about Kaeppeler.
Originally posted 01/15/2012 10:00AM
Smiling and sobbing, Miss Wisconsin Laura Kaeppeler's dream was realized on Saturday evening – she was crowned Miss America.
"In that moment I didn't know what to think," Kaeppeler says. "It was all kind of a blur."
The odds-on favorite was crowned on the 91st anniversary of the pageant. Aside from the shimmering crown, Kaeppeler, 23, receives a $50,000 scholarship and represent the Miss America pageant for the next year.
Originally posted 01/14/2012 08:00PM
It will be football pads vs. evening gowns. Tim Tebow and Tom Brady vs. Miss Colorado and Miss Massachusetts.
As it did last year, the famed Miss America pageant will be going head to head with the mighty NFL on network television in prime time.
Here are five reasons (aside from 53 stunning women in bathing suits!) to tune into the 2012 Miss America Pageant at 9 p.m. on ABC.
Originally posted 12/28/2011 08:00AM
These days, slipping into a pair of size 2 skinny jeans isn't a challenge for Miss South Carolina, Bree Boyce. But for most of her life, Boyce says she was "miserable in my own skin" as a heavyset kid growing up in Florence, S.C.
"I used to make fun of my weight with others to fit in and be the funny, overweight girl," Boyce, 22, tells PEOPLE in this week's annual Half Their Size cover story.
"I'd go home and cry, not because of what others had said about me, but about what I had said about myself," she adds.
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