Miss America Cheers Pageant Diversity as Indian-American Wins

Wayne Parry, CNS News, September 16, 2013

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 her first 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.”

Her pageant platform was “celebrating diversity through cultural competency.”

The native of Syracuse, N.Y. wants to be a doctor, and is applying to medical school, with the help of a $50,000 scholarship she won as part of the pageant title.

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Davuluri’s victory led to some negative comments on Twitter from users upset that someone of Indian heritage had won the pageant. She brushed those aside.

“I have to rise above that,” she said. “I always viewed myself as first and foremost American.”

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In the run-up to the pageant, much attention was given to Miss Kansas, Theresa Vail, the Army sergeant who was believed to have been the first Miss America contestant to openly display tattoos. She has the Serenity Prayer on her rib cage, and a smaller military insignia on the back of one shoulder.

Vail won a nationwide “America’s Choice” vote to advance as a semi-finalist, but failed to make it into the Top 10.

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Jones made it into the top 5 wearing a bedazzled knee brace. She tore knee ligaments Thursday while rehearsing her baton-twirling routine, which she executed flawlessly Sunday night.

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MissAmerica

Nina Davuluri

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