Miss America has crowned its new winner!
At the end of Sunday evening’s live competition, Cara Mund of North Dakota ended her run as Miss America 2018 when she crowned Miss New York Nia Imani Franklin with the 2019 Miss America tiara.
“It took a lot of perseverance to get here and I just want to thank my beautiful family,” she said.
Co-hosted by Carrie Ann Inaba and Ross Mathews, the pageant featured 51 women competing for the coveted title. Laila Ali, Bobby Jones, Jessie James Decker, Randy Jackson, Soledad O’Brien, Alli Webb and Carnie Wilson served as judges.
This year, the competition made history when it eliminated the swimsuit portion, among other changes.
“Starting this year, candidates will no longer be judged on outward appearance. The choice of wardrobe is now open so everyone can express their own very individual style,” the Miss America website reads. “Throughout the competition, candidates will have opportunities to advocate for their social initiatives. And to demonstrate how they are uniquely qualified for the exciting, challenging 365-day job of Miss America.
In June, Gretchen Carlson, Miss America 1989 and chair of the Board of Trustees of the Miss America Organization, announced that the organization was making major changes to the contest, including scrapping the swimsuit portion.
“We are no longer a pageant. We are a competition,” Carlson said on Good Morning America. “We will no longer judge our candidates on their outward physical appearance. That’s huge. And that means we will no longer have a swimsuit competition.”
She added that they are also “revamping” the evening gown portion, instead asking contestants to use their clothes to express their personal style.
Carlson, 51, said they want the more inclusive competition to inspire more women.
“We’ve heard from a lot of young women who say, ‘We’d love to be a part of your program but we don’t want to be out there in high heels and a swimsuit,’ so guess what, you don’t have to do that anymore,” she said. “Who doesn’t want to be empowered, learn leadership skills and pay for college and be able to show the world who you are as a person from the inside of your soul? That’s what we’re judging them on.”
Miss America 2019 aired live on ABC.