Atlantic City's Boardwalk Hall once again resounded with wild applause as 21-year-old Betty Cantrell, Miss Georgia, was crowned Miss America 2016 on Sunday, September 13. Along with the Miss America title, Miss Cantrell won a $50,000 scholarship, while the four runners-up won $25,000, $20,000, $15,000 and $10,000 scholarships respectively.
This year's contest could be called "the year of the South" as four of the top five contestants represented southern states. The first runner-up, Hannah Roberts, was Miss Mississippi, while the next three "winners" were Kelley Johnson, Miss Colorado; April Nelson, Miss Louisiana, and Meg McGuffin, Miss Alabama.
The southern states continued to dominate the competition as the top 15 competitors included Miss Tennessee, Miss Iowa, Miss West Virginia, Miss South Carolina, Miss Florida, Miss Oklahoma, Miss Virginia, Miss Texas, Miss Nebraska and Miss Arkansas. Although the South was particularly strong in this year's competition, it's interesting to note that the winner of the last three Miss America contests was Miss New York.
Open to women between the ages of 17 and 24 from throughout the United States, the Miss America contest is now judged on competitors' talent performances and interviews in addition to their physical appearance. Miss America typically travels about 20,000 miles a month during her rein, changing her location every 24 to 48 hours as she tours the nation promoting her particular platform of interest, which in Miss Cantrell's case is "Healthy Children, Strong America."
For those who like history, the Miss America competition is now 95 years old. It started as a beauty contest in 1921 in Atlantic City, New Jersey.