The latest Miss America has been crowned! Miss New York, Nia Franklin, was declared the winner of the 2019 title during last night's telecast of the annual event. It was the first pageant following the initiation of changes that brought an end to the pageant's high-profile swimsuit competition. Nia Franklin became the first Miss America to win after the retool. Following her victory, Franklin opened up about her feelings surrounding winning without the swimsuit portion of the competition, saying:
These changes, I think, will be great for our organization. I've already seen so many young women reaching out to me personally as Miss New York asking how they can get involved because I think they feel more empowered that they don't have to do things such as walk in a swimsuit for a scholarship.
Newly crowned Miss America, Nia Franklin, went on to tell reporters that she was "happy" that she did not have to participate in the swimsuit portion of the pageant to win the title. Saying that she and the other women she competed with are more than "just that," per Fox News. The decision to end the long-debated swimsuit element of the competition was announced by Miss America's national chairwoman Gretchen Carlson back in June. Carlson won Miss America in 1989.
The swimsuit decision has not been without its controversy, including with those working behind the scenes at the organization. As it stands, a majority of the Miss America pageant's state organizations have called for both Gretchen Carlson and the Miss America organization's CEO, Regina Hopper, to resign. That's right. Due to dissatisfaction with how the decision to end the swimsuit portion of the competition was reached, along with other aspects of Gretchen Carlson and Regina Hopper's tenure, 46 out of 51 state pageant organizations have called for them to step down from their posts.
Despite the pressure, neither Gretchen Carlson nor Regina Hopper have done so. And if you are wondering why outgoing Miss America, Cara Mund, was not allowed to speak live at last night's broadcast, there is a backstory. Adding more fuel to the fire, Mund has accused both Carlson and Hopper of forcing topics on her and keeping her from championing causes she wanted to champion. During last night's broadcast, a 30-second taped segment of Mund talking was shown instead of her speaking live.
While the swimsuit competition change has been highly publicized, it was not the only change made. Gretchen Carlson also announced that competitors would no longer be required to wear an evening gown as part of their formal dress wear. Instead, the women have been permitted to wear the evening outfit of their choice. One of the sections left unaltered by Carlson's revamp announcement was the talent portion of the competition.
With another Miss America winner in the books, spectators will have to stay tuned as to whether things at the organization remain the same, including if alterations to Miss America's top brass will be made. We do know the changes to the competition did not help the broadcast's ratings. Last night's pageant slipped to a new low in viewership on ABC, per Forbes. Thus marking another fall in the ratings for the show. Time will tell, how viewers show up for fall's new programming.