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|Headquarters||Atlantic City, New Jersey, United States|
|Key people||Sam Haskell (CEO)|
|Headquarters||Atlantic City, New Jersey, United States|
|Key people||Sam Haskell (CEO)|
The Miss America Pageant is a competition which awards scholarships for college and graduate school to American women between the ages of 17 to 24. Miss America travels about 20,000 miles a month, changing her location every 24 to 48 hours. She tours the nation promoting her particular platform of interest.
The current Miss America is Kira Kazantsev of New York. She was crowned on September 14, 2014, at the 88th pageant by her predecessor, Nina Davuluri, Miss America 2014, making her the third consecutive Miss America winner from New York.
The origins of the Miss America Pageant lie in a 1920 event entitled The Fall Frolic. Held on September 25 in Atlantic City, New Jersey, the event was designed to bring business to the Boardwalk: "three hundred and fifty gaily decorated rolling wicker chairs were pushed along the parade route. Three hundred and fifty men pushed the chairs. However, the main attractions were the young 'maidens' who sat in the rolling chairs, headed by a Miss Ernestine Cremona, who was dressed in a flowing white robe and represented "Peace." 
The event was so successful that The Businessmen's League planned to repeat it the following year as a beauty pageant or a "bather's revue"  (to capitalize on the popularlity of newspaper-based beauty contests that used photo submissions). Thus, "newspapers as far west as Pittsburgh and as far south as Washington, D.C., were asked to sponsor local beauty contests. The winners would participate in the Atlantic City contest. If the local newspaper would pay for the winner's wardrobe, the Atlantic City Businessmen's League would pay for the contestant's travel to compete in the Inter-City Beauty Contest." Herb Test, a "newspaperman" coined the term for the winner as, "Miss America." On September 8, 1921, 100,000 people gathered at the Boardwalk to watch the contestants from Washington, D.C., Pittsburgh, Harrisburg, Ocean City, Camden, Newark, New York, and Philadelphia. The 16 year-old winner from Washington D.C., Margaret Gorman was crowned the "Golden Mermaid" and won $100.
The pageant continued consistently over the next eight decades except for the years 1929-1933, when it was temporarily shut down due to financial problems and suggestions that it promoted "loose morals." With its revival in 1933, 15 year-old Marian Bergeron won, prompting future contestants to be between the ages of 18 to 26. In 1935, Lenora Slaughter was hired to "re-invent" the pageant and served for 32 years as its Director. By 1938, a talent section was added to the competition, and contestants were required to have a chaperone. In 1940, the title officially became "The Miss America Pageant" and the pageant was held in Atlantic City's Convention Hall. In 1944, compensation for "Miss America" switched from "furs and movie contracts" to college scholarships.
During the 1930s, under the directorship of Lenora Slaughter, the pageant became segregated as rule number seven stated: "contestants must be of good health and of the white race." Rule seven was abolished in 1950. While there were Native American, Latina, and Asian-American contestants, there were no African-American contestants until 1970 when Cheryl Brown, Miss Iowa, competed (although African-Americans appeared in musical numbers as far back as 1923, when they were cast as slaves).
Nina Davuluri, (Miss America 2014), is the first Indian-American to win the pageant . She is the second Miss Syracuse to win after Miss New York 1983, Vanessa Lynn Williams. Miss Williams became the first African-American winner as Miss America 1984. Both Davaluri and Williams won when the pageant was held in Atlantic City and both faced a backlash over their respective wins. In addition, Congresswoman Grace Meng compared Davuluri to the first Miss New York to win the crown, Jewish-American winner Bess Myerson, (Miss America 1945). Myerson also faced a backlash as a result of her win.
The year after Margaret Gorman's win in 1921, Mary Katherine Campbell (Miss Ohio) won the Miss America contest in both 1922 and 1923. She returned to compete again in 1924 but placed as 1RU that year. Beginning in 1940, Bob Russell served as the first official host of the Pageant. In 1941, Mifauny Shunatona, Miss Oklahoma, became the first Native American contestant. A few years later, Miss New York Bess Myerson (Miss America 1945), became the first Jewish-American and the first Miss New York to win the Miss America Pageant. In 1948, Irma Nydia Vasquez, the first Miss Puerto Rico, became the first Latina contestant. In addition, in 1948 Yun Tau Chee, the first Miss Hawaii, was also the first Asian-American contestant.Miss America 1949 Jacque Mercer was married and divorced during her reign; after this, a rule was enacted requiring Miss America contestants to sign a certification that they have never been married or pregnant.
Starting in 1950, although the pageant continued to be in September, the Miss America title changed to "post-dated", thus that year's pageant winner became Miss American 1951, and there was no Miss America 1950.
The pageant was first televised nationally in 1954, hosted by Bob Russell. Future television star, Lee Meriwether, was crowned Miss America 1955. It would also be the last time Russell served as host. He recommended, and was replaced by, Bert Parks, who served as the host for the second televised pageant in 1955 and stayed as host until 1979. Television viewership peaked during the early 1960s, when it was the highest-rated program on American television.
With the rise of second-wave feminism and the civil rights movement during the 1960s, the Miss America Pageant became the subject of protests. In 1968, about 400 members of the group New York Radical Women demonstrated during the event on the Atlantic City boardwalk by crowning a sheep as Miss America and symbolically destroying a number of feminine products, including false eyelashes, high-heeled shoes, curlers, hairspray, makeup, girdles, corsets and bras. Burning the contents of a trash can was suggested, but a permit was unobtainable; news media seized on the similarity between draft resisters burning draft cards and women burning their bras. In fact there was no bra burning, nor did anyone remove her bra.:4 A pamphlet by Robin Morgan which was distributed at the Miss America protest, No More Miss America!, became a source for feminist scholarship.
In 1970, Cheryl Brown, Miss Iowa, was the first African-American contestant. During the 1970s, the pageant encouraged professional women to compete. Miss America 1974, Rebecca Ann King, was a law student who supported the legalization of abortion. In 1980, Lencola Sullivan, Miss Arkansas, became the first African-American contestant to finish in the top five. Later, in 1984, Vanessa L. Williams, Miss New York, became the first African-American Miss America when she was crowned Miss America 1984. She was forced to resign seven weeks prior to the end of her reign after the publication of nude photos in Penthouse. First runner-up Suzette Charles replaced her, serving as Miss America 1984 for the final weeks of Williams' reign. In 1985, Sharlene Wells Hawkes became the first foreign-born, bilingual Miss America, as she was born in Asunción, Paraguay. Heather Whitestone won the 1995 pageant becoming the first deaf Miss America (she lost most of her hearing at the age of 18 months). In 1999, Nicole Johnson (Miss Virginia) became the first Miss America with diabetes and the first contestant to publicize an insulin pump. Also in 1999, Miss America officials announced they had lifted the ban on contestants who were divorced or had had an abortion. This rule change, however, was rescinded and Miss America CEO Robert L. Beck, who had suggested it, was fired. Angela Perez Baraquio, Miss Hawaii, was crowned Miss America 2001, thereby becoming the first Asian-American, the first Filipino-American, as well as the first teacher ever to win the pageant.
During the period of 2004-2013, the Miss America Pageant changed locations, time periods, and networks. Miss America 2005 was held in Atlantic City on September 18, 2004 and was broadcast live on ABC. ABC dropped the pageant after this broadcast, however, as it "drew a record-low 9.8 million viewers." In addition, the winner for the Miss America 2005 pageant, Deidre Downs, held the position four months longer than usual as the Miss America 2006 pageant was moved from September, 2005 to January 21, 2006. Miss America 2006 also marked a move to the Las Vegas Strip's Theatre for the Performing Arts at the Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino. It was broadcast live on MTV Networks' Country Music Television. A few years later in 2009, Discovery Networks picked up the pageant on TLC (with Countdown to the Crown airing on Friday nights before the pageant). ABC resumed broadcasting the pageant for Miss America 2011, when Claire Buffie became the first Miss America contestant to advocate a gay-rights platform  and when Kayla Martell advanced to the semifinal round as the first bald contestant.Alexis Wineman, Miss Montana, became the first autistic contestant in the Miss America 2013 pageant.
The Miss America 2014 competition returned the pageant to its traditional location (Boardwalk Hall, previously known as Convention Hall, in Atlantic City, New Jersey) and month (September, rather than January) for the first time in nine years. Thus, Miss America 2013 (Miss New York 2012) Mallory Hagan's reign was cut short by four months (as she was crowned on January 12, 2013).
Miss New York 2013, Nina Davuluri, was the first Indian-American and second Asian-American to be chosen as Miss America. Shortly after Davaluri was crowned Miss America 2014, xenophobic and racist comments relating the proximity of the event date to the 9/11 anniversary and to anti-Indian sentiment appeared in American social media. News agencies cited tweets that misidentified her as Muslim or Arab, associated her with groups such as Al-Qaeda, and questioned why she was chosen over Miss Kansas, Theresa Vail. Davuluri said that she was prepared for the social media response because "as Miss New York, I was called a terrorist and very similar remarks." Miss Kansas, Theresa Vail, denounced this response in a September 19 post on her blog (Miss Outdoor Girl) and later referred to these comments as "disgusting," saying that they were made out of "ignorance.” In addition to Davaluri becoming the first Indian-American Miss America in the Miss America Pageant 2014, Vail was the first contestant to display tattoos in the swimsuit competition. Also Nicole Kelly, Miss Iowa 2013, became the first contestant born without part of one arm (her left forearm). Miss Florida, Myrrhanda Jones, won the preliminary talent competition for her baton twirling routine in the week prior to the Miss America 2014 Pageant, despite suffering a torn ACL and MCL in rehearsal just a few hours prior to her scheduled performance. During the Miss America 2014 Pageant, she performed with a decorated leg brace.
The following year, Miss New York 2014, Kira Kazantsev won the title of Miss America 2015. She was the third Miss New York in a row (after Mallory Hagan and Nina Davuluri) to win the title; New York thus became the first state to have a Miss America winner three years in a row.  Debra Cantoni, the executive director of the Miss New York State organization, credits these wins to the belief that "Miss America is not a beauty pageant [...] They’re looking at young women who are interested in education, in developing a platform. We do mock interviews with our contestants — they’re always looking at current events [...] They know what’s going on in the media, (and they) read the newspapers and watch the nightly news programs.”
According to the official Miss America website, contestants must:
On June 14, 2014, Amanda Longacre was crowned Miss Delaware 2014, and prepared to compete in Miss America 2015. However, on June 27, 2014 she was stripped of the title and the crown was given to the runner-up, Brittany Lewis. According to news outlets, "officials said Longacre was ineligible under Miss America rules because she will turn 25 in October, and Miss America rules require that contestants in the current year must still be 24 on Dec. 31." Longacre filed a $3 million lawsuit that asks for her to be reinstated as Miss Delaware and be allowed to compete in the Miss America pageant. She also asks to be reimbursed for financial losses related to this decision. Media outlets further reported that, "officials with the national Miss America organization confirmed to ABC News ... that they plan to fight Longacre's lawsuit but will still give her the full $9,000 in scholarship money they pledged to her after she was disqualified ... Miss America officials last month blamed the error on state pageant officials who, they said, "missed the age discrepancy in Longacre’s submitted paperwork." 
According to the official Miss America website, contestants are judged in the following fashion:
|Year||Miss America||State Represented|
|Miss America 2016||TBA||TBA|
|Miss America 2015||Kira Kazantsev||New York|
|Miss America 2014||Nina Davuluri||New York|
|Miss America 2013||Mallory Hagan||New York|
|Miss America 2012||Laura Kaeppeler||Wisconsin|
|Miss America 2011||Teresa Scanlan||Nebraska|
|Miss America 2010||Caressa Cameron||Virginia|
|Miss America 2009||Katie Stam||Indiana|
|Miss America 2008||Kirsten Haglund||Michigan|
|Miss America 2007||Lauren Nelson||Oklahoma|
|Miss America 2006||Jennifer Berry||Oklahoma|
|Miss America 2005||Deidre Downs||Alabama|
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Miss America.|