Miss America 2019 swept into Atlantic City, N.J., on Sunday night along with heavy rains and high winds — a fitting combination, considering the storm of controversy brewing in and around the 93-year-old annual event.
Broadcast live on ABC, the competition conveyed none of the drama that has beset the Miss America Organization since a change in leadership this past year. A key issue was the decision to drop the swimsuit portion of the competition, fitting for the #MeToo moment but unpopular with many in the pageant community. On Sunday night, a warm-up announcer was met with loud boos when he reminded the audience that the swimsuit portion of the competition was no more.
The new Miss America welcomes the shift. “These changes, I think, will be great for our organization,” Nia Imani Franklin told reporters shortly after being crowned. “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.
“I’m happy that I didn’t have to do so to win this title tonight, because I’m more than just that, and all these women onstage are more than just that,” Franklin said.