There she is: Miss America 2014! Besting 52 other beauty queens (50 U.S. states plus the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Island), Miss New York Nina Davuluri won the coveted crown in the pageant, which aired live on ABC from Atlantic City, NJ on Sunday Sept. 15. The triumph of the 24-year-old from Syracuse, New York marks a milestone in the history of the institution: Davuluri is the very first woman of Indian descent to win the crown.
Davuluri paid tribute to her heritage with a spirited Bollywood number during the performance segment of the show -- although she missed her cue twice, with hostess Lara Spencer forced to yell her name three times before Davuluri went onstage. During the always-interesting Q&A portion of the competition, the beauty addressed one of last week's biggest stories on Us Weekly: The Talk host Julie Chen's revelation that she had undergone plastic surgery to make her eyes look "less Asian" and thus improve her career chances.
"I don't agree with plastic surgery, however I can understand that from a standpoint," Davuluri, an aspiring doctor, said. "More importantly I've always viewed Miss America as the girl next door. And Miss America is always evolving... I wouldn't want to change someone's looks. Be confident in who you are."
To win this year's title, Davuluri bested Miss California Crystal Lee (the runner-up earned both her B.A. and M.A. at Stanford in just four years, and is fluent in Mandarin), Miss Oklahoma Kesley Griswold (second runner-up), Miss Florida Myrrhanda Jones (the third runner up memorably wore a knee brace during the swimsuit competition) and Miss Minnesota Rebecca Yeh (fourth runner up).
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