Nothing in life is certain except death, taxes … and the annual Miss America pageant! The Miss America 2017 ceremony on Sunday, September 11 — filled with the flashy, hyperfeminine glamour and old-fashioned beauty pageantry we’ve come to expect and enjoy — went off without a hitch. Well, almost!
Meet the Judges
The night leading up to Miss Arkansas Savvy Shields' ceremonial crowning was filled with pearly white smiles, glittery gowns and an army of tiny waistlines. The competition, hosted by The Bachelor’s Chris Harrison (naturally), started off with the introduction of this year's judges: Olympian Gabby Douglas, Ciara, Cole Swindell, Sara Foster, Laura Marano, Miss America 1985 Sharlene Wells Hawkes and the one and only Mark Cuban. When host Sage Steele asked Douglas what she thought the hardest part of tonight’s competition was, the gold-medalist responded, “Balancing in heels.” She would know!
The evening started with 37 contestants getting cut, including internet favorite Miss Missouri, a.k.a. Erin O’Flaherty, the first openly gay contestant ever to grace the Miss America stage.
A Swimsuit Competition by Any Other Name …
Next came the swimsuit portion of the competition, cleverly rebranded as “Fitness and Swimsuit.” We’re still not sure what fitness has to do with wearing heels and bikinis, but the women rocked it nonetheless! When asked if she agreed with the swimsuit portion accounting for 10 percent of the overall score, Barely Famous star Foster awkwardly responded, “I think that that’s fair. I think that that’s the right amount.” Good to know that having your body fit into a specific beauty mold only counts for 10 percent — that's progress, right?
Next came the evening gown portion. Our newly crowned Miss America, Savvy Shields of Arkansas, said of her black dress, “My evening gown is my favorite dress I’ve ever worn in my life. It’s black, but I still want to wear it if I get married one day.” Do we have a goth Miss America in our midst?
Then Miss Tennessee Grace Burgess managed to miss the mark on what makes Amal Clooney a remarkable female role model by only complimenting her superficial qualities, saying, "Amal Clooney is my idol. I love everything that she wears — especially her wedding wardrobe."
In a tribute to the 15th anniversary of the September 11 attacks, the reigning Miss America, Betty Cantrell, sang her rendition of Katy Perry’s "Rise" in front of a montage of flags and burning candles.
Make Miss America Great Again
The talent portion came next and did not disappoint. The audience was treated to baton twirling, tap dancing and lots and lots of excellent singing voices — maybe they should change the name to "Miss American Idol." Miss Maryland Hannah Brewer sang a stirring rendition of "God Bless America" but managed to bungle the lyrics, something that caught the attention of the Twitterverse right away. Our newly crowned Miss America, the blonde, blue-eyed Shields, treated viewers to a dance number and said, “I wanna be a backup dancer for Beyoncé!”
Lastly, when it came time for the questions portion of the night, our new Miss America seemed to have a puzzling answer. When asked what she thought of Hillary Clinton, Shields responded: “If you’re trying to be leader of the free world, everything you do and say matters. … It’s hard to tell what is truth and what is truly scandal, but both of these candidates have done a great job.” A fan of Donald Trump and Clinton? Savvy, indeed!
Tell Us: Did the right person win?
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