There’s officially a new Miss America – and she’s a 21-year-old art major from Arkansas called Savvy Shields.
Taking the crown from last year’s Miss America Betty Cantrell, Shields won the prize in a politically-charged contest, finding herself and the other contestants quizzed on the this year’s US presidential election race.
Shields faced a tough question about Hillary Clinton from celebrity judge Gabby Douglas, and her safe response helped her navigate away from political controversy and steer herself to victory.
Douglas asked: “Hillary Rodham Clinton. What do you think?”
After nervous laughter, Shields replied: “If you’re trying to be leader of the free world, everything you say and do matters, and all of your actions are held to a higher standard.
“And unfortunately, the media does love to sensationalise everything, and it’s hard to tell what is truth and what is truly scandal… both of these candidates have done a great job in competing.”
Watch Savvy Shields’ Miss America victory speech:
— Savvy Shields (@MissAmerica) September 12, 2016
Later at her post-victory press conference, Shields said that she wanted “both candidates to focus on compromise”.
Considering the Miss America pageant was once owned by Trump, that’s a fairly safe way to work around that powder keg of a question.
This year’s Miss America also made history by featuring the first ever lesbian contestant: Erin O’Flaherty from Missouri.
For O’Flaherty, this is no biggie. “I think other people tend to focus on it, but it is one small part of who I am and the work that I do. It is just as important for people to realise I am not one dimensional,” she told The New York Times.
Debate raged on social media about the validity of having a swimsuit round in 2016.
— Laura Houk (@LauraHouk10) September 12, 2016
It doesn’t look like this will be going anywhere soon.
Prior to this year’s competition, Miss America vice chairman Sam Haskell told ET that the feature is there to stay.
“I don’t think Miss America will ever do away with the swimsuit competition,” he said. “It’s something that we love to show – how physically fit our contestants are. It’s part of the tradition of the organisation.”