ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. — Miss New York, Nina Davuluri, was crowned Miss America before an enthusiastic crowd at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City Sunday night, earning a crown and at least $50,000 in scholarships.
Wearing a bold yellow gown, she gasped as she was crowned and took the traditional walk down the 115-foot runway.
She is the second Miss New York in a row to win the title, succeeding Mallory Hagan, Miss America 2013.
The 24-year-old Davaluri is the first contestant of Indian heritage to become Miss America.
Davaluri got emotional when talking about the win at a press conference after the pageant.
“I'm so happy this organization has embraced diversity,” she said in her first press conference after winning the crown in Atlantic City, N.J.'s Boardwalk Hall. “I'm thankful there are children watching at home who can finally relate to a new Miss America.”
Her pageant platform was “celebrating diversity through cultural competency.”
The native of Syracuse, N.Y. wants to be a doctor, and is applying to medical school, with the help of a $50,000 scholarship she won as part of the pageant title.
She had planned to go to the scene of a devastating boardwalk fire in the New Jersey communities of Seaside Park and Seaside Heights this afternoon. But pageant officials canceled that visit after learning that Gov. Chris Christie was making Cabinet officials available at that same time to business owners victimized by the fire.
Davuluri will visit at an unscheduled future date, pageant officials said early today.
She will still make the traditional frolic in the Atlantic City surf this morning.
The first runner-up was Miss California, Crystal Lee. Miss Oklahoma, Kelsey Griswold, was second runner-up.
Davuluri performed a Bollywood Fusion Dance during the talent portion of the competition. Her platform is Celebrating Diversity Through Cultural Competency.
During the on-stage interview, she was asked about Asian women who get plastic surgery to modify their eyes. She said she does not believe in it and would encourage woman to believe in who they are.
After months of anticipation and two weeks of rehearsals and preliminary competition, the much-anticipated competition finals returned to Boardwalk Hall for the first time since 2004.
Miss Kansas, Theresa Vail, a sergeant in the Army National Guard, was named the America's Choice finalist based on online voting.
Miss Florida Myrrhanda Jones performed in a glittery leg brace after tearing ligaments during rehearsals. She was crowd favorite, and host Chris Harrison was booed after he cut her off when she went long during the on-stage interview question.
Fifty-three women competed for the crown. Most left crownless, but each receives at least $3,000 in scholarship funds as a state title-holder.
The 87th Miss America also becomes an official spokeswoman for Atlantic City, where the pageant began in 1921. She will help promote the city in appearances and interviews.
In the run-up to the pageant, much attention was given to Vail, the Army sergeant who was believed to have been the first Miss America contestant to openly display tattoos. She has the Serenity Prayer on her rib cage and a military insignia on the back of one shoulder.
This report includes material from the Associated Press.