Miss New York, Nina Davuluri, 24, became the first Indian-American contestant to win the Miss America pageant Sunday night.
Davuluri is also the second consecutive contestant from New York to win the pageant. Mallory Hagan won just eight months ago from the Big Apple.
“I’m so happy this organization has embraced diversity,” Davuluri stated during a press conference after winning the pageant. “I’m thankful there are children watching at home who can finally relate to a new Miss America,” she added.
Unfortunately, Davuluri has since been faced with criticism for winning the competition over her heritage and race. But she refuses to let the backlash get her down.
She says, “I have to rise above that. I always viewed myself as first and foremost American.”
The Syracuse, N.Y. native plans to become a doctor with the $50,000 scholarship she was awarded along with her new title.
Miss California, Crystal Lee, was first runner-up. Other finalists included Miss Minnesota, Rebecca Yeh, Miss Florida, Myrrhanda Jones, and Miss Oklahoma, Kelsey Griswold.
Miss Kansas, Teresa Vail, also gained recognition for being the first contestant to openly display tattoos.
Since the pageant’s move from Las Vegas back to its original home in Atlantic City, Magan Hagan’s reign for the title was cut short. The organization announced, however, she’ll be compensated for not finishing out the remaining four months for holding the title.