Miss Georgia, Betty Cantrell, was crowned Miss America 2016 tonight at the birthplace of the legendary competition in Atlantic City’s Boardwalk Hall for its 95th Anniversary broadcast on the ABC Television Network.
Cantrell’s acceptance of the highly-prized crown is just the beginning of a journey that will take her to every corner of the nation during her year of service as Miss America 2016. She will embark on her national speaking tour about her platform, Healthy Children, Strong America, and act as the official National Goodwill Ambassador for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, a non-profit organization dedicated to saving and improving the lives of children by raising funds for children’s hospitals, is the national platform partner of the Miss America Organization.
Cantrell is a student of Mercer University. During her year as Miss America, she will serve as spokesperson for Healthy Children, Strong America. Along with the coveted title of Miss America 2016, Cantrell won a $50,000 scholarship provided in part by Joseph Ribkoff Inc. and the Miss America Organization to continue her education. For the talent portion of the competition, Cantrell performed the operatic vocal performance of “Tu Tu Piccolo Iddio.”
First runner-up in the competition was Miss Mississippi, Hannah Roberts, who earned a $25,000 scholarship. Her talent was classical violin, and her personal platform is Pages of Love. Second runner-up honors and a $20,000 scholarship was awarded to Miss Colorado, Kelley Johnson. Her talent was original monologue, and her personal platform is The Health Initiative PLUS.
The 52 contestants, who represented all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, participated in preliminary competitions earlier in the week. Miss Tennessee, Hannah Robison, was the winner of “America’s Choice,” an online competition where viewers were given the first time opportunity to vote for their favorite Miss America contestant entirely on social media. The winner of “America’s Choice” advanced to the Top 15 in the competition.
Founded in 1921, the Miss America Organization is one of the nation’s leading advocates for women’s education and the largest provider of scholarship assistance to young women. The Miss America Organization and its 52 state organizations award millions in cash and in-kind scholarships annually. The Miss America Organization also provides young women with a vehicle to further their personal and professional goals and instills within them a spirit of community service through a variety of nationwide community-based programs.
Cantrell surely impressed the Miss America judges, as well as the audience in person and at home when she performed a song from the “Madame Butterfly” with a beautiful operatic voice.
Celebrity judge Brett Eldredge (a country music star) asked Cantrell a tough question about whether or not she thought New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady cheated by deflating footballs during games last season (a scandal also known as Deflategate). Cantrell had to ask Eldredge to repeat the question and gave her best answer to what was admittedly a controversial question.
Finally, the big moment came, as Cantrell was one of three women standing on-stage waiting to learn whether they would become Miss America. (The other two ladies were Miss South Carolina and Miss Oklahoma.)
Cantrell was announced as the 2015 Miss America, much to her delight as Jason DeRulo’s “Want to Want Me” played. Betty was crowned and given a bouquet of flowers to carry as she walked down the front of the stage to the traditional strains of the song “Here she is, Miss America…”
Watch Miss America talk after the event and see what the judges had to say about her.