Nia Imani Franklin, the 23-year-old Miss New York, won the title of Miss America 2019 — which comes with $50,000 in college scholarships — on Sunday night at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, NJ.
The 2017 titleholder, Cara Mund, who stirred serious controversy in the pageant world after publicly accusing Miss America organization leadership of “silencing” and “bullying” her during her reign, got a standing ovation from the live audience as she took her final walk in a gorgeous emerald Sherri Hill gown. She then crowned Franklin, who took the traditional first walk in a white gown.
With her performance of opera vocals, Franklin wowed the crowd, which was studded with girls and teens in crowns and sashes to represent local pageants and Miss America’s Outstanding Teen states. During the final question-and-answer portion, she responded “New York gusto” to judge Laila Ali’s question about how being from the state (and city) had prepared her for the job of Miss America.
The first runner-up was Miss Connecticut, Bridget Mary Oei, who won $25,000 in scholarships after bringing the audience to its feet with a rousing Irish step-dance number for the evening’s talent portion. The second runner-up was Miss Louisiana Holli’ Conway — a clear audience favorite throughout the evening — who won $20,000 in scholarships.