Georgia crowned Miss America as Vanessa Williams gets apology
ATLANTIC CITY – Georgia contestant Betty Cantrell was crowned 2016 Miss America on Sunday in a pageant that was overshadowed by events from three decades ago.
Singer, actress and former Miss America Vanessa Williams received a public apology from the pageant organisation that famously ordered her to give up her crown amid a nude photo scandal in 1984.
“I want to apologise for anything that was said or done that made you feel any less than the Miss America you are and the Miss America you always will be,” said Sam Haskell, CEO of the Miss America Organisation.
Williams, the first African American woman to wear the crown, has maintained that the photos published by Penthouse Magazine in 1984 were unauthorised. Williams served as the pageant’s chief judge during its 95th anniversary on Sunday in Atlantic City.
Sunday’s pageant came as it struggles to maintain its relevance after it was dropped by ABC in 2004 following a steep ratings decline. It returned to ABC in 2011 after years on cable television, but its ratings have remained below what they were in 2004.
Cantrell was crowned to the song Miss America, the first time the song has been played at the pageant since 2012 amid a licensing dispute with the estate of the song’s author.
The new winner will inherit a lifestyle that could see her log 20 000 miles of travel per month. Kira Kazantsev, the 2015 winner from New York, said she can make as many as nine appearances on behalf of a charity per day. (Reuters)