Georgia contestant Betty Cantrell crowned 2016 Miss America

September 14, 2015

Georgia contestant Betty Cantrell was crowned 2016 Miss America on Sunday (Sept 13) in a pageant that was overshadowed by events from three decades ago.

Miss Georgia

Singer, actress and former Miss America Vanessa Williams received a public apology from the pageant organization that famously ordered her to give up her crown amid a nude photo scandal in 1984.

“I want to apologize 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 Organization.

vanessa williams

Williams, the first African American woman to wear the crown, has maintained that the photos published by Penthouse Magazine in 1984 were unauthorized. Williams served as the pageant’s chief judge during its 95th anniversary on Sunday in Atlantic City.

Last year, comedian John Oliver used a segment of his show Last Week Tonight to lambaste the Miss America Organization over its claim that it had provided $45 million in scholarships.

As it turned out, the organization was counting scholarship offers made to contestants, not those that the contestants actually accepted, a discrepancy that inflated the totals. This year, officials are out with a new figure, saying the pageant awards $5.5 million in scholarships.


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