Who is the New Miss America? (And Why She’s Happy She Didn’t Have to Wear a Swimsuit)

The 92nd Miss America pageant was unlike any other we have ever seen as it marked the first year the women did not wear swimsuits during the competition.

On Sept. 9, 2018, 51 contestants gathered at the Jim Whelan Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, New Jersey, in hopes of being crowned Miss America. In the end judges Laila Ali, Randy Jackson, Jessie James Decker, Bobby Bones, Soledad O’Brien, and Alli Webb chose Miss New York, Nia Franklin, as the winner.

Miss America 2019 Nia Imani Franklin

Miss America 2019 Nia Imani Franklin | News4U via YouTube

The year’s contest had been dubbed “Miss America 2.0” for the decision to ditch the swimsuit portion and sparked a lot of debate in the days leading up to the pageant. Following her victory, Franklin was asked how she felt about the changes to the contest and not having to wear a swimsuit. She had an interesting response about why she was glad to see that portion go but not everyone is thrilled about it.

Here’s more on that, plus a few interesting facts to know about the new Miss America.

In June, Chair Gretchen Carlson told Good Morning America that the swimsuit competition would be a thing of the past saying, “We will no longer judge our candidates on their outward physical appearance. That means we will no longer have a swimsuit competition.”

So when Miss America 2.0 aired, the swimsuit portion was replaced with what was called the red competition and many social media users who tuned in were not impressed.

“Red Carpet competition??? … I cannot get on board with this Miss America 2.0 thing,” a puzzled user tweeted.

“This ‘red carpet’ format is boring and not elegant at all,” shared another.

“Red carpet competition??? This is why Miss America will not be a thing in ten years. Is it called evening gown Gretchen,” one person wrote.

“Time to move to Miss America 3.0 because 2.0 is a trainwreck,” someone else tweeted.

Minutes before the actual pageant began a comedian who reminded the crowd that there would be no swimsuit competition was met with loud boos. But there were also some who are glad that it’s gone including the woman who took the crown. Franklin told reporters that not having to wear a swimsuit allowed her to eat a little more and she spoke about how positive she believes the change is.

“These changes, I think, will be great for our organization,” she said. “I’ve already seen so many young women reaching out to me personally as Miss New York asking how they can get involved because I think they feel more empowered that they don’t have to do things such as walk in a swimsuit for a scholarship. And I’m happy that I didn’t have to do so to win this title tonight because I’m more than just that. And all these women onstage are more than just that.”

Although she won the title as Miss New York Franklin is actually from Winston-Salem, North Carolina. She is a trained vocalist and studied music composition at East Carolina University before earning her master’s degree from UNC School of the Arts. During the talent portion, she wowed the crowd and judges with an operatic selection from La Boheme. Franklin’s pageant platform is “advocating for the arts.”

The 24-year-old is also a passionate advocate for cancer research. The cause is very close to her heart as her father was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma several years back. After undergoing treatment, his cancer returned twice. He had a stem cell transplant in 2013 and was on hand to see his daughter crowned as Miss America 2019.