Miss Georgia, Betty Cantrell, was crowned Miss America 2016 the night of September 13 at the birthplace of the legendary competition in Atlantic City’s Boardwalk Hall for its 95th Anniversary broadcast on the ABC Television Network. Vanessa Williams returned to the Miss America stage after 32 years since her crowning as Miss America 1984 and served as Head Judge. Williams opened the show with a performance of “Oh How the Years Go By.” Williams joined host Chris Harrison, co-host Brooke Burke-Charvet, music curator Nick Jonas and celebrity judges Brett Eldredge, Taya Kyle, Danica McKellar, Kevin O’Leary, Amy Purdy and Zendaya.

Miss America 2016 Betty Cantrell crowned by Miss America 2015 Kira Kazantsev (Photo by Donald Kravitz/Getty Images for dcp)

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.

Vanessa Williams performs onstage during the 2016 Miss America Competition (Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images for dcp)

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.

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