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Miss America pageant created to boost tourism

  • JAMM AQUINO / JAQUINO@STARADVERTISER.COM

    Miss Kakaako Kathryn Teruya touches her crown after being announced as Miss Hawaii 2017 on June 10 at Hawaii Theatre.

Kathryn Teruya of Honolulu is representing Hawaii as one of 51 contestants in the 97th Miss America pageant in Atlantic City, N.J.

Three days of preliminaries have led up to the nationally televised finale, to be shown in Hawaii at 8 p.m. today on a delayed basis on ABC.

Here are some things to know about the Miss America pageant:

HISTORY

The pageant was established by Atlantic City in 1921 as a way to extend the summer tourism season to the weekend after Labor Day. Margaret Gorman, of Washington, D.C., was the first Miss America.

In 1943, Jean Bartel was crowned Miss America in Atlantic City. In the ensuing year, she raised $2.5 million selling Series E war bonds (which would have been worth over $34 million in today’s dollars), more than any other private individual in the United States.

In 1954, Lee Meriwether became the first Miss America to be crowned on live television.

Miss America 1959 Mary Ann Mobley and Miss America 1960 Lynda Lee Mead were the first back-to-back Miss Americas from the same state, Mississippi.

In 1983, Vanessa Williams became the first African-American Miss America, but had to relinquish her title 10 months later after nude photos of her emerged that were taken before she won the title. She was welcomed back to the Miss America fold in 2015 with a nationally televised apology from current pageant officials over how the situation was handled.

The pageant moved to Las Vegas for six years before returning to Atlantic City in 2013.

MONEY

The top winner will receive $50,000 in scholarship money. The Miss America Organization says it will hand out $302,000 in scholarship funds this year.

HOSTS AND CELEBRITY JUDGES

Chris Harrison (“The Bachelor” and “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire”) and Sage Steele (ESPN’s “SportsCenter on the Road” and “SportsCenter: AM”) are hosting. The judges are TV/radio host and author Maria Menounos; former Miss America Nina Davuluri; country music star Thomas Rhett; author and actress Molly Sims; singer Jordin Sparks; People magazine Editor-in-Chief Jess Cagle; and Olympic champion figure skater Tara Lipinski.

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