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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 September 2018

New Miss America happy swimsuit category was eliminated 

Nia Imani Franklin, who won the title on Sunday night in Atlantic City while competing as Miss New York, said the changes in the 98-year-old competition are a welcome modernisation

Miss New York Nia Franklin, centre, celebrates after being named Miss America 2019 AP 

The first woman to win the Miss America crown without having to don a swimsuit says she's glad she didn't have to.

Nia Imani Franklin, who won the title on Sunday night in Atlantic City while competing as Miss New York, said the changes in the 98-year-old competition are a welcome modernisation.

Meeting reporters soon after winning the crown, Franklin said she's glad there was no swimsuit competition.

"These changes, I think, will be great for our organisation," 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," Franklin said. "And all these women onstage are more than just that."

Her victory on Sunday night resurrected a string of successes the Empire State has had in the pageant in recent years. Mallory Hagan, Nina Davuluri and Kira Kazantsev won the title from 2013 to 2015 competing as Miss New York.

A classical vocalist whose pageant platform is "advocating for the arts," Franklin sang an operatic selection from the opera La Boheme on Sunday night.

She wrote her first song at age 5. It went "Love, love, love, love, is the only thing that matters to me, hey, hey, hey, hey, hey." At the prompting of a reporter, she sang the song at her post-victory press conference as audience members snapped their fingers.

Franklin won a $50,000 (Dh183,650) scholarship along with the crown in the first Miss America pageant to be held without a swimsuit competition.

She said during her onstage interview that she was one of only a small number of minority students in school growing up, but used her love for music and the arts to grow and fit in.

The fourth runner-up was Miss Massachusetts Gabriela Taveras; third runner-up was Miss Florida Taylor Tyson; second runner-up was Miss Louisiana Holli' Conway, and the first runner-up was Miss Connecticut Bridget Oei.

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