Miss America winner Nia Imani Franklin is glad she didn’t have to wear a swimsuit for the competition.
“I’m happy that I didn’t have to do so to win this title tonight because I’m more than just that,” Franklin told the Associated Press after her victory on Sunday. “And all these women onstage are more than just that.”
Franklin competed as Miss New York and was crowned Miss America 2019 at the organization’s annual pageant in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Winning a $50,000 scholarship, Franklin takes over the crown from Miss America 2018 Cara Mund.
“These changes, I think, will be great for our organization,” Franklin continued. “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.”
Miss America chair Gretchen Carlson announced in June that the swimsuit competition would no longer be included in the pageant as it evolves with the times, especially in light of the recent Me Too movement.
The organization has endured a tumultuous few weeks, after Mund accused Carlson in August of silencing and bullying her during her one-year tenure as Miss America. More than 20 former Miss America winners have since called for the organization’s entire board, including Carlson, to resign. Carlson denied all of Mund’s accusations.
In a recent interview with HuffPost, Mund said she hopes the next Miss America will have a very different experience than she did.
“The whole reason for this past year and everything that’s happened to me is so that I can make it better for the next girl. I have about two and a half weeks left, but she’s going to have a whole year,” Mund said. “I just don’t want the next girl to have the same kind of experience that I’ve had, and if for some reason her experience happens to be similar, at least now she knows that she’s supported and that her voice does matter.”