How Miss America Is Rewriting The Rules Of Competition (2024)

When a storied brand like Miss America reimagined the status quo, eyebrows furrowed and hands raised asking–why? Because it’s time. One hundred years of pageantry encompasses a proud history, but there’s so much more to explore and unpack than who designed the candidates’ evening dresses. These are women who have spent years making it to the grand stage. Their confidence is beautiful and their leadership and ambitious pursuits break barriers beyond the normal. They are the embodiment of role models we want for our younger generation.

Miss America is no longer a pageant, it’s a scholarship competition. A great emphasis has been placed on sharing a more accurate portrayal of women (the swimsuit competition was eliminated in 2018 - as well as all judging on physical appearance), and the leadership and social impact initiatives the state candidates champion, including STEM, body positivity, gender equity, entrepreneurship and female empowerment.

Miss America 2022 is Emma Broyles, Miss Alaska, the first Korean-American woman to hold the title, also a first for her home state. She was awarded a record $100,000 in scholarships to assist in her pursuit of a biomedical sciences degree at the Honors College at Arizona State University. “I’ll be heading to medical school after I graduate, and I was going to have to choose based on cost. I’ve always had to work two jobs to pay for college; This is a life-changing amount of money,” she shared via Zoom.

Broyles will spend the year traveling and sharing her social platform – Community through the Special Olympics. Her drive to raise awareness for this cause comes from her heart, her older brother has Down syndrome. “It was also really amazing to be able to speak about my struggles with ADHD. I felt quite vulnerable. I asked myself, ‘Is this something I should say on stage with hundreds of thousands of people watching?’” And she did, making Miss America that much more relatable and real.


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As a special surprise, three female founders from FoundedByHer joined the Zoom call. When they asked for Broyles’ advice, she acknowledged that female entrepreneurs do not get nearly enough recognition, and told them, “Maintain a sense of open-mindedness, be empathetic and compassionate, and be open to the stories of others.” She added, “It’s incredibly important to have diverse backgrounds and opinions and especially in the workplace, because that’s how we’re going to move forward as a society.”

Scholarships Fuel Equitable Paths

Collectively, the 51 candidates received a historic $435,500 in scholarship assistance during the 100th anniversary competition week. The Miss America Organization (MAO) awards over $5 million in scholarships a year at the local, state and national program levels in total. From broadcast journalism, medicine to law or public policy, there is no field they don’t intend to crush. Here’s how they plan to close the gender gap:

“Education is the bridge to equity, and as a first-generation Indian American woman, it is my education and professional background that allows me to break glass ceilings everyday. These scholarships have supported me to turn my passion for business and diversity and inclusion into advocacy for real change in my community.” said Sapna Raghavan, Miss Connecticut, who is pursuing a graduate degree in public policy.

“Without the degree, interview skills, and the scholarships that the MAO provided me, I never would have landed a job in the number four TV market right out of college. I can now work towards obtaining a master's in broadcast journalism to one day educate the next generation of newscasters,” said Alyssa Sullivan, Miss New Jersey.

Karson Pennington, Miss Georgia shared, “One day I'll be Dr. Pennington because of the $20,000 plus I've earned from competing in the MAO. I hope to become a collegiate professor, publish my research on the judiciary level, and inspire other young women to use their voice in politics.”

The Sisterhood of Healthy Competition

While some may imagine the behind-the-scenes environment to be tense and nerve-inducing, the candidates shared how they’ve built relationships that will last long after they’ve walked off stage.

"I've had friends ask what the atmosphere is really like during the competition and I've found the following quote to be quite accurate: ‘One woman's success is not your failure.’ In a room full of future doctors, lawyers, secretaries of state, educators, and business owners, it's easy to see how each Miss America candidate is highly motivated and extremely accomplished. But what's so incredible is that behind each extensive resume, there is a compassionate, thoughtful, and sincere servant leader,” said Alyssa Slohn, Miss Maryland.

Courtney Choy, Miss Hawaii, shared how their roots will grow: “On the island of Oʻahu in Hawaiʻi, a legacy tree was planted for each one of my competition sisters. To me, these trees not only reflect my state's commitment to reforestation and environmental stewardship - they also reflect the bond that I want to have with our class forever.”

What You Can Expect To See From Miss America in 2022

In December, the great reimagination of Miss America took shape and returned in a new and enhanced format on NBCU’s streaming service, Peaco*ck, giving viewers the opportunity to see the event live across all time zones. To learn more, I spoke with Shenan Reed, MAO board member and head of media at L'Oréal USA, who shared why she’s excited for what’s to come. “This is an organization that helps women from all over the country build networks and skills not easily learned in other places. It’s also providing a platform for them to create impact for their social initiatives and be role models for the next generation.”

Said Shantel Krebs, interim president and CEO of MAO, “Miss America has taken the lead and rewritten the rules of competition, and we’ve received such amazing support from Verizon, LinkedIn and Stacy’s Pita Chips. We welcome other like-minded organizations to get involved and support the evolution of this iconic brand.”

This is how we move closer to gender equity – by rewriting the rules and reimagining the way things have always been done. When we foster healthy competition we build lifelong bonds and provide role models for the next generation. If you can see her, you can be her.

How Miss America Is Rewriting The Rules Of Competition (2024)


What are the rules for Miss America judging? ›

Originating in 1921 as a "bathing beauty revue", the contest is judged on competition segments with scoring percentages: Private Interview (30%) – a 10-minute press conference-style interview with a panel of judges, On Stage Question (10%) – answering a judge's question onstage, Talent or HER Story (20%) – a ...

Can Miss USA have tattoos? ›

One notable rule is that contestants cannot be married, while divorced individuals are eligible to compete. Tattoos are allowed, but they must be covered if visible.

What is the age limit for Miss America? ›

Miss America 2024 was the 96th installment of the pageant, but the 102nd Miss America anniversary. For the 2024 competition, the age limits to compete were raised to between 18 and 28.

What happened to the Miss America pageant? ›

The Board of Trustees of the Miss America Organization announced today groundbreaking changes for the “The 2019 Miss America Competition,” effective this September, by declaring that the 51 women representing their home states and the District of Columbia will no longer be judged on outward physical appearance.

What is the rule 7 for Miss America? ›

Instituted under the directorship of Lenora Slaughter, rule number seven stated that "contestants must be of good health and of the white race." As late as 1940, all contestants were required to list, on their formal biological data sheet, how far back they could trace their ancestry.

Can Miss America have a child? ›

Stanke told Insider she stands by the rule that contestants can't be married or have children. "We spend a lot of time on the road," she said. "It's a very rigorous position."

Is there a weight limit for Miss USA? ›

No. There are no required height, weight or specific measurements that qualify you to compete. The selection committee is looking for good physical health and personality.

What is Miss USA's salary? ›

What are Top 10 Highest Paying Cities for Miss Usa Jobs
CityAnnual SalaryMonthly Pay
Santa Monica, CA$41,647$3,470
Palo Alto, CA$41,162$3,430
Daly City, CA$41,039$3,419
Bailey's Crossroads, VA$41,011$3,417
6 more rows

Can Miss USA have plastic surgery? ›

In the end, plastic surgery's official place in the world of beauty pageants is entirely up to its judges. Most judges do not disclose their criteria and often decide on their own personal ideas of what makes a proper beauty queen, with or without the use of plastic surgery.

Who is the youngest Miss America? ›

Teresa Michelle Scanlan (born February 6, 1993) is an American attorney and beauty pageant titleholder from Gering, Nebraska who was named Miss Nebraska 2010, subsequently winning Miss America 2011 at age 17 and becoming the youngest Miss America since Bette Cooper in 1937.

Does Miss America get paid? ›

Unlike other pageants, Miss America doesn't offer cash prizes, TV contracts, or modeling deals; instead, it exclusively awards scholarships to empower women in their academic and professional endeavors.

Who is Miss America 2024 boyfriend? ›

Madison recently took to her official social media accounts to share the joyful news of her engagement to her longtime partner, Walker Morris. The announcement comes hot on the heels of Madison's groundbreaking victory at the Miss America 2024 finals in Orlando, Florida.

What is the Miss America scandal? ›

The documentary centered on the alleged cheating scandal of 2022, but it also made more explosive claims. Former contestants featured in the documentary claimed Max Sebrechts, at the time vice president of Miss USA and married to Stewart, sexually harassed them. Sebrechts stepped down shortly after the news broke.

Why did Miss USA give up her crown? ›

Teen and Miss USA quit their crowns, citing mental health and personal values.

Why did Miss USA 2024 resign? ›

Eight months following her Miss USA crowning, Voigt announced in a May 6 Instagram post that she was relinquishing her pageant title to preserve her mental health. "Never could I have imagined the journey that my childhood dream would take me on," Voigt said in a lengthy statement.

What are Miss America contestants judged on? ›

The judges are looking for: overall first impression, qualities and attributes of Miss America, positive role model, knowledge and understanding of CSI, ability to fulfill job responsibilities, confident and commanding presence, personality, appearance and attractiveness, validated opinions and responses, ability to ...

What do Miss USA judges look for? ›

The judges are looking for the young ladies to represent California throughout the state, as well as nationally and internationally. The contestant who wins may not have scored the highest in any one particular category but will do well in all events.

What is the usual criteria for judging in pageant? ›

While it's not the only criterion, physical appearance often plays a significant role. This includes not only natural beauty but also grooming, fitness, and overall presentation. Contestants are usually judged on how well they present themselves in terms of style, elegance, and poise.

What is the judging criteria for Miss Universe? ›

Contestants are judged in three categories: evening gown, swimsuit, and a personality interview. There is no talent competition.

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