Miss America 2018 Contestants & Winner Predictions
The 2017 Miss America Pageant airs live tonight on ABC at 9 p.m. ET and the reigning Miss America Savvy Shields will crown a new winner. This year, Chris Harrison and Sage Steele are the hosts again, with a group of celebrities in the mix as judges. On the judges’ panel, the celebrities who are participating include Tara Lipinski, People editor in chief Jess Cagle, Molly Sims, Jordin Sparks, Thomas Rhett, Maria Menounos and 2014’s pageant winner Nina Davuluri. Now that you have a little background on the judges for tonight, check out each of the 51 contestants and winner predictions below in order of state.
Miss Alabama Jessica Procter
Procter is a woman of many accomplishments as a Quality of Life Award Winner and as Miss Alabama’s Outstanding Teen 2013. While Procter is a student at the University of Alabama, she is putting her studies of interdisciplinary studies and psychology on hold to fulfill her pageant duties. According to Alabama.com, her faith and her need to help others is strong and she insists:
Whether it is part-time or full-time or paid or volunteer, I want to be in a church working … leading worship or working in a youth ministry or both.
Miss Alaska Angelina Klapperich
Klapperich is not only Miss Alaska, as she previously won Miss Alaska’s Outstanding Teen 2010. Currently, Klapperich is studying psychology and she hopes to obtain a Masters degree in counseling.
Miss Arizona MaddieRose Holler
✨I fell asleep with a DREAM and woke up with a PURPOSE ✨ Last night, I was given the job of a lifetime @missamericaaz and I could not feel more humbled, grateful and lucky. Although that barely scratches the surface of the emotions I am filled with as I embark on this amAZing year of service with the @missazorg, I am just ever so thankful I was given this opportunity. I could not have gotten here without my #DreamTeam. Nicole and @nat.haliejoy, thank you for constantly pushing me and believing in me as I pursued this dream job. You are the very reason I get to live out my dream. To my family, friends and loved ones, thank you for constantly dealing with my crazy schedule, my many rehearsals and my constant talk of all things #MissArizona. Thank you especially to my mom @themamaglo who pushes me, empowers me and taught me if I want something in life I have to work for it. She steams my dresses, helps me prep for meals, goes to my rehearsals, stays up past midnight with my pageant shenanigans and loves me day in and day out, which is only a small fraction of what she has done for me in preparation of this job. Finally thank you to all of my sponsors who graciously gave their time, money and services to help me look and feel my best as I graced the Miss Arizona stage for a second year. I simply could not do it without you! With that, a congratulations is also due to my @maoteenaz @missglendaleot… Dimon, I am so proud to call you my sister. You are beautiful, intelligent, strong and are so deserving of this job. With that, MISS AMERICA HERE WE COME!!! ARIZONA IS READY TO BRING THE HEAT ❤️👊🏼🔥 // #MissAZ2017 #MissAmerica2018 #RoadtoMissA #DreamsDoComeTrue
Holler is Miss Arizona and Miss Peoria 2017. She was also previously Miss Arizona’s Outstanding Teen 2013. Holler is 19 years old and is studying Broadcast Journalism, while being an advocate for military families. Holler told Bravura Magazine:
Inspired by my father’s 20 years of service in the U.S. Navy and my brother’s active duty service, completing two tours in Iraq and one Western Pacific Deployment, I embraced my service platform Supporting Our Military and Their Families. With that, I wholeheartedly believe that “freedom is not free” should be more than just a catch-phrase—it should be a way of life. It is our collective duty as the American people to give back to our service members and their families.
When Holler was just 12 years old, her brother was also deployed to Iraq.
Miss Arkansas Maggie Benton
According to KATV, when Maggie Benton won the title of Miss Arkansas, she took home a $30,000 scholarship and over $75,000 in awards, clothing, transportation, and gifts. Benton also considers her faith to be very important in her life, writing this in her blog:
God is calling us to live without being scared of what’s around the corner. “Fight the sin that entangles” and run. Run toward good, and run toward Him, and run toward joy. Sometimes I get my feelings hurt. It will always feel easy to “sit down on the side of the road and quit”, but that’s not what races are all about. Sometimes I get selfish. It will always seem good to “laugh at the people sitting on the curb”, but that’s not what races are all about. Sometimes I get tired. It will always “be really difficult”, but running a race isn’t easy. One thing I know for sure (because God promised), is that we’re all here for a reason.
You can check out Benton’s blog by clicking here.
Miss California Jillian Smith
The Fresno Bee reports that Smith is one of seven granddaughters who have competed in Miss America pageants, but she is the only one to get at the level she is at right now. Smith recalled:
I actually got involved (in the Miss America Organization) because when I was 5 years old, I was here at the Saroyan Theatre watching my cousin participate in Miss California. I think they’re all just going to be super, super excited.
Currently, Smith studies broadcast journalism with a minor in music.
Miss Colorado Meredith Winnefeld
As a contestant in the 2018 Miss America competition, Winnefeld is also one of four finalists for the “Woman In Business” Scholarship. In an article for the Highlands Ranch Herald, Winnefeld described herself as this:
I’m 23 years old. I went to Arapahoe High School and graduated in 2012 and then went to Arizona State University for my four years of college. When I’m not working, I love to ski and play golf — those are my two favorite hobbies. I’m an only child and I have a poodle. I live in Highlands Ranch and I work in marketing and sales.
Winnefeld was actually born blind in her right eye.
Miss Connecticut Eliza Lynne Kanner
Kanner’s talent is operatic vocals and when she competed in the Miss Connecticut pageant, she performed the song “Memory” from the musical, Cats. When Kanner picked up the win for Miss Connecticut, she told CT Fashion Mag:
While serving as Miss Connecticut, I will also be the co-executive director for Huskython (at the University of Connecticut), which is our 18-hour dance marathon – we’re on goal to raising $1 million for the Connecticut Children’s Medical Center.
Kanner is 21 years old.
Miss Delaware Chelsea Bruce
Bruce’s motto, which is a quote written on her Instagram profile, reads, “Hope is the belief that destiny will not be written for us, but by us.” Bruce currently has a boyfriend who she has been dating for about three years and she is not shy about posting photos with him online.
Miss District of Columbia Briana Kinsey
The Hoover Sun reports Kinsey gushing over the opportunity to compete for the title of Miss America. Kinsey stated:
It’s very weird. You’ve always heard about it, and you’ve always dreamed about it, but it’s one of those things you never believed it would happen to you. It’s all kind of a little surreal, but I think it’s a huge accomplishment. I worked really hard, so I’m very excited. I’m just thrilled for the opportunity to be able to represent the district at the Miss America Pageant.
In addition to competing in the Miss America pageant, Kinsey is also a Quality of Life Award Finalist and STEM Scholarship Finalist.
Miss Florida Sara Zeng
According to Zeng’s Miss America Pageant bio, she specializes in classical piano and her platform is Music Matters! She hopes to one day play the piano for a big music artist like Beyonce. She says that one of her biggest accomplishments in life was this, “I was able to help keep music alive by obtaining a donation for musical instruments to a Title 1 school in Florida. This allowed economically-disadvantaged youth access to the many benefits of a music education.”
In an interview with the Ledger-Enquirer, Beasley said that she would have never believed she would be a pageant winner when she was growing up. She explained:
If someone had said a couple of years ago that I would one day be wearing this crown, that I would be Miss Georgia, I would have thought they were kidding.
Beasley has a great passion for the arts, especially for dance.
Miss Hawaii Kathryn Teruya
Currently, Teruya is studying biology at the University of Hawaii. Previously, she was the winner of the Miss Teen USA Fan Vote, which earned her a spot in the Top 16. She was also Miss Hawaii Teen USA in 2012 and her sister, Lauren, was Miss Hawaii Teen USA 2017.
Miss Idaho Taylor Lance
In an interview with Bravura Magazine, Lance talked about her involvement with the Miss America Organization and she said:
There is something magical that happens when you discover your true identity, and the Miss America Organization has challenged me to do just that. Many times in our lives we have the tendency to shift towards comparison or making ourselves into something we are not. Despite what pageant stereotypes exist, finding success in this organization has required that I be 100 percent Taylor. When you can show the world who you are you can create a place for others to do the same. It is a special spot of vulnerability where we all tend to shine the brightest and become relatable. If you choose to step out in confidence, we can create lasting change and authentic difference makers.
Lance’s platform is “Becoming the Solution: An Adult’s Role in Childhood Obesity Prevention”.
Miss Illinois Abby Foster
Abby Foster is actually an NFL cheerleader for the Indianapolis Colts and she told the News Gazette that, “I am a Delta Zeta, I am the 90th Miss Illinois and I’m a rookie on the Indianapolis Colts cheer team.” She quotes her best advice as this:
“If you are offered a seat on a rocket ship, don’t ask what seat, just get on.” This is one of my favorite quotes, and I think it just really means if you are given an opportunity, run with it and make the best of every situation.
Miss Indiana Haley Begay
Begay suffers from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and Miss America Organization bio reads:
As a preteen, I was always anxious and I thought I would always be the nervous girl in class with OCD. When watched Miss America for the first time in 2011, I saw that Teresa Scanlan was only 17 when she was crowned. I decided to distract my OCD by striving to become a titleholder at an early age, just like Teresa.
Begay’s platform is to help children who suffer from domestic abuse.
Miss Iowa Chelsea Dubczak
According to the QC Times, Chelsea Dubczak’s goals in life include being a nutritional therapy practitioner, a strength and conditioning coach, and a cruise ship entertainer. The Press of Atlantic City reports that Dubczak’s talent is opera singing.
Miss Kansas Krystian Fish
Krystian Fish has won many awards throughout her pageant experiences. Fish has been The Arc of Sedgwick County Young Volunteer of the Year, a Circle of Friends Spirit of the Circle Award Recipient, an Arc’s Excellence Award Recipient, a Miss Kansas 2017 Quality of Life Winner, and an International Soroptomist Volunteer of the Year Scholarship Recipient. Fish is the oldest of six siblings in her family and, she is actually a comic book character in “Kid Power.” According to The Wichita Eagle, Fish says:
My goal in Miss America is to show people what Kansas girls can do. Sometimes they think we’re a flyover state, but we’re a force to be reckoned with – us Kansas girls know that, and it’s time the rest of the world knew that.
Fish also says that she doesn’t like labels and that she doesn’t consider herself to be “a pageant girl.”
Miss Kentucky Molly Matney
Molly Matney is a STEM Scholarship Finalist and according to the College Height Herald, George T. Reed, a member of the executive board of Miss Kentucky, called Matney, “wholesome, lovable, the girl you’d like to grow up next to, the woman you’d like your son to marry, a true pleasure.” Matney is new to the pageant world as she just began competing in 2015.
Miss Louisiana Laryssa Bonacquisti
Laryssa Bonacquisti is no stranger to the pageant world and her talent is ventriloquism. She is actually the daughter of Miss New Jersey 1990, Lynette Falls Bonacquisti. For her ventriloquist act, she often uses a yellow duck named Waddles. In an interview with the News Star, she says that she has, at times, thought of quitting pageants, but she says that she just can’t stay away. She explained:
There have been times in my life when I have thought ‘Oh, you know what? I’m not going to do this anymore.’ But I always come back because I realize how much of an impact it has on my life. Every time I step away from it, it’s more difficult. Sometimes it can be more difficult to find goals to set. In reality, the impact that this has on real life is so profound that it’s not walking on stage in a dress It’s not walking on stage in a swimsuit that makes it so real. It’s the impact that you can have on others.
Her platform is pancreatic cancer prevention because her grandmother died from the disease.
Miss Louisiana won the swimsuit competition for night 2 of the Miss America preliminary competitions.
Miss Maine Katie Elliott
Miss Maine Katie Elliott was previously Miss Maine’s Outstanding Teen 2012. In an interview with Bravura Magazine, Elliott talked about her road to the Miss America Pageant, explaining:
I first became involved in pageants during high school when I competed for Miss Maine’s Outstanding Teen. My first year I placed 2nd Runner-Up. I enjoyed the experience so much that I returned the following year and won! Participating in the Miss America Organization has taught me so much about myself and has given me an outlet to discuss topics I’m passionate about.
She is interested in politics, so her platform is FLAG: Female Leadership in American Government.
Miss Maryland Kathleen Masek
Kathleen Masek is a Women in Business Scholarship Finalist and she is also a Baltimore Ravens Playmaker. Masek’s platform issue is supporting military families. Her passion this stems from her personal experience and her Miss America Organization bio reads:
As a military child, it has always been vitally important for Kathleen to provide moral and emotional support to military families while also raising awareness for their needs. After moving eight times throughout her childhood, she understands the difficulties of re-establishing yourself in a new school and community. Kathleen has organized drives to collect and distribute new school supplies for military children as well as developed Operation Integrate, a peer facilitation program for educators and students to help them adjust to their new environments.
Miss Massachusetts Jillian Zucco
Zucco has been in a committed relationship with her boyfriend Zach for 6 years, so clearly, he supports her being in pageants. According to South Coast Today, last year, Zucco graduated magna cum laude from UMass Dartmouth and now she is a registered nurse. In competing for Miss America, Zucco has said:
It’s just so surreal. I am still in shock and it hasn’t really hit me yet that I’m going to Miss America.
Zucco is 24 years old and her talent is singing.
Miss Michigan Heather Kendrick
Heather Kendrick plays the fiddle for her talent as a Miss America contestant and she has degrees in music education and organizational studies. According to Detroit Free Press, Kendrick’s platform issue is Keeping the Arts in Education: Advocating STEAM. STEAM actually includes science, technology, engineering, the arts and mathematics.
Miss Minnesota Brianna Drevlow
In night 2 of the preliminary competitions, Miss Minnesota won for talent, which comes with a $2,000 scholarship. For her talent segment, she delivered a piano performance of George Gerswhin’s 1924 composition “Rhapsody in Blue”. Currently, she is a graduate student in music composition at the College of Musical Arts at Bowling Green State University, where she hopes to one day become dean, according to NJ.com.
Drevlow was also a Quality of Life Award Finalist.
Miss Mississippi Anne Elizabeth Buys
Anne Elizabeth Buys holds her faith very dear to her heart and has the following quote on her Instagram profile:
In Christ alone, my hope is found.
In taking on the 2018 Miss America Pageant, Buys had the following message for her supporters online:
I am embarking on a journey that I have been preparing for for my entire life. I am forever grateful for every person that has been a part of my journey. Thank you all!! I am thankful that the Lord has blessed me with this incredible opportunity.
Buys is presently a senior at Mississippi State University.
Miss Missouri Jennifer Davis
Davis was in her fifth year of competition when she finally won the title of Miss Missouri. Last year she came in as runner-up. The Mexico Ledger reports Davis reflecting over her journey to become Miss Missouri and saying:
It was all worth it. I feel so blessed and humble and I never gave up on my dream.
Davis’ platform is “United We Stand, Divided We Fall” – Diversity Matters”.
Miss Montana Maddie Murray
Madison Murray, more commonly called Maddie, is a singer and her platform is to put thoughts into action by helping others. She has even traveled to Nicaragua several times in order to help others in need. When it comes to being a part of the Miss America Organization, Murray says:
I’m so honored to be a part of an organization that emphasizes the importance of gifting your gift.
Her talent is vocals.
Miss Nebraska Allison Tietjen
Allison Tietjen is a STEM Scholarship Finalist and, in preparation for the Miss America competition, Tietjen wrote the following message to fans on her Instagram account:
Just living my best life here at Miss America! Words cannot describe this experience!! I feel so honored to represent the great state of Nebraska at the Miss America Competition! Thank you all for the love and support!
Tietjen was also previously Miss Heartland 2017 and her platform has been “United We Stand: Honoring Our Military”.
Miss Nevada Andrea Martinez
Martinez hails from Las Vegas and she is 23 years old. She is also a STEM Scholarship Finalist. On her Instagram profile, Martinez talks about her platform and why it is her passion. Martinez writes:
My platform P.A.C.T matters because it is relevant to what is happening in our country right now. Building relationships between communities and police officers will cause everyone to be in a safer position. By learning to understand, communicate and empathize with one another, police officers will be able to do their jobs more effectively and our voices will be heard because there is an open line of communication. Mutual respect is the main goal.
Throughout her life, Martinez has been very athletic as a runner.
Miss New Hampshire Lauren Percy
Previously, Percy was Miss New Hampshire’s Outstanding Teen 2011 and now she is in the running for Miss America. She loves that pageantry helps pay for education through scholarships and she says that being on the Miss America stage is a childhood dream of hers.
Miss New Jersey Kaitlyn Schoeffel
Miss New Jersey Kaitlyn Schoeffel was previously Miss New Jersey’s Outstanding Teen 2007 and, according to Press of Atlantic City, winning Miss New Jersey came with her fifth attempt to win the crown. Schoeffel admitted:
It took a lot to be able to come back (for a sixth year). But I think it goes to show that if you keep trying and strive for your dreams, then you can do it.
Schoeffel’s platform is is called “Operation Empowerment.”
Miss New Mexico Taylor Rey
With a photo of Rey in a tutu as a young girl, she posted the following caption on Instagram about her love of performing. Rey wrote:
How long have I loved performing? As long as I could walk. Here’s me before my first dance recital at 3 years old, ever since then I’ve known I loved being on stage and now 19 years later I’ve graduated with my degree in musical theater! I am so grateful that I get to live my life onstage, telling stories and connecting with the audience.
Rey is 22 years old and her talent is vocals.
Miss New York Gabrielle Walter
Currently, Gabrielle Walter is a third-year law student at the University of Buffalo School of Law. According to the Miss America Organization, Walter’s scholastic ambition is, “To obtain a law degree and practice at a firm in Manhattan with a focus in tax law and commercial litigation. I also plan to clerk for a federal court judge and obtain a Master of Law degree.” She hopes to one day argue a high-profile case in front of the Supreme Court. In addition, she is the creator and founder of an organization called DreamUp America.
Miss North Carolina Victoria Huggins
Huggins talked about her platform for the Miss America pageant on her Instagram account, writing:
As the only contestant representing Alzheimer’s families in the #missamerica Class of 2018, I am thrilled to carry the purple banner of awareness to educate and inspire more people on how we can help families when they receive this devastating diagnosis.
Huggins also took time to thank her parents for all their support. She gushed:
Mom and Dad, you have driven me to and from voice lessons and performances without complaint my entire life. You’re my biggest fans and challenge me to always aim bigger than what others may deem impossible. You are my heart and soul. OUR hard work and dreams were realized tonight. I love you 24 and am so proud to be your daughter.
Throughout her life, Huggins has had many accomplishments. She is a CMN Miracle Maker Award 1st runner-up, a former contestant on Star Search, and a singer from season 10 of American Idol.
Miss North Dakota Cara Mun
Mun is full of brains as well as beauty, having been accepted into law school at the University of Notre Dame. She is also a Quality of Life Award 1st runner-up and was previously Miss North Dakota’s Outstanding Teen 2010. Her talent is dancing.
Miss Ohio Sarah Clapper
Sarah Clapper is the Women in Business Scholarship Winner this year. Upon winning the award, she wrote the following message online:
So blessed and humbled to have received the Women in Business Scholarship Award in the amount of $5,000! With this award I am officially DEBT FREE from all of my undergraduate student loans! I am BEYOND thankful for the Miss America Organization for providing this amazing opportunity! The Miss America Women in Business scholarship awards are presented to two contestants enrolled with a declared major in the field of business or business related studies or who are pursuing or intending to pursue graduate studies in Business.
Clapper is 23 years old.
Miss Oklahoma Triana Browne
After singing during the preliminary competitions this week, Browne wrote a heartfelt message on her Instagram account, which reads:
What an incredible and emotional night. Almost everything that I had ever dreamed of as a child came true as I sang my heart out on that prelim stage in that red dress. While here at Miss America I’ve been reminded of my long hard journey. To go from this shy little girl who dreamed of performing but cared too much about what people thought of her to singing on the Miss America stage left me in tears by the end of the song. I gave my heart. I sang for my family, my mom, my little brother Gabriel, and most importantly for myself. I am so thankful for this experience and for the people I’ve met. Thank you.
She says she wants to be Miss America so that she can be a “sense of hope” for everyone.
Miss Oregon Harley Emery
Previously, Emery won Miss Oregon’s Outstanding Teen 2013. She is 20 years old and her talent is classical piano. The Miss America Organization has talked about her causes on their website and writes:
Her platform, “Intercultural Community-Building,” promotes constructive dialogue on immigration, refugees, and cultural competency, with the aim of de-politicizing groups of people and building relationships between individuals of different backgrounds.
Currently, Emery is majoring in International Studies and Journalism.
She has also been an intern for the U.S. State Department.
Miss Pennsylvania Katie Schreckengast
According to Penn Live, Katie Schreckengast was adopted from South Korea when she was just 6 months old and today she is a student at Penn State University. She began competing in pageants when she was only 13 years old and an uncle of hers is a longtime volunteer for the Miss America Organization.
Miss Rhode Island Nicolette Peloquin
Nicolette Peloquin’s talent is acrobatics and she is 21 years old. She believes that faith is important, as she writes on her Instagram account:
God is so good. Then again, God is ALWAYS good. Living the best version of this life that there is to offer.
Her choice of platform was inspired by the loss of her grandparents to cancer and she wrote the following message online:
My platform Be the Match is EXTREMELY personal. Having lost both my Nana and Papa to cancer and having a scare with Non Hodgkins Lymphoma myself, I knew I was kept healthy because I would be called to save a life.
Miss South Carolina Suzi Roberts
Suzi Roberts is Miss South Carolina. She is also the CMN Miracle Maker Award Winner this year and a Quality of Life Award 2nd runner-up. In the past, Roberts was an NFL cheerleader for the Atlanta Falcons and today, she is a student at the University of South Carolina School of Law. In a post on Instagram, Roberts talked about her passion for dance as well as for being a pageant winner. Roberts wrote:
My passion for dancing has led me on quite the journey throughout my lifetime- from moving away from home at the age of 12 to attend ballet school, competing on international stages, training with some of the most prestigious ballet companies in the world, to cheering on the (Super Bowl First Runner Up) Atlanta Falcons. The most important path I have danced down is the #RoadToMissAmerica!
On Roberts’ personal website, she talks about her platform “Children’s Advocacy: Ensuring the Rights of Every Child” and, when she attains her law degree, her goal is to “become a public interest attorney and policymaker with a focus on children’s issues.”
Miss South Dakota Miranda Mack
Miranda Mack calls herself “a total SDSU nerd” and she is currently majoring in music education. When she won her title, she told KDLT that it was a total shock. She explained:
I didn’t expect that at all and I was in complete shock. I think I was making really weird faces and I was kind of looking at everyone like, what just happened? So it must have been really comical to see … I thought, you know I’m gonna go and I’m not gonna win and it’s gonna be really great for my character!
Her platform is “Music for Life”.
Miss Tennessee Caty Davis
In an interview with Local 8 Now, just a couple months ago Davis previously opened up about her father’s battle with drug addiction and his suicide. She revealed:
My father was an addict, and three years ago on June 11, he committed suicide.
As a pageant winner, she hopes to help empower families affected by substance abuse.
Miss Texas Margana Wood
Wood is the Preliminary Lifestyle & Fitness Award winner for the Miss America pageant this year and she has also previously been Miss Texas’ Outstanding Teen 2012. Wood triumphed in the swimsuit category for the preliminaries this year.
She opened up about how Hurricane Harvey has affected so many of her friends and relatives. FOX News reports her saying that:
My parents were helping out whenever they could before they went to Atlantic City … whether it was buying more backpacks for the students, or just helping remove furniture that had been flooded … Thankfully, my home in Houston was safe. We were in an extremely lucky pocket that wasn’t flooded. And I say lucky because six blocks around us, everything was flooded. So I had a lot of family and friends that were impacted by the flood.
She then added:
It was very important for me to let everyone know that my heart is still in Houston. I also didn’t want everyone to think that Miss Texas should win Miss America because of the storm. I want to become Miss America because the judges believe in me and believe I can do the job. Not because of a sympathy vote or anything.
On her Instagram account, Wood also wrote the following note to her fans and friends:
While this is such a devastating tragedy in Houston I’m beyond proud of how my city has banded together, neighbor helping neighbor. Regardless of race, political preference, sexual orientation, in times of tragedy we are just human beings and we all belong. Although I’m in Atlantic City for the #MissAmerica Competition, my heart is in my hometown of Houston with all the victims of Hurricane Harvey.
Also according to her Instagram account, Wood has a boyfriend named Cole Stevens and when she won the title of Miss Texas, he showed his support online, writing, “My girl is Miss Texas! I’m so proud of my incredible, beautiful best friend and can’t wait to see where this year takes her. She continues to make me look way cooler than I am.”
Miss Utah JessiKate Riley
For Miss America this year, Riley was the winner of the Preliminary Talent Award on one of the preliminary nights. She was also previously Miss Utah’s Outstanding Teen 2014. In competing for Miss America, Riley took time to thank her family online for their support. She wrote on her Instagram account:
My family. Through the ups and the downs, you have been by my side through it all! I cannot thank you enough for your love and encouragement. I love you to the moon and back.
On her journey to the pageant, Riley said her goal is “to represent everyone who has ever felt like they were unable follow their dreams.”
Miss Vermont Erin Connor
For her talent, Erin Connor specializes in American Sign Language. She actually got her pilot’s license at just 16 years old and even piloted a plane to Atlantic City for the Miss America pageant. Previously, Connor was Miss Vermont’s Outstanding Teen 2010.
Miss Virginia Cecili Weber
Cecili Weber may be Miss Virginia, but she was also Miss Ohio’s Outstanding Teen in 2010. Leading up to the Miss America Pageant, Weber has posted the following message on social media:
I am so happy I could cry! This experience has been everything that I could have EVER asked for! I am so proud to have represented Virginia in the preliminary competition at Miss America. All my love to those who have supported me on this journey – I am here today because of you!
Weber is 22 years old and her talent is dance.
Miss Washington Nicole Renard
Previously, Renard was Miss Washington’s Outstanding Teen 2011 and was also Distinguished Young Woman of America in 2013. In preparation for the pageant, Renard has been keeping up with her social media posts and she recently wrote the following note on her Instagram account:
Mountain top moments don’t happen often or last very long in life, but when they do, I believe we are supposed to receive it in its fullness & live whole heartedly as the grace pours out.🏔 I will admit, there’s so much joy in the journey, but it wouldn’t be a journey if there’s wasn’t a dream, a goal, a vision. My heart is overflowing with joy to be living in one of my dreams right now. Wherever you are in your journey, whether you’re just beginning, in the valley or sprinting to the finish, I just want to encourage you to keep going. Never let anyone make you feel incapable because you are enough & you can do this.
Miss West Virginia Tamia Hardy
Tamia Hardy performed a hip-hop dance for her talent and she has been promoting her platform on her Instagram page, writing:
I stand up because it’s the right thing to do! Intervening will help to decrease sexual assault cases & keep the people of our communities safe.
Hardy says that, while growing up, she has witnessed a couple of her friends being sexually assaulted and those experiences have inspired her to try to take action.
Miss Wisconsin McKenna Holly Collins
McKenna Holly Collins was previously a company member at the Madison Ballet, so she is very skillful in dance. On her Instagram page, she has written about her passion for ballet. Collins stated:
I started ballet when I was 3 years old. For most students, ballet is simply a pre-requisite for other forms of dance…but all I ever wanted to do was ballet! I trained for 13 years before I was offered my first contract with a professional ballet company. I’m a firm believer in the power of the arts, which is why I decided to implement a dance outreach program last year in The Boys and Girls Club, right here in Wisconsin. I love sharing my passion for dance with my students and watching their creativity blossom!
Miss Wyoming Cheyenne Buyert
This year, Buyert was one of the Women in Business Scholarship Finalists for Miss America. She is 19 years old and her talent is vocals.
To reflect on last year’s contestants, check out the 2016-2017 contestants with the below link: