38 photos of Miss America winners being crowned through the years

Donald Kravitz/Getty ImagesThe newest Miss America.

The Miss America competition has been around since 1921. While it has gone through many changes throughout the years, one thing never changes: the unbridled joy and excitement each woman feels when they are crowned.

We’ve rounded up 38 different Miss Americas, caught at the exact moment they received their crown. Whether there are tears, laughs, or shock, one thing that they all have in common is pure, unadulterated happiness.


1940: Miss Philadelphia, Frances Burke

AP ImagesPatricia Donnelly, Miss America 1939, crowns Miss America 1940 at the annual Miss America pageant on September 7, 1940.

Burke won when key cities were still eligible as competitors, not just states.


1946: Miss California, Marilyn Buferd

AP ImagesMarilyn Buferd sits on the throne wearing the regal robe as former Miss America Bess Myerson transfers her crown to Miss America 1946 at the annual Miss America pageant on September 7, 1945.

California is tied with New York for the state that has produced the most Miss Americas. They have had six apiece.


1951: Miss Alabama, Yolande Betbeze

AP ImagesYolanda Betbeze, Miss America of 1951, is crowned by her predecessor, Jacque Mercer, September 9, 1950.

After Betbeze won, she refused to pose in Catalina Swimwear, one of the pageant’s sponsors. This infuriated the brand so much that they created their own pageant, Miss USA.


1959: Miss Mississippi, Mary Ann Mobley

AP ImagesMiss America 1959 Mary Ann Mobley is crowned by outgoing Miss America Marilyn Elaine Van Derbur on September 6, 1958.

Mobley was the first Miss Mississippi to win the crown.


1960: Miss Mississippi, Lynda Mead

Bill Achatz/AP ImagesMiss America of 1960, Miss Mississippi, Lynda Lee Mead is crowned by outgoing Miss America, Mary Ann Mobley on September 12, 1959.

Both the outgoing and new Miss America hailed from Mississippi in 1959.


1970: Miss Michigan, Pamela Eldred

Bill Achatz/AP ImagesPamela Anne Eldred is crowned Miss America 1970 by outgoing Miss America, Judith Anne Ford on September 6, 1969.

Eldred became the third Miss Michigan to win the pageant when she became Miss America 1970.


1971: Miss Texas, Phyllis George

AP ImagesPhyllis George, the former Miss Texas, won the national title of Miss America on September 12, 1970, having the crown placed on her head by the former Miss America, Pamela Anne Eldred of Michigan.

George went on to become the First Lady of Kentucky from 1979 to 1983, as she was married to former Kentucky Governor John Y. Brown Jr.


1976: Miss New York, Tawny Godin

AP ImagesMiss America 1976, Tawny Elaine Godin is crowned by Miss America 1975 Shirley Cothran, on September 7, 1975.

She appeared in “Rocky II” as a reporter.


1980: Miss Mississippi, Cheryl Prewitt

Jack Kanthal/AP ImagesCheryl Prewitt, Miss America 1980, is crowned on September 8, 1979.

Prewitt was involved in a car accident when she was 11 years old, requiring 100 stitches.


1981: Miss Oklahoma, Susan Powell

Rusty Kennedy/AP ImagesThe new Miss America Susan Powell, Miss Oklahoma, reacts as she is crowned by Cheryl Prewitt, the outgoing Miss America at the pageant on September 6, 1980.

Powell went on to host several seasons of the Discovery Channel show, “Home Matters.”


1984: Miss New York, Vanessa Williams

AP ImagesVanessa Williams is shown after being crowned Miss America 1984 on September 17, 1983.

Williams remains the only Miss America to resign. She was allegedly pressured to by the organisation after NSFW photos of her were published in Penthouse, without her consent.

Williams went on to become a successful singer and actress, best known for her role as Wilhemina Slater on “Ugly Betty.”


1986: Miss Mississippi, Susan Akin

AP ImagesSusan Akin is crowned Miss America 1986 by former Miss America, Sharlene Wells at the pageant on September 14, 1985.

Akins’ win was successfully predicted by a computer program that gave her seven to one odds of winning.


1995: Miss Alabama, Heather Whitestone

STR New/ReutersMiss America 1994, Kimberly Aiken, crowns Heather Whitestone, Miss Alabama, the new Miss America, on September 17, 1994.

Whitestone was deaf, making her the first Miss America with a disability.

In 2002, she received a cochlear implant, allowing her to hear for the first time since she was 18 months old.


1996: Miss Oklahoma, Shawntel Smith

STR New/ReutersShawntel Smith, Miss Oklahoma and the new Miss America 1996, has her crown adjusted by last year’s Miss America, Heather Whitestone, September 16, 1995.

Smith was crowned Miss America at the 75th annual Miss America pageant.


1997: Miss Kansas, Tara Holland

Jeff Christensen/ReutersMiss Kansas, Tara Holland, reacts as the crown is placed on her head by outgoing Miss America Shawntel Smith at the Miss America pageant on September 14, 1996.

Holland getting crowned is shown at the beginning of the film “Little Miss Sunshine,” which centres around a family road-tripping to a children’s beauty pageant.


1998: Miss Illinois, Kate Shindle

Associated Press/B Vartan BoyajianMiss Ilinois, Katherine Shindle reacts as she’s crowned the 1998 Miss America by the 1997 Miss America Tara Holland at the Miss America Pageant on September 13, 1997.

Shindle went on to become a successful theatre actress – she originated the role of Vivienne Kensington in the Broadway adaptation of “Legally Blonde.”


1999: Miss Virginia, Nicole Johnson

STR New/ReutersMiss America 1998 Kate Shindle places the crown on Nicole Johnson from Virginia, who was named Miss America 1999 on September 20, 1998.

Johnson became the first Miss America with diabetes, and the first to use an insulin pump.


2000: Miss Kentucky, Heather French

Charles Rex Arbogast/AP ImagesMiss Kentucky Heather French is crowned Miss America 2000 by outgoing Miss America Nicole Johnson on September 18, 1999.

French was the first Miss Kentucky to take the top honour.


2001: Miss Hawaii, Angela Perez Baraquio

Charles Rex Arbogast/AP ImagesFormer Miss America Heather French crowns Miss America 2001 Angela Perez Baraquio, the former Miss Hawaii, on October 14, 2000.

When Baraquio was crowned, she became the first Asian American, first Filipino American, and first teacher to win Miss America.


2002: Miss Oregon, Katie Harman

Getty ImagesKatie Harman is crowned Miss America 2002, by Miss America 2001, Angela Perez Baraquio September 22, 2001.

Miss America 2002 happened just 11 days after the September 11 attacks – the contestants voted to continue on with the pageant instead of cancelling.


2003: Miss Illinois, Erika Harold

William Thomas Cain/Getty ImagesMiss America 2003 Erika Harold is crowned by former Miss America 2002 Katie Harmon on September 21, 2002.

Harold ran for Congress in 2012, and is currently running for Illinois attorney general.


2004: Miss Florida, Ericka Dunlap

Mary Godleski/AP ImagesMiss Florida Ericka Dunlap reacts after being named Miss America 2004 as outgoing Miss America Erika Harold places the crown on September 20, 2003.

Dunlap and her husband competed on “The Amazing Race 15” in 2009. They placed third overall.


2005: Miss Alabama, Deidre Downs

Brian Branch-Price/AP ImagesFormer Miss America Ericka Dunlap crowns Miss Alabama Deidre Downs, as Miss America 2005 on September 18, 2004.

Downs recently married her girlfriend in April 2018, making her the first Miss America to enter into a same sex marriage.


2006: Miss Oklahoma, Jennifer Berry

Ethan Miller/Getty ImagesMiss America 2005, Deidre Downs, crowns Jennifer Berry, Miss Oklahoma, after winning the 2006 Miss America Pageant on January 21, 2006.

Berry was the first Miss America to be crowned in Las Vegas, Nevada.


2007: Miss Oklahoma, Lauren Nelson

Jae C. Hong/AP ImagesMiss Oklahoma Lauren Nelson is crowned Miss America 2007 by Miss America 2006 Jennifer Berry at the Miss America pageant on January 29, 2007.

Nelson began hosting “Discover Oklahoma,” a “statewide travel and tourism television program” in 2016.


2008: Miss Michigan, Kirsten Haglund

Jae C. Hong/AP ImagesKirsten Haglund is crowned Miss America 2008 by former Miss America Lauren Nelson during the Miss America Pageant on January 26, 2008.

Haglund hosts The Sonder Podcast, which “features interviews with thought leaders in politics, faith, mental health, and culture.”


2009: Miss Indiana, Katie Stam

Isaac Brekken/AP ImagesMiss Indiana Katie Stam is crowned Miss America 2009 by Kirsten Haglund on January 24, 2009.

During the lead-up to Miss America 2009, TLC aired “Miss America: Countdown to the Crown,” in which viewers could vote for contestants to receive the Golden Sash, which would help them secure a place in the top 15. Stam was one of the four to win the Golden Sash.


2010: Miss Virginia, Caressa Cameron

Ethan Miller/Getty Images for Planet HollywoodMiss America 2009 Katie Stam crowns Caressa Cameron, Miss Virginia, the new Miss America on January 30, 2010.

Cameron supported the removal of former-CEO Sam Haskell, telling the Washington Post that “the organisation prevented her from participating in events related to her platform, HIV/AIDS prevention, and that she was once mistakenly copied on an email in which Haskell referred to her mother as ‘uneducated trash.'”


2011: Miss Nebraska, Teresa Scanlan

Ethan Miller/Getty ImagesMiss America 2010 Caressa Cameron crowns Teresa Scanlan, Miss Nebraska, the new Miss America on January 15, 2011.

Scanlan was the youngest Miss America in 70 years – she was just 17 years old when she won the pageant.


2012: Miss Wisconsin, Laura Kaeppeler

Eric Jamison/AP ImagesMiss Wisconsin Laura Kaeppeler reacts after being crowned Miss America on January 14, 2012.

In 2014, Kaeppeler married Mike Fleiss, the creator of “The Bachelor,” and its multiple spin-offs.


2013: Miss New York, Mallory Hagan

David Becker/Getty ImagesMiss America 2012 Laura Kaeppeler crowns Mallory Hagan of New York the new Miss America on January 12, 2013.

Hagan won the Democratic nomination for Alabama’s 3rd congressional district in June 2018.


2014: Miss New York, Nina Davuluri

Michael Loccisano/Getty ImagesMiss America 2014 contestant Miss New York Nina Davuluri is crowned 2014 Miss America by 2013 Miss America Mallory Hagan on September 15, 2013.

Davuluri became a fan-favourite when she performed a Bollywood dance for her talent portion.


2015: Miss New York, Kira Kazantsev

Mel Evans/AP ImagesMiss America 2014 Nina Davuluri crowns Miss New York Kira Kazantsev as Miss America 2015 on September 14, 2014.

Kazantsev was accused of hazing her sorority sisters before she was named Miss America, while she was a student at Hoftstra University. She claimed that she was terminated from her sorority for not attending a judiciary hearing – not hazing.


2016: Miss Georgia, Betty Cantrell

Mel Evans/AP ImagesMiss Georgia Betty Cantrell is crowned Miss America 2016 by Miss America 2015 Kira Kazantsev on September 13, 2015.

Cantrell met her now-husband, Spencer Maxwell, on Tinder.


2017: Miss Arkansas, Savvy Shields

Michael Loccisano/Getty Images for dcpMiss America 2017 Savvy Shields is crowned Miss America on September 11, 2016.

At Miss America 2017, Vanessa Williams returned to the Miss America stage after resigning from her position in the ’80s. She received an official apology from the organisation, which had allegedly pressured her to resign after NSFW photos of hers appeared in Penthouse without her consent.


2018: Miss North Dakota, Cara Mund

Donald Kravitz/Getty Images for Dick Clark ProductionsMiss North Dakota 2017 Cara Mund is crowned Miss America 2018 by Miss America 2017 Savvy Shields on September 10, 2017.

Mund shook the Miss America Organisation when she published an open letter she wrote to her fellow Miss Americas detailing a year of alleged bullying, intimidation, and unhappiness while she was the reigning Miss America.


2019: Miss New York, Nia Franklin

Noah K. Murray/AP ImagesMiss New York Nia Franklin reacts after being named Miss America 2019, as she is crowned by last year’s winner Cara Mund on September 9, 2018.

Franklin was crowned Miss America on September 9, 2018, making her the fourth Miss New York to take the Miss America crown in seven years.


2020: Miss Virginia, Camille Schrier

Donald Kravitz/Getty ImagesMiss America 2019 Nia Franklin crowns Miss Virginia 2019 Camille Schrier, as Miss America 2020 on December 19, 2019.

Schrier’s talent during the pageant was conducting a chemical experiment on stage. She was crowned the newest Miss America on December 19.

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