Miss America looked and sounded a tad different this year.
Gone was the swimsuit competition, for instance.
Very much present, however, was a focus on the ongoing political climate in this country.
Miss Michigan, Emily Sioma, went viral and earned Internet acclaim by introducing herself as "from the state with 84% of the US fresh water but none for its residents to drink."
This is a reference to the lead water crisis in Flint, Michigan... which started in 2014 and which still has residents forced to drink only bottled or filtered water.
But the judges perhaps were not looking to delve into such topics in depth, considering Sioma did not make the Top 15.
As for who came out on top of the entire thing?
Let's build the drama and first note that Carrie Ann Inaba and Ross Mathews hosted the event, which aired live from Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City.
It featured Miss Connecticut Bridget Oei taking runner-up and Miss Louisiana Holli’ Conway taking third place...
... and Miss New York Nia Franklin being crowned the champion!
"It took a lot of perseverance to get here, and I want to thank my family, my mom and dad, who is a survivor of cancer. And all my sisters behind me, I love each and every one of you," she said upon earning the honor.
Is she a deserved Miss America?
For her talent portion, Franklin showcased her vocal abilities by performing part of an opera.
The contestant actually composed her first song was she was just six-years-old. Which is insane!
During the question-and-answer segment, Franklin was asked how she would promote positive body image as Miss America. She replied:
"I grew up in a school with only 5% minority, but growing up, I found my love of arts and through music, I felt positive about myself and who I was.
"That's what I would encourage young girls to do, find who you are."
Frankln became the first winner in the 98-year history of the contest to NOT be forced to get into a bathing suit on stage and strut around, showing off her boobs, stomach and rear end.
How did she feel about that development?
"These changes, I think, will be great for our organization," she told reporters after she won, adding:
"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."
It's sort of stunning this event even takes place in 2018, but the swimsuit elimination is a nice start.
Explained Gretchen Carlson, the newly minted chair of the Miss America Organization’s Board of Trustees, in June:
“We are no longer a pageant. We are a competition.
"We will no longer judge our candidates on their outward physical appearance. That’s huge! And that means that we will no longer have a swimsuit competition.”
Added Franklin of this evolution:
"I'm happy that I didn't have to do [wear a bikini] to win this title tonight because I'm more than just that. And all these women onstage are more than just that."
Congratulations again to Miss America 2019, Nia Franklin!