Kira Kazantsev, who is the reigning Miss New York was named the new Miss America at Atlantic City’s Boardwalk Hall on Sunday night.
Kira Kazantsev received the crown from the former Miss America Nina Davuluri, who was also a former Miss New York and the first Miss America of Indian Heritage. It marked the third year in a row that a contestant from her state has walked away with the crown in the nationally televised pageant.
During the awards, which saw Miss Virginia Courtney Paige Garrett emerge as the first runner-up, Kira Kazantsev sang Pharrell Williams’ Happy while sitting cross-legged on the stage and banging a red plastic cup on the floor during the “talent” portion of the show, which you can see below.
She said to have been inspired by the 2012 movie “Pitch Perfect” in which Anna Kendrick’s character auditions for an acapella group by performing rhythmically with a cup.
Although her performance sparked controversy in social media, Kira went ahead to explain that her performance was aimed at showing other aspiring contestants that one can perform any talent they like and still win Miss America regardless of what other people think.
Kira plans to attend law school with the $50,000 scholarship she won and named combating sexual assault in the military as the issue she would want female U.S. Senators to press their male counterparts on.
Other top 5 finalists included Miss Arkansas Ashton Jo Campbell; Miss Florida Victoria Cowen; and Miss Massachusetts Lauren Kuhn while Miss North Dakota, Jacky Arness was chosen by her peers as Miss Congeniality.