Miss America 2018: Miss North Dakota, Cara Mund, Wins Pageant, Makes History




 
Miss North Dakota has become the first contestant in the pageant’s 96-year history to bring home a win for her state at Miss America.

Cara Mund, 23, a graduate of Brown University, triumphed Sunday at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, besting 50 other contestants to take the title. Mund’s win also makes her the first Miss America to have attended an Ivy League college. Along with the Miss America crown, she receives a $50,000 scholarship for her win, a six-figure salary and an appearance contract with Dick Clark Productions.




 
 
First runner-up was Jennifer Davis, Miss Missouri; second runner-up was Miss New Jersey, Kaitlyn Schoeffel; third runner-up was Briana Kinsey, Miss District of Columbia; and fourth runner-up was Miss Texas, Margana Wood. Schoeffel’s ranking is the best a Miss New Jersey has managed in years.

Mund, 23, is from Bismarck, North Dakota and was accepted to Notre Dame School of Law last fall, but decided to defer to try to win her state pageant. She has a bachelor’s degree in business, entrepreneurship and organizations from Brown.

For her pageant talent, Mund, who has trained with the Rockettes, danced to Michael Jackson’s “The May You Make Me Feel” in a routine she choreographed herself, complete with a daring move that required her to walk over and topple a chair.

For the “final question,” Mund was asked about climate change; was the United States withdrawing from the Paris Agreement a good decision? In her answer, she didn’t hesitate to disagree with President Donald Trump.

For her pageant talent, Mund, who has trained with the Rockettes, danced to Michael Jackson’s “The May You Make Me Feel” in a routine she choreographed herself, complete with a daring move that required her to walk over and topple a chair.

For the “final question,” Mund was asked about climate change; was the United States withdrawing from the Paris Agreement a good decision? In her answer, she didn’t hesitate to disagree with President Donald Trump.

“I had always dreamed of being Miss America,” Mund said at a post-crowning press conference. In 2007, she founded an annual fashion show benefitting the Make-a-Wish Foundation in North Dakota, which is her pageant platform.
 
Miss America 2018
 
She’s raised nearly $80,000 for the cause. She also worked in the Washington D.C. office of U.S. Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., for five months, fielding calls about the Dakota Access Pipeline.
 



 
Commenting on the pageant after the broadcast, judge Molly Sims told reporters she was impressed with Mund’s off-stage pageant interview, where she talked about being shut down by her high school guidance counselor when she mentioned her college aspirations.
 

 
“You’re never going to an Ivy League school,” the counselor had said.

“She said, ‘OK, well watch me,'” Sims said.

The same “tell her no, and she’ll prove you wrong” spirit applies to Mund’s pageant career. She tried four times to win her state crown despite North Dakota’s less than stellar Miss America record.
 



 
“It doesn’t matter where you come from,” Mund said after the show. “If you have the Miss America spirit, you can do it.”
 
Miss America 2018
 
Mund says she is related to Victoria Claflin Woodhull, an American trailblazer in several fields: the first woman to run for U.S. president, the first woman to run a Wall Street brokerage firm and the first woman to start a newspaper. As for Mund, her next big dream is to become the governor of North Dakota.




 
 
Brown University professor Hilary Levey Friedman, an expert in pageants who judged the Miss America’s Outstanding Teen pageant, says no Miss America has ever won public office, though pageant contestants have.

Levey Friedman traveled to Atlantic City to support Mund, who was a student in her “Beauty Pageants and American Society” class. She worked with the future Miss America on her honors thesis (one guess as to the subject) and says Mund could perhaps bring a certain “gravitas” to the pageant crown. It’s not that other Miss Americas haven’t displayed intelligence, Levy Friedman says, but she thinks the Ivy first could prove beneficial, especially to a pageant that is trying to promote Miss America as a provider of scholarships.

“We live in a very credential-driven society,” said Levey Friedman, whose own mother, Pamela Eldred, was Miss America 1970. She said Mund’s passion for her platform, dedication to her home state, “well-informed answer” to her final question and “truly exceptional talent” made her a top contender — that and her ability to maintain calm.

Schoeffel, Miss New Jersey, a 24-year-old Atlantic City native who lives in Egg Harbor Township, was one of two locals to compete this year. A professional dancer and magician’s assistant, she performed her dance routine to “Shut Up and Dance” by Walk the Moon during the pageant broadcast. For her personality question, she was asked if she’d rather go on a date with a doctor or a movie star.

“I would have to go with the doctor, because intelligence is so attractive in a man,” Schoeffel said. (For the record, she is dating magician Wayne Hoffman and performs in his act. He’s teaching her how to be a mind-reader.)
 
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For her final question, Schoeffel was asked if states should get rid of Confederate monuments. She said the statues shouldn’t be destroyed, but moved (like to a museum), since they’re “part of history.”
 



 
The other Jersey contestant was Miss Delaware, Chelsea Bruce, 21, a senior political science and economics major at the University of Delaware, who hails from Manasquan and had dance as her talent, but did not make the top 15.
 
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“Please fill in the blank,” said judge Jess Cagle, editorial director for People and Entertainment Weekly. “I know a lot of people love it but I think blank is totally overrated.” Bonacquisti seemed at a loss. “Rompers,” she stumbled … as in the article of clothing.

Before she was eliminated from competition, Miss Pennsylvania, Katie Schreckengast, 21, a student at Pennsylvania State University, where she is a member of the marching band, wowed in the talent portion with her alto sax.
 



 
Other winners of preliminary awards were Miss Minnesota, Brianna Drevlow, 23, a pianist who won the talent category for her performance of George Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue”; Miss Texas, Margana Wood, 22, a Houston local who found herself talking about Hurricane Harvey all week and won for swimsuit; Miss Florida, Sara Zeng, 22, who also won for swimsuit as her state braced for Hurricane Irma; and Miss Utah, JessiKate Riley, 20, who wowed with her violin, performing “Praeludium and Allegro” by Fritz Kreisler to snag a talent award.
 
Miss America 2018
 
Miss Vermont, Erin Connor, 22, an advocate for STEM education for women, made a splash just before pageant week by flying herself to Atlantic City from Burlington, Vermont.

“I realized how underrepresented women are in the field, specifically aviation and engineering,” Connor, who aspires to become a commercial pilot, told NJ Advance Media.
 



 
Miss America started in 1921 on the Atlantic City Boardwalk as a way to keep people in the city after Labor Day. It’s been four years since the pageant’s return to Atlantic City from Las Vegas, where the pageant moved in 2006. (The state Casino Reinvestment Development Authority continues to support the pageant with $12.5 million in subsidies through 2018.)
 
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But ratings for the ABC program have been iffy, paling in comparison to the 27 million viewers who tuned in for the first televised pageant in 1954, when Miss America was a Super Bowl-caliber event before there was even a Super Bowl.
 



 
When critics aren’t calling the pageant an outdated, irrelevant TV program, charging the swimsuit-happy event with objectifying women, they’re poking holes in the pageant’s key defense: its scholarships. The Miss America Organization prides itself on being the nation’s largest provider of scholarships for young women.
 
Miss America 2018
 
But during the last night of preliminaries, Sam Haskell, Miss America CEO, alluded to a 2014 report from John Oliver to recognize mistakes the pageant made in overstating its scholarship award claims.

(The claim: $45 million. The actual total: Nothing close to that.)

“We listened to his comments,” Haskell said. “Thank you, John Oliver. You helped make us better.”




 
 
Source: www.nj.com