Miss America 2016 is a southern belle!
Betty Cantrell, Miss Georgia, took home the national crown in Sunday’s Miss America pageant, beating out 51 other competitors, one from each of the United States plus Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia.
Cantrell, a 21-year-old student at Mercer University, rocked a magenta bikini with gold accents for the swimsuit portion of the competition, a segment that judge Vanessa Williams said was more about what the contestants had on the inside than their physical appearance.
"Confidence is the first thing," Williams told the crowd when asked what she was looking for when judging the swimsuit competition. "From the first four steps, you can tell their confidence, how they carry themselves, because it’s not comfortable standing out there in a bikini. Back in my day it was one-piece."
Miss Georgia stunned during the evening gown portion, in a white dress set with a mermaid skirt.
"I would say that my dress might be a little bit sexy, because it’s a two-piece that shows an inch of midriff," Cantrell said. "I would say it’s more classy and elegant than sexy."
Cantrell sang opera for her talent, performing an emotional rendition of "Tu Tu Piccolo Iddio."
For the Q&A round, Miss Georgia fielded a unique question from country singer Brett Eldredge.
"New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady was suspended for his part in the so-called ‘DeflateGate’ scandal, then re-instated by the courts," Eldredge asked. "Legalities aside, did Tom Brady cheat?"
"That’s a really good question," Cantrell answered. "I’m not sure. I think i’d have to be there to see the ball, feel it, make sure it was deflated or not deflated. But if there was question there, then yes, I think he cheated and he should have been suspended for that. That’s not fair."
Cantrell, who hails from Warner Robbins, Georgia, was overcome with emotion when pageant hosts Chris Harrison and Brooke Burke-Charvet announced her as the 2015 queen. She is just the second Miss Georgia to win Miss America, taking home the coveted crown as well as a $50,000 scholarship.
During her year as Miss America, Cantrell will serve as a spokesperson for Healthy Children, Strong America.