The Miss America Pageant is back with a whole new lease on life. The girls are back in New Jersey this year, after a six-year stint in Las Vegas. Miss America’s popularity had slipped so far that the pageant wasn’t even on network television between 2007 and 2009, but Miss America Organization CEO Sam Haskell says the six-hour TLC reality show that preceded the pageant those years, rebuilt the young audience:
“The only way for Miss America or any organization like this to survive is to have young people who are interested in it. And younger girls were watching reality shows and they watched the Miss America reality show.”
Haskell says as a result, the median age of pageant viewers dropped from 58 to 37, and that got the attention of network TV once again.
This year’s hosts are The Bachelor‘s Chris Harrison and Good Morning America‘s Lara Spencer, with former ‘N Sync singer Lance Bass, New York Knicks forward Amar’e Stoudemire, violinist Joshua Bell, comedian Mario Cantone, Shark Tank‘s Barbara Corcoran, The Chew‘s Carla Hall, and former Miss America Deidre Downs Gunn serving as judges.
“It’s going to be a loving tribute to Atlantic City and also a hip, relevant look at Miss America from music choices through to the presentation,” Haskell told Entertainment Weekly of returning to Atlantic City — after six years in Las Vegas — for the 93rd annual event. ”We’re bringing the runway back, which we lost going to Las Vegas, as part of an elite production number. The girls will model their swimsuits and gowns on the runway.”
When Entertainment Weekly asked Haskell about the very first tattooed contestant, he replied, "I think we’ve probably had girls with tattoos before who chose to cover them and she’s chosen not to cover them. We embrace every young woman’s individuality and however she wants to present herself. We allow them to do that. This is her choice and we embrace that."
The pageant airs today at 9pm Eastern time.
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