Indian American makes history as first Miss America

Atlantic City, Sep 16 (IANS) After conquering the realms of politics to business to sports, the growing influential Indian American community added a crown jewel to their glory with Nina Davuluri winning the Miss America title for the first time.

"I'm so proud to be the first Indian Miss America," the 24-year-old Miss New York and an aspiring physician told reporters Sunday night shortly after defeating 52 other contestants from all the 50 states, capital city of Washington, the US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico here.

"We are making history right here as Asian-Americans," said Davuluri after last year's winner, Mallory Hagan, another former Miss New York, crowned her successor.

"I'm so happy this organisation has celebrated diversity, and, on this stage tonight, there was so much diversity," she said.

Miss California Crystal Lee finished the first runner-up in the 93-year old beauty pageant that debuted in 1921 and returned to Atlantic City after a six-year stint in Las Vegas.

Syracuse resident Davuluri, who was also the first Indian-American to serve as Miss New York, sashayed off with the tiara and the $50,000 scholarship cash that she intends to use to pursue her medical studies by showing off her talent with a "Classical Bollywood Fusion" dance.

Competing on the platform of "Celebrating Diversity through Cultural Competency," she was also asked a question about revelations that American television personality Julie Chen had plastic surgery on her eyes.

Davuluri answered that she personally was opposed to plastic surgery and said that one's diversity should be celebrated.

Davuluri studied at St. Joseph High School and University of Michigan. Her scholastic honours include Dean's List; Michigan Merit Award; National Honour Society, according to Miss America organisation.

Earlier the 53 contestants introduced themselves in a taped segment with some quippy catchphrases, including "Listening to your phone calls from the Nation's Capital. Just kidding! I'm Miss District of Columbia, Bindhu Pamarthi."

The paegeant was televised live by ABC, which picked up the contest again in 2011 after dropping it in 2004 because of a steep ratings decline.

The judges were 2004 Miss America winner Deidre Downs Gunn, the New York Knicks' Amar'e Stoudemire, Lance Bass from the boy band 'N Sync, comedian Mario Cantone, violinist Joshua Bell and television chef Carla Hall.

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