Miss Georgia Betty Cantrell wins Miss America pageant

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2016 Miss America Competition - Show

There she is, Miss America! After narrowing down the top three to Miss Georgia, Miss Colorado, and Miss Mississippi, Miss Georgia (Betty Cantrell) took the crown with Miss Mississippi as the first runner-up. Naturally, Cantrell balled hysterically.

Miss Georgia Betty Cantrell is the new Miss America, but her crowning moment was nearly overshadowed by a three-decade old pageant scandal, and a still-raw debate over whether the NFL’s reigning champions cheated on their way to a Super Bowl victory.

“I’m still so overwhelmed, I don’t know what to say other than thank you! ” Cantrell told reporters moments after being crowned Miss America.

The pageant also marked the return of Miss America 1984 Vanessa Williams, who was back for the first time after resigning the crown in 1984 following a nude photo scandal. Pageant executive chairman Sam Haskell apologized to Williams, who served as head judge, on behalf of the pageant.

“I want to apologize for anything that was said or done,” Haskell told Williams as they stood on the stage and the audience bathed her in applause. “Vanessa: Welcome back!”

Cantrell was asked during the question and answer portion of the pageant whether New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady cheated en route to his team’s run to a Super Bowl title last season by using footballs that were improperly deflated. A league-imposed four-game suspension of Brady was recently overturned by a federal judge.

Williams’ response? “So unexpected but so beautiful,” she said. “I love the girls and I’m so honored to be back.”

On Saturday, the Miss America contestants hit the Atlantic City Boardwalk for the annual “Show Us Your Shoes” parade.

Most of the shoes had designs specific to the contestant’s home states. New Jersey, for instance, had dice and Monopoly money on her shoes in a nod to the pageant’s Atlantic City history. Miss Idaho had a potato.

Contestants from all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico were vying for the crown. The U.S. Virgin islands, which competed last year, could not field the required minimum number of entrants this year, pageant officials said. It is eligible for future competition