Madison Marsh, a 22-year-old second lieutenant in the US Air Force and master’s student at the Harvard Kennedy School’s public policy program, emerged victorious at the 2024 Miss America pageant in Orlando, Florida on Sunday night. Marsh, representing the state of Colorado, is the first active-duty Air Force officer ever to receive the national title.
Ellie Breaux of Texas placed as first-runner-up.
Fifty-one contestants participated in the event, representing all 50 US states, as well as the District of Columbia.
The pageant followed three nights of preliminary competitions. At the beginning of the main event, the field was narrowed to 11 semi-finalists — 10 chosen by the preliminary judges, and one by a public vote open to pageant fans and followers across the United States.
These 11 women then participated in four rounds of competition — a fitness showcase (a runway walk in rhinestone-embellished athleisure); a “hot topics” discussion round, which replaced the pageant’s more traditional Q&A with a disparate set of talking points; a talent performance; and an evening gown presentation — before the five finalists were announced. Marsh and Breaux, who were followed in the final rankings by second-, third- and fourth-runners-up, Cydney Bridges of Indiana, Mallory Hudson of Kentucky and Caroline Parente of Rhode Island, respectively.
In the somewhat disparate discussion round, which broached topics including terrorism, technology, nutrition and climate change, Marsh responded to the topic of “drugs in America” by recalling her late mother’s battle with pancreatic cancer. In the talent round, she presented a spoken-word piece centered on receiving a pilot’s license at 16.
The five finalists then faced an additional question about their goals as Miss America. Marsh responded by highlighting her military credentials as an embodiment of her commitment to learning and leading “with passion.”
She succeeds the 2023 Miss America, Grace Stanke of Wisconsin.
The 2024 Miss America’s Teen pageant, which took place Saturday night, crowned 16-year-old Hanley House, of North Carolina.
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