Miss New York Nina Davuluri – Source: Reuters
Mere seconds after the tiara had been placed atop her head, a barrage of tweets criticising the new Miss America flooded the Internet.
Nina Davuluri, 24, has become the first Indian-American woman to wear the Miss America crown.
But the tweets that followed the Atlantic City pageant did not focus on the judge’s questions or the winner’s desire to become a physician.
Instead they focused on Ms Davuluri’s heritage.
“If you’re #Miss America you should have to be American,” one user wrote on Twitter.
Other tweeters wasted no time perpetuating stereotypes.
“Miss America? You mean Miss 7-11,” wrote Jalin Leatherman, referring to a stereotype about Indian people owning convenience stores.
Others connected her to the Islamist militant organisation Al Qaeda, even though she is not Muslim.
“Miss America right now or miss Al Qaeda?” tweeted Shannon McCann.
“How can a Muslim win Miss AMERICA,” wrote Max Orr.
However, many other Twitter users quickly hit back.
“She was born in New York and is just as American as anyone else,” said one.
“People freaking out about the Miss America pageant: If I remember correctly the entire US was founded on immigration, no?” wrote Eric Holloway.
Ms Davuluri has not responded to the negative comments. However, her answers during and after the show focused on diversity.
Just before the results were announced, Ms Davuluri said, “We are making history right here as Asian-Americans.”
“I’m so happy this organisation has celebrated diversity, and, on this stage tonight, there was so much diversity,” she told reporters shortly after defeating contestants from 49 other states, the District of Columbia, the US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.
Ms Davuluri, who represented New York, performed a Bollywood fusion dance and was asked about revelations that American television personality Julie Chen had plastic surgery on her eyes.
She answered that she personally was opposed to plastic surgery and said that one’s diversity should be celebrated.
Contestants were judged on a personal interview, a talent demonstration, an on-stage question, and their appearance in evening gowns and swimwear during the two-hour nationally televised event.
As the winner, Ms Davuluri will receive a US$50,000 scholarship. She said she would use the money to pay for graduate school.
Several contestants made headlines during preliminary competitions.
Miss Iowa, Nicole Kelly, was born without her left forearm and said the competition helped her promote a platform of overcoming disabilities.
Theresa Vail, Miss Kansas and a sergeant in the Army National Guard, became the first contestant to display tattoos.
Miss America has seen its popularity ebb and flow over its nearly 100-year history and it has been the target of critics who say the pageant format objectifies women.
The judges were former Miss America 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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