Miss America 2016: Betty Cantrell

Good morning America, wake up and greet your new shining star, Miss America 2016 Betty Cantrell of Georgia! This was the first Miss America pageant I’ve attended and I must say that I am thrilled beyond words with the results. Yes, another year and another complete whiff on predicting the winner, but I’ll be the first to admit that the judges made a great choice. Miss Georgia was a great overall competitor from start to finish. During the evening gown session, I recall thinking to myself “I bet that’s the girl who will win it”, even though, of course, I was rooting for my own selections. Her talent (operatic vocal) blew me away. She was the last one to go and really stood out among the vocalists.

The onstage question did not go smoothly, as she had to ask the questioner to repeat, and her answer showed a lack of knowledge about the “Deflategate” football scandal in the NFL. Clearly she deserved a complete pass on that portion since what pageant girl would possibly have an opinion about whether the New England Patriots quarterback deflated footballs? The presumptuousness of the question was outrageous. “Deflategate” is not an issue of national importance. When was the last time Tom Brady was asked about a pageant controversy at a press conference? He would have been just as dumbfounded (and surely far less composed).

It is the rare MAP that I wake up the next day feeling fully satisfied with the selection of a contestant which was not in my finalist predictions. (The last time that happened was Teresa Scanlan in 2011.) But that’s how I feel. I was there and I concur. She was the right choice.

I think what really puts the icing on a great pageant is seeing the winner overcome with emotion. They did the final selection differently this year. I can’t remember ever seeing it. There were not two, but three contestants — Miss Georgia, Miss South Carolina, and Miss Oklahoma — whose names had not been called. The first, second, third, and fourth runners up had been announced, so the ladies who remained were either the getting the crown or finishing outside the Top 5. They did not know which it would be.  

Miss Georgia had to be thinking that she would be one of the odd ladies out after stumbling over her onstage question.  Her nerves also had to be wracked from being the last contestant called for both the Final 15 and the Top 10.
When they announced her as Miss America, her reaction was as authentic as they come.  Pure shock mixed with hysterical joy.  It doesn’t get any better than that.

So here’s to a memorable reign for a special lady who I will always remember as the first Miss America I ever saw crowned in person!

As for my picks overall, I didn’t do half bad.  My first three picks (Florida, South Carolina, & Alabama), all finished in the Top 10. Miss Alabama finished just one spot away from my prediction (4th instead of 3rd).  Miss Oklahoma, Miss Mississippi, and Miss Louisiana all made the Top 10 as I predicted.  Miss Iowa did not crack the Top 10, but that was more or less a pleasant surprise since I did not understand how she won two preliminaries anyway.  Although I will say I think she did surprisingly well in the swimsuit portion and I was disappointed that she did not get to show off her talent.

I was very pleased to hear Miss Arkansas’s name called for the Final 15, even though I did no think she would make it.  I feel like she did the best should could and am very proud of her.

Miss Texas showed me up, as usual. That is a yearly occurrence.  Both she and Miss Georgia made my Top 20 but were left out of my Top 16.  Foolish me.  For the second year in a row, Kansas let me down in a big way.  I will be extra cautious with picking Miss Kansases in the future.

Overall, it was a fantastic pageant.  Great people, worthy causes, and terrific competition.  Until next year!

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