Miss America 2017 Winner

Miss America 2017 Crowns New Queen, Delivers Tone-Deaf 9/11 Tribute

A new Miss America was crowned on Sunday, but more importantly, the live event took home a special honor of its own: TV’s tackiest tribute on the 15th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.

Midway through Sunday’s ceremony, Miss Americas 2000 (Heather French Henry) and 2002 (Katie Harman) joined CEO Sam Haskell to remember the events of Sept. 11, 2001 — and how they almost cost us the ceremony that year. Almost.

“The Miss America competition was scheduled to be held four days [after September 11],” Henry recalled. “The contestants were all here in Atlantic City.”

“I was one of those contestants,” Harman added. “We were in shock, and we didn’t know if we could — or should — go on with the competition.” (So far, so good.)

“Miss America contestants are devoted to public service,” Henry explained. “Katie and her sisters turned away from fear and asked themselves, ‘What is the right thing to do for our country?'” (OK, this is where the message starts to get lost.)

Recalled Harman, “We prayed together for guidance, and together, we decided that even in the shadow of his tragedy, we would be an example of America’s resilience. And so… we went on.” (Bless you! Bless you, brave women!)

That’s when Henry laid down the damn hammer, clarifying that the Miss America competition was “America’s first major public event after 9/11.” (Wooooooow.)

“It’s what Miss America does,” Haskell said. “We stand in the light of God’s grace, and we rise, and we move forward.”

Cut to Miss America 2016 Betty Cantrell singing a selection from Katy Perry’s “Rise.” But even Cantrell’s vocal prowess couldn’t salvage the off-key tribute. (No, really, I thought she was kind of good!)

As for the rest of the competition… The evening began, as it always does, with the 52 hopefuls dancing on an Atlantic City pier to high-energy pop, bragging about whose state has the most lobsters and whatnot.

Then came time for the introduction of this year’s 1,000 judges — as a long-suffering 90210 fan, I appreciated “Jen Clark” getting a shout-out when Sara Foster walked onstage — and the reveal of the competition’s 15 semi-finalists.

Bikinis were worn, songs were sung, and unless someone switched my meds without telling me, I’m pretty sure one girl even did a dance routine to a song from Smash.

But this isn’t Mean Girls, so only one girl got to take the crown home at the end of the night. And that girl was… Miss Arkansas, Savvy Shields.

UPDATE: And no, your ears didn’t fail you. The final song played as the ceremony faded to black was, in fact, Gavin DeGraw’s “She Sets the City on Fire.” (Who approved that?!)

Your thoughts on this year’s winner, as well as that awkward 9/11 tribute? Drop ’em in a comment below.

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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18 Comments
  1. Jason Block says:

    They even got the information wrong. The first major public event was WWE Smackdown from Houston Texas on Sept. 13, 2001.

  2. Meg says:

    Such a tacky “tribute.” A moment of silence would have been so much more appropriate. These was no need for that self-aggrandizing nonsense.

  3. Terri W says:

    not many of the contestants actually answered their questions with clarity. .the one with the Roger Ailes/Gretchen Carlson..she went on and on about equal rights for women..I guess she doesn’t keep up on current events. ..the issue was sexual harassment. ..issue was not about equal pay.

  4. Deborah Poulton says:

    I loved that Miss Arkansas Savvy Shields wore black for her final evening gown in accepting her crown on 9/11. How appropriate For such a sad memorial day for the victims.

  5. Noreen says:

    The pageant was great. It’s a longstanding tradition. Hopefully one to continue forever. Love you Miss America. I’ve been watching for as long as I can remember. My moms happiest time of the year. Good luck and best wishes always!!!!!!!

    • Tony The Tank says:

      Couldn’t agree with you more. I seen some state representatives and I said how. States like Louisiana and even the eventual winner has thousands of prettier girls. You want to know how. Just watch a college football game and you see beauties in the crowds. I couldn’t believe how unattractive most of these girls were.

      • Excuse you, but as a Louisiana citizen I was very happy with our Miss Louisiana this year. She deferred a year of medical school to fulfill her duties, and her cause of mental illness awareness is extremely important in this day and age. Justine is beautiful inside and out.

    • xomylifexo says:

      You are the problem with America.

    • Katherine215 says:

      This may be the grossest comment I have read on TVLine.

  6. The entire event felt awkward and disorganized, a bit like a junior high talent show. A 9/11 tribute/comment/moment was appropriate but should’ve been the show opener, rather than that windstorm-wracked state-by-state introduction. The Top 15/12/7/5 cutdowns are so disjointed; I’m thinking those who don’t make the first cut are probably ecstatic. The celebrity judges seem clueless as to their jobs..and they aren’t bringing in the ratings they’re supposed to. The hosts of late have been as lame as the scripts they read from. At least we weren’t subjected to some heinous performance by a past-their-prime musical act.

    Is there no one with vision or creativity in charge? Is there no one with any business sense on the board? This pageant needs a serious makeover.

  7. Benny says:

    Airing a show as frivolous as a ‘beauty contest’ on September 11th shows just how how disconnected from reality Americans can be. Every network should have aired memorials, and videos, about the worst terrorist attack on American soil. We can NEVER forget 9/11. And, we need to continue to educate young children, EVERY 9/11, about what religios fanatisizm can do when it turns into hate…. A ‘beauty pagent’ has no place on television at a time as significant as 9/11. Just my opinion.

    Peace out.

  8. Sam says:

    There were preliminary talent winners who didn’t make the top 15. Articulate, intelligent woman. They always pre-select who they want and they can’t have any “real” competition standing next to her, or viewers would see the injustice. The singing and dancing was embarrassing to watch. The shrill falsettos and the garish eye makeup made every single contestant a poor example for woman every where. Each year the Miss America Pageant has a great opportunity, and each year they have the right girl, but they always drop the ball. Degrading to all woman. Poorly managed. Poorly directed.

  9. Matthew Stern says:

    Best part they weren’t the first public gathering after the attacks, WWE SmackDown was. WWE doesn’t even mention it because that’s not the reason they did it. Also watch Lily Garcia’s national anthem that day it was beautiful.