Miss North Dakota, Cara Mund, was crowned Miss America 2018 tonight at the birthplace of the legendary competition in Atlantic City’s Boardwalk Hall for its 97th Anniversary broadcast on the ABC Television Network. Returning for his 9th time as host, Chris Harrison was joined by co-host Sage Steele and celebrity judges Maria Menounos, Thomas Rhett, Molly Sims, Jordin Sparks, Tara Lipinski, Miss America 2014 Nina Davuluri and PEOPLE Editor in Chief Jess Cagle.
Mund’s acceptance of the highly-coveted crown is just the beginning of a journey that will take her to every corner of the nation and around the world during her year of service as Miss America 2018. She will embark on her national speaking tour about her platform, A Make-A-Wish Passion with Fashion, and act as the official National Goodwill Ambassador for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, a non-profit organization dedicated to saving and improving the lives of children by raising funds for its 170 member hospitals, is the national platform partner of the Miss America Organization.
Cara is an Ivy League honors graduate from Brown University who is headed to law school. At age 14, Cara founded North Dakota’s Annual Make-A-Wish Fashion Show. For 10 years, Cara has brightened 23 Wish Kids’ lives, became a “Certified Wish Granter,” and raised more than $78,500 for Make-A-Wish. In 2011, President Barack Obama recognized Cara’s charitable efforts. Cara is a national dance champion and trained four summers with The Rockettes. Cara’s recent work in the United States Senate and her passion for helping others ignited her own wish – to become the first Miss America from North Dakota.
The first runner-up in the competition was Miss Missouri, Jennifer Davis, who earned a $25,000 scholarship. Her talent was a Bollywood dance routine and her personal platform is United We Stand, Divided We Fall: Diversity Matters. The second runner-up is Miss New Jersey, Kaitlyn Schoeffel, who received a $20,000 scholarship. Her talent was dance, and her personal platform is Operation Empowerment. Third runner-up Miss District of Columbia Briana Kinsey received a $15,000 scholarship. Her talent was pop vocal, and her platform is Daring to Defeat Diabetes. Fourth runner-up Miss Texas Margana Wood is awarded a $10,000 scholarship. Her talent was contemporary dance and her platform is You Belong.
The 51 contestants, who represented all 50 states and the District of Columbia, participated in preliminary competitions earlier in the week. Miss Illinois, Abby Foster, was the winner of “America’s Choice,” an online competition where viewers were given the opportunity to vote for their favorite Miss America contestant entirely on social media. The winner of “America’s Choice” advanced to the Top 15 in the competition.
Miss Connecticut Eliza Kanner did not make the top 15.