Nina Davuluri, Miss New York, won the Miss America 2014 pageant on Sunday, becoming the first winner of Indian descent, and brushed off negative comments made about her on Twitter, saying she is "so happy" the group behind the annual beauty pageant has "embraced diversity."
The 24-year-old native of Syracuse, New York is the first contestant of Indian descent to win the competition, which began in 1921. She beat 52 other contestants, including Miss California, Crystal Lee, who was the first runner-up, and Miss Oklahoma, Kelsey Griswold. The ceremony took place in Atlantic City, New Jersey, and broadcast live on ABC.
"I'm so happy this organization has embraced diversity," the Associated Press quoted her as saying in a press conference after winning the crown. "I'm thankful there are children watching at home who can finally relate to a new Miss America.
She also responded to racist and other negative comments about her heritage expressed by several people on Twitter (as documented by Buzzfeed), saying: "I have to rise above that. I always viewed myself as first and foremost American."
Davuluri performed a "Classical Bollywood Fusion" dance during the talent portion of the Miss America 2014 pageant. The pageant queen, a graduate of University of Michigan, is also the second consecutive Miss New York to win the title. Last year's winner was Mallory Hagan.
As the winner of the Miss America pageant, Davuluri will receive a $50,000 scholarship provided by the Miss America Organization and Canadian clothing designer Joseph Ribkoff Inc.
During her reign, Davuluri will "travel approximately 20,000 miles each month speaking to audiences about her platform, Celebrating Diversity through Cultural Competency and acting as the official National Goodwill Ambassador for Children's Miracle Network Hospitals," the Miss America Organization said in a statement.
She will also serve as a spokesperson for R.E.I.G.N. Cosmetics, Joseph Ribkoff Inc., Catalina Swimwear and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) and work with the U.S. Department of Education in Washington, D.C.