Miss America preliminary winners: Who’s won what so far and why?

Miss America Preliminary Winners
Miss America preliminary winners Holli Conway, left, and Emili McPhail, right, with last year’s winner Cara Mund. Pic credit: Miss America Organization

Miss America has begun the journey to find Miss America 2019, and the first preliminary awards have been handed out.

This year marks a new journey for the pageant. With the growing focus on talent and more criticism about judging women on their physical looks, the historic swimsuit award will not be handed out during this year’s Miss America.

The award was discontinued prior to the competition beginning, and was replaced with the state titleholders participating in interactive interview sessions which are judged live.

This new challenge aims to highlight the contestants’ achievements and goals in life, and sees the women share how they plan on using their talents, passion, and ambitions outside of the Miss America pageant if they are crowned the winner.

Four Miss America preliminary awards have already been given out, including two on-stage interview awards and two talent awards. Here are the winners thus far:

Preliminary on-stage interview award winners: Emili McPhail and Tianna Vanderhei

Emili Elizabeth McPhail
Emili Elizabeth McPhail. Pic credit: Yachin Parham/Miss America Organization

Emili McPhail is representing Virginia during this year’s Miss America pageant and during her interview she was asked about the controversial topic of kneeling during the national anthem.

The judge asked her what advice she would give to NFL players and others who contemplated whether or not they should kneel.

Emili said that not standing during the anthem was a personal right that you have. But she also highlighted how kneeling isn’t about kneeling; but rather about addressing topics like police brutality.

Tianna Vanderhei
Tianna Vanderhei. Pic credit: Yachin Parham/Miss America Organization

Tianna Vanderhei is the other contestant to take home a preliminary on-stage interview award.

Miss Wisconsin won the award for her answer about higher education, saying that she believed that higher education should be more affordable and more widely accessible to citizens of the United States.

Preliminary talent award: Holli Conway and Taylor Tyson

Holli Conway
Holli Conway. Pic credit: @Yachin Parham/Miss America Organization

When it comes to the preliminary talent award, Holli Conway from Louisiana took home the award for her vocal ability.

In the talent competition, she won for a vocal performance, singing “I Believe.” She appears to be one of the contestants to keep an eye out for.

Taylor Tyson
Taylor Tyson. Pic credit: Yachin Parham/Miss America Organization

Miss Florida Taylor Tyson took home the other preliminary talent award.

A talented classical pianist, Tyson won the talent competition for her piano rendition of “Mephisto’s Waltz” by Lizst.

Will you be watching Miss America this weekend, and what are your thoughts on the swimsuit award being eliminated?

More Miss America preliminary winners will be revealed today. The 2019 Miss America Competition finals air live on Sunday, September 9, at 9/8c on ABC.

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