Chris Harrison said it himself. 8,000 women started this process. 52 women made it to the Miss America stage. One woman walked away with the crown and a $50,000 scholarship. There she is... your Miss America 2017 is Savvy Shields!
The 21-year-old from Arkansas became the 96th Miss America tonight. During the competition, Shields sported a black Irene West swimsuit and an elegant black evening gown. For the talent portion, she performed a jazz dance to a song from the TV show “Smash”. The same talent performance won her a preliminary talent award earlier in the week.
For the onstage question portion of the competition, Shields was asked about her view on presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton. She responded by commenting that she believes both candidates have done a great job in competing, but they also need to watch what they are doing before her time expired.
During her year of service, Savvy will promote the platform “Eat Better, Live Better.” After winning the title of Miss Arkansas, she commented that her state was one of the most obese states in the country. She plans to educate and promote healthier lifestyles with her platform.
Two women walked away as preliminary winners during the first night of the Miss America competition. Miss Tennessee 2016, Grace Burgess, was named the preliminary talent recipient, and Miss District of Columbia 2016, Cierra Jackson, took home the lifestyle and fitness award.
Grace Burgess, a vocalist, performed the song "Desperado." She had previously been a dancer for 17 years, but has always loved singing and decided to give it a try as her talent. Her decision paid off as she won the talent award and a $2,000 scholarship.
Cierra Jackson, Miss D.C., won a $1,000 scholarship with her preliminary win. She says the key to her win was confidence, consistent workouts, and learning to "strut her stuff" at a young age.
To watch the full interview with Tuesday night's winners, click here.
On Wednesday night, two more young ladies became preliminary competition winners. Miss Arkansas, Savvy Shields, won talent. The lifestyle and fitness recipient was Hannah Brewer, Miss Maryland.
Savvy Shields performed a jazz number to a song from the TV show "Smash." She has been dancing since the age of three. She hoped that her talent piece would allow the judges and audience to have as much fun watching her as she does performing. Shields was also awarded a $2,000 scholarship.
Hannah Brewer, Miss Maryland and preliminary swimsuit winner, said the key to her swimsuit physique was having a moderate preparation. She even admits to eating cake the day before leaving for Miss America. She enjoys mixing up her workouts to include yoga, pilates, hiking and even cross fit. Brewer earned a $1,000 scholarship with the win.
To watch the full interview with Wednesday night's winners, click here.
On the final night of preliminary competition, Miss Michigan was named the talent winner, and Miss Ohio won the lifestyle and fitness award.
Arianna Quan, Miss Michigan, performed a piano composition of “The Lark”. She began playing piano on her 9th birthday, and it quickly became a passion of hers. Practicing 6-8 hours a day when she was younger allowed her to become a preliminary winner and earned her a $2,000 scholarship.
Miss Ohio, Alice Magoto, was known for being the youngest contestant at Miss America this year. She is also known for being named a lifestyle and fitness winner and earning a $1,000 scholarship. She says the key to her swimsuit body is lifting weights to define her muscles and avoiding dieting.
To watch the full interview with Thursday night’s winners click here.
Miss America 2017 Talent Review
10. Miss Maryland 2016, Hannah Brewer, Vocal
Hannah sang "God Bless America" on the anniversary of 9/11. It could have worked very well. Unfortunately, it became obvious that she's no Betty. Maybe it was the nerves or the fact there was literally zero warm-up time for the singers or that contestants have 10 seconds to go from their names being called to performing. However, her notes were off and the big, powerful moment she shot for failed to resonate.
9. Miss California 2016, Jessa Carmack, Acro Dance
Given that this is a very nontraditional talent to hit the stage, Jessa was at an extreme disadvantage. Tumbling on a stage is very difficult and she just couldn't get the height. Her leaps and turns seemed very tight after two weeks of long days in heels. Her dance technique wasn't as strong as her gymnastics and it showed. There is no doubt the adrenaline and lack of warm up played a role here. But, major kudos for going out of the box on such a big stage and in front of Gabby Douglas.
8. Miss Washington 2016, Alicia Cooper, Tap Dance
Of all the dance styles, tap seems to be one of the hardest to communicate on the MAO stage. For some reason, it never comes off graceful and looks more clunky. Alicia had a few moments that juxtaposed the heaviness of tap, but I would love to see a tap dancer revert back to the old days of Ginger Rogers and tap in heels. The heels elongate the legs; just look at the Rockettes, and you automatically appear more graceful simply by eliminating a heavy, often black, shoe. I've searched all over the internet and cannot find a video of Alicia's talent during finals or prelims to re-watch it. My apologies for the ranking if it was better than I remember.
7. Miss Texas 2016, Caroline Carothers, Baton Twirling
Oh, Caroline, I was so looking forward to seeing a baton twirler. Way to make it to the Top 10 with such an unappreciated and often mocked talent. We've seen a few baton twirlers in recent years and MAO this year had quite a few, so way to represent. However, the song choice killed it here. There is no way to perform to that song without it coming off cheesy. It honestly would have been more entertaining if we had we seen her spin the three baseball bats as it said in the info tab at the bottom of the screen. It just didn't resonate. Props for recovering from the drop, though.
6. Miss Iowa 2016, Kelly Koch, Ballet en Pointe
Her song choice played a big role in making this entertaining. Everyone loves "Pirates of the Caribbean". The problem? Her dance didn't have the power that the song has. Her choreography also had a similar move throughout and her leaps and balance moves seemed tight. Again, this is very much due to lack of warm-up time prior to performing on the stage. She had great musicality, though, and her choreography went well with the music. She had a big smile on her face, but it came off a bit nervous at times.
5. Miss Mississippi 2016, Laura Lee Lewis, Vocal
Laura's dress was a great color for the song "A Piece of Sky". However, it was a blue version of Miss Oklahoma's dress from last year. It's not fun to see an iconic dress again, even in a different color (and this happened a few times this year between MAO and MUO). Laura was plagued by the same troubles as the other singers: no warm-up time. She was unable to hit her low notes and it took a bit off from the performance. The rest of her performance actually wasn't bad, but it was very similar to a lot of MAO Barbra Streisand renditions.
4. Miss New York 2016, Camille Sims, Jazz Vocal
At first watch, I didn't like this, but the second viewing I actually liked it. I loved that she sang in a different language and did so comfortably. What would have put this over the top was if she had limited her motions to very subtle movements and used a stationary microphone. She was walking about the stage and it was distracting. She also didn't hit the notes as low as they could have been to really give the song an edge. It was entertaining, but it also seemed kind of hit-and-run-ish the way she bolted across the stage during the performance.
3. Miss Tennessee 2016, Grace Burgess, Vocal
Grace performed an arrangement of "Desperado" that her Uncle helped her with. Unfortunately, he passed away and yet, she still performed it. This song, if done well, can be a total hit and there are lots of ways to arrange it. The arrangement and Grace's voice were really good; however, her choreography to it was a little awkward. Add in the gown (Deshauna's from Miss USA) and it came off a tad 1980's Grand Ole Opry. Her notes struggled a bit, but it wasn't too distracting. She did win Preliminary Talent earlier in the week. Do yourself a favor, if you totally hated this performance at first, re-watch it, but just listen to it, don't actually watch her. Suddenly, she sounds like a cross between Sara Bareilles and Martina McBride when you aren't distracted by her movements.
2. Miss America 2017, Savvy Shields, Jazz Dance
Savvy's bubbly performance to "They Just Keep Moving the Line" from Smash was entertaining and energetic. I went back and forth between first and second here, but Savvy definitely had a lot of adrenaline and it came off just a tiny bit erratic. Her Marilyn Monroe-esq spunk in the performance no doubt sealed the deal with the judges. Prior to performing, she was interviewed by host Sage Steele and you could tell she was genuinely excited about the prospect of performing her talent and that she would be happy no matter the outcome. Savvy won Preliminary Talent earlier in the week before winning Miss America 2017 on Sunday night.
1. Miss South Carolina 2016, Rachel Wyatt, Dance
achel's dance to "Something in the Water" by Carrie Underwood was expressive and entertaining. It was technically sound and she had more power in her leaps than any of the other dancers on finals night. She had clean lines as a result, which made for a beautiful number to watch. We've discussed it before, if technique or entertainment value matters more, and it's a combination. If you aren't technically sound, it'll be awkward to watch. But if you have the technique but not the spunk, then it's boring. Rachel had both technique and entertainment. From her fingertips to her toes, she filled the stage, often the camera struggling to stay with her, and she was beautiful and graceful throughout the performance, which was why she made our number one spot on this list.
Top 7 Onstage Questions from Miss America 2017
7. Miss South Carolina 2016, Rachel Wyatt
Question: "The immigration debate rages on: Building a wall along the Mexico border, establishing sanctuary cities, deporting 11 million undocumented people. Do you believe our country has an immigration problem?"
Answer: "You know, we certainly do. And I myself am a quarter Japanese. My great-grandfather is an immigrant, and I think that America really is a nation built on immigrants and so this is an issue that we have to come to a resolution on and be welcoming to others to come into this nation of freedom."
6. Miss Mississippi 2016, Laura Lee Lewis
Question: "Miss America 1989, Gretchen Carlson, just accepted a $20 million settlement from Fox News for her sexual harassment suit against Roger Ailes. Fox paid. Ailes walked. What message does this send?"
Answer: "This sends a message that we have so much further to go with equality in the workforce. Women are just as equal as men in the workforce and I think — it’s 2016, guys. We’ve got to focus on this and have equality in the workforce. And when we start focusing on that, it’s going to be great."
5. Miss Washington 2016, Alicia Cooper
Question: "49ers quarterback, Colin Kaepernick, has ignited a national debate by refusing to stand for the national anthem in protest of racial inequality and police brutality. Do you sit with him or stand against him?"
Answer: "The first thing I want to say is we need to focus on how important the Black Lives Matter issue is; all lives matter in this situation. I don’t necessarily support the fact that he sat out, but I do respect that he took a knee and that people are joining in. Because we need to focus on the resolution to this problem, and we need to come together as a nation to have everyone feel equal in our society."
4. Miss Maryland 2016, Hannah Brewer
Question: "Journalists are calling out Matt Lauer for aggressively grilling Hillary Clinton while letting Donald Trump slide. Others are declaring a liberal media bias. How would you grade the media on their election coverage?"
Answer: "I think it’s been very — I think it’s been very equal to both parties. I think both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton have received a lot of criticism for the way that they’re going about this campaign, and I think it’s absolutely ridiculous. I think that we need to support both of these people. They are trying to make our country a better place and I support them both."
3. Miss New York 2016, Camille Sims
Question: "Donald J. Trump. What do you think of him? You have 20 seconds, go."
Answer: " *laughs* I think that he’s a bright reminder of how our country needs to come together. If you don’t agree with his message, then it’s time to decide where you stand in this debate. As Americans, we need to make sure that we come together, represent what it means to be American — which is celebrating all people from all backgrounds whether you’re an immigrant, or a Native American, or an African American, or an Asian American."
2. Miss Arkansas 2016 (and our Miss America 2017), Savvy Shields
Question: "Hillary Rodham Clinton. What do you think?"
Answer: " *laughs* Sorry, that’s kind of funny. If you’re trying to be leader of the free world, everything you say and do matters, and all of your actions are held to a higher standard. And unfortunately, the media does love to sensationalize everything, and it’s hard to tell what is truth and what is truly scandal. I think going back at what my previous contestant said, both of these contestants have done a great job. Er, both of these candidates have done a great job in competing, but they also need to watch what they’re doing, and - " Tackling the sister question to the one asked to Camille Sims before her, Savvy Shields had a bit of a rough time. She flubbed the word "candidates" (instead calling them contestants) and was cut off by the 20-second time limit.
1. Miss Texas 2016, Caroline Carothers
Question: "This is the 15th anniversary of 9/11. What is one thing the new president should do to protect us?"
Answer: "Yes, 15 years ago today we were attacked, and that is very unfortunate. But one thing that our new president needs to realize is that one thing about being strong with this country is learning when and where to be cautious. And I believe that if our new president understands that and learns that, then we will be in a better place and we’ll be much safer as a nation."