1st gay Miss America contestant eliminated from competition

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) — The first openly gay contestant in the Miss America pageant was eliminated Sunday night when the top 15 finalists were chosen.

Miss Missouri Erin O'Flaherty was not among the top 15 picked to advance in the pageant during its nationally televised finale.

She was the first openly gay contestant to win a state title.

Djuan Trent competed in the Miss America pageant as Miss Kentucky in 2011, when she finished in the top 10. She came out as a lesbian in 2014.

The top 15 finalists were: Kentucky; Washington; Massachusetts; Arkansas; South Carolina; Idaho; Iowa; Texas; California; Oklahoma; Maryland; New York; Tennessee; Louisiana, and Mississippi.

The pageant from Atlantic City's Boardwalk Hall included contestants from all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.

One of them will have their lives changed forever, and receive a $50,000 scholarship.

"It's such an honor to be able to walk on that stage and be recognized for doing something I love," said Miss Tennessee Grace Burgess after winning the first night's preliminary talent contest by singing The Eagles' hit "Desperado."

She is one of six contestants who improved their chances for the finale by winning preliminary contests. Miss District of Columbia Cierra Jackson won the first night swimsuit competition.

On the second night, Miss Arkansas Savvy Shields won the talent competition with a jazz dance to a song from the TV show "Smash," and Miss Maryland Hannah Brewer won the swimsuit competition.

On the final night of preliminaries, Miss Michigan Arianna Quan won the talent portion by playing a piano composition, and Miss Ohio Alice Magoto won the swimsuit competition.

The outgoing Miss America, Betty Cantrell, will place the crown on the head of her successor Sunday night. The finale comes a day after the traditional "Show Us Your Shoes" parade in which the contestants ride in vehicles along the Boardwalk while showing off state-specific footwear.

The pageant began in Atlantic City in 1921 as a way to extend the summer tourist season beyond Labor Day weekend.

Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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