In just three weeks, the Miss America Competition returns to Atlantic City. But fans of the annual event aren’t exactly sure what they will see in September.
While the Miss America Organization has announced the dates for the arrival ceremony on the Boardwalk, the “Show Us Your Shoes Parade” and an autograph session with former Miss Americas, competition details — like the names of the final night’s judges or host, or the format — haven’t been released.
“It’s quite a simple strategy really, it’s called don’t show all your cards at one time and leave a few surprises for the viewer,” said Miss America Organization spokesperson Karl Nilsson, who said those details won’t be released.
“Nothing is being played close to the vest. Your readers can expect to see a terrific live national television broadcast, and we encourage them to tune in on Sept. 9. We’re not going to spoil all the fun,” he said.
But as a decades-long fan of the pageant, Patti Dowling and other fans in online forums and Facebook pages, have had growing concerns that “Miss America 2.0” will be a completely different show from years past.
“I grew up watching Miss America. There was always a crown and the swimsuits. To change that so quickly is kind of mind-boggling,” said Dowling, 60, of the Marmora section of Upper Township.
All summer, online message boards have speculated on how much the talent portion of the competition will be worth, whether the telecast will feature a runway walk, what competitors will be allowed to wear, and if the crown and sash are still a part of Miss America.
“I don’t know what the big secret would be. Everyone always knew the breakdown of the scoring and who the judges were. They (The Miss America Organization) could be using the element of surprise to get interest, they do have that going for them,” Dowling said. “It’s hard to be a fan and not know what’s going on at the highest level.”
Miss America President and CEO Regina Hopper said state pageant directors were given information on this year’s national competition phases and scoring to help state titleholders prepare, but no public announcement has been made.
The Miss America competition previously included five judged categories: the preliminary interview, the onstage question, talent, evening wear and lifestyle and fitness in swimwear.
Over the years, scoring percentages have varied, but this is the first year an entire category has been eliminated.
On the Miss America website, the judging criteria for last year’s competition is still available, and it still details “swimsuit” as being 10 percent of the overall score.
The “lifestyle and fitness in swimsuit” category was also a preliminary award, with each competition night’s top score receiving a $1,000 scholarship, funded by the Miss America Organization.
During an orientation in July, the 51 young women, now called “candidates,” vying for Miss America 2019 were briefed on certain elements of this year’s competition.
“I’m not allowed to give any specific information,” said Miss New Jersey 2018 Jaime Gialloreto, “they want the show to be a surprise.”