Miss America 2017 is: Miss Arkansas Savvy Shields

(USA Today)--Miss Arkansas Savvy Shields has claimed the title of 2017's Miss America.

Shields, 21, beat the competition's 51 other contestants to win the title, succeeding the outgoing Miss America Betty Cantrell.

Shields took home the crown with a jazz routine during the talent portion, which won her the preliminary talent competition earlier in the week.

During the question and answer portion, she was asked about Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.

"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," Shields said. "Both of the contestants have done a good job, but they also need to watch what they're doing."

After her run as Miss America, Shields, 21, will return to the University of Arkansas as a senior studying art. “I want to hopefully work in a museum and teach at a collegiate level,” she said about her plans for the future.

Miss South Carolina Rachel Wyatt was the night's first runner-up.

The second runner-up was Miss New York Camille Sims. The third runner-up was Miss Washington Alicia Cooper, and the fourth runner-up was Miss Mississippi Laura Lee Lewis.

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

During a press conference after the ceremony, Shields thanked her family and fans, using a question about her Q&A portion to expand on her views about America's political climate.

"Our country was founded on compromise," she said. "I really think we're in a state now where both parties seem to just be yelling at each other. I hope that by the end of my year, we're starting to reward politicians on compromising instead of just defending themselves.

Afterwards, the night's celebrity judges including Mark Cuban, Gabby Douglas and Ciara praised Shields and congratulated her on her win.

"I have two daughters...I think its important for them to have role models who are confident and savvy," Cuban said, as the crowd laughed.

Ciara urged Shields to savor her big night.

"It's awesome as a woman to see you get this moment," she said. "I just encourage you to enjoy this moment, because when great things like this happen, they can sometimes pass you by."

 


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