In case it wasn’t clear already, Miss America won’t hesitate to speak her mind. And neither will the contestants competing to wear the crown next. This became evident when Miss West Virginia, Madeline Collins, called out President Donald Trump during the final night of the competition preliminaries in Atlantic City.
For the on-stage question portion of the evening, Collins was asked what she felt was the most serious issue facing the nation. “Donald Trump is the biggest issue our country faces. Unfortunately he has caused a lot of division in our country,” Collins responded according to the Associated Press.
Since contestants only get 20 seconds to answer, Collins was unable to expand on her comment. Though, if you’ve been following the news since Trump took office, then you know exactly what she means, whether or not you agree.
Her bold stance is interesting, given she’s representing a state that Trump won in the 2016 presidential election. Nonetheless, the onlooking crowd at Boardwalk Hall cheered and applauded following Collins’s response, according to local news outlets.
Collins is one of 51 women competing for the 2019 title and is currently a graduate student studying social work at Columbia University.
Since preliminary rounds are closed to the general public, viewers won’t see her comments when the Miss America pageant finale airs. Although, given that on-stage questions typically address a wide spectrum of issues, it wouldn't be a total surprise if another contestant shares a similar, or opposing, sentiment.
The 2019 competition closes out a rocky year for the Miss America Organization, which recently came under fire when current title holder, Cara Mund, spoke out against it. In an open letter posted to her Facebook page, Mund wrote that she felt disrespected and belittled over the course of her term. She also called the organization’s recent feminist rebranding a cover up for how little they actually care about helping women.
Chair of the Miss America Organization and former title holder herself, Gretchen Carlson, denied Mund’s claims. “It is disappointing that she chose to air her grievances publicly not privately. Her letter contains mischaracterizations and many unfounded accusations. We are reaching out to her privately to address her concerns. The Miss America Organization supports Cara,” the organization said, according to USA Today.
The 2019 Miss America competition will air live on ABC, Sunday, September 9 at 9 p.m. ET.