Miss America makes history, as Korean American from Alaska wins title: NPR

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Miss Alaska Emma Broyles, center, reacts after being crowned Miss America.

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Miss Alaska Emma Broyles, center, reacts after being crowned Miss America.

Jessica Hill / AP

ANCHORAGE, Alaska – The new Miss America has made history, becoming both the first Korean American and the first Alaskan to hold the title in the competition’s 100-year history.

“I could never have imagined in a million years that I would be Miss America, let alone be Miss Alaska,” beaming Emma Broyles told The Associated Press Friday on a Zoom call from the Connecticut, where she won the contest over 12 hours earlier.

In fact, she was sure they were wrong. The last two contestants were Broyles and Lauren Bradford, Miss Alabama, and Broyles said she thinks Bradford is going to make an incredible Miss America.

“And then they said Alaska, and I said, ‘No way. Are you sure ? Would you like to check this map again? She said before the emotion overwhelmed her and she started to cry tears of joy.

“I couldn’t believe it,” Broyles said. “I am so, so grateful to everyone who has stayed home who has supported me for so long, and I am so happy to be able to bring home the title of Miss America to Alaskan State for the first time ever. the story. .”

The very first Miss America program began in 1921 as a beauty pageant in Atlantic City, New Jersey. However, Broyles is only the 94th Miss America.

The competition, which has evolved away from the focus on looks to focus on leadership, talent and communication skills, did not take place last year due to the pandemic, and it did not take place for several years in the late 1920s and early 1930s.

Broyles, 20, said his grandparents immigrated to Anchorage from Korea about 50 years ago, before his mother was born.

“Although my mom is a full Korean, she was born and raised in Anchorage, Alaska,” Broyles said.

The Miss America organization “considers Emma the first Korean-American to win the crown,” spokesman Matt Ciesluk said in a text message to the AP.

His mother is a special education teacher at Service High School in Anchorage, the same school Broyles attended.

Miss Alaska Emma Broyles says she was shocked to hear her name announced as the winner of the Miss America pageant. To the right is the finalist, Miss Alabama Lauren Bradford.

Jessica Hill / AP


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Miss Alaska Emma Broyles says she was shocked to hear her name announced as the winner of the Miss America pageant. To the right is the finalist, Miss Alabama Lauren Bradford.

Jessica Hill / AP

Broyles chose Special Olympics for its social impact initiative. Besides his mother’s job, his older brother, Brendan, has Down syndrome and competes in sporting events with Special Olympics Alaska.

“I saw first-hand the impact of the Special Olympics on the families of people with intellectual disabilities. And I know how important the Special Olympics is to our community here in Anchorage and here in Alaska, as well as communities across the country and around the world, ”she said.

Broyles said she looks forward to working with Special Olympics to promote inclusion, compassion and openness through sport.

“To have this platform to explain why inclusion is important in times like this when our country is so divided, and to explain why it is important to be compassionate, why it is important to be empathetic , why it is important to stay open-minded and be ready to listen to those who are not like you or who maybe have different opinions from yours, I think this is a time when we have more than ever need, ”she said.

Broyles winning the Miss America title wasn’t the first barrier broken by an Alaskan woman this year. Last summer, teenage Lydia Jacoby of Seward, Alaska, came out of nowhere to win the women’s 100-meter breaststroke at the Tokyo Olympics.. She became the first Alaska to qualify for the Olympic Swimming Games, let alone win gold.

“I think it’s incredibly cool that the women of Alaska represent Alaska, represent our home state so well, and get the recognition that I think we deserve,” Broyles said.

In addition to her title, Broyles won just over $ 100,000 in college scholarships, what she calls a “life-changing amount of money.”

She is currently a student at Arizona State University studying biomedical sciences and vocal performance and said the scholarship money would allow her to go to medical school.

But for the next year, she will travel about 20,000 miles (32,187 kilometers) each month, serving as a role model and advocate for young women, the Miss America organization said in a statement.

Broyles’ future plans include becoming a dermatologist and returning to Alaska to practice.

“There’s just something special about Anchorage, which is why I know I want to spend the rest of my life in Anchorage, even despite this little break that I’m taking,” she said.


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