Miss Alaska Emma Broyles officially sealed the deal to take home the title (and the stunning crown) on Thursday, Dec. 16.
The first runner up was Miss Alabama Lauren Bradford; the second runner up was Miss Massachusetts Elizabeth Pierre; the third runner up was Miss New York Sydney Park; and the fourth runner up was Miss Oregon Abigail Hayes.
During her onstage interview, Broyles shared, “I want to show people that I am just like everybody else. I think that people tend to put Miss America and Miss America titleholders up on this pedestal.”
She continued, “But one thing that I really try to do, especially as Miss Alaska, is show people that I am real. I have flaws. I have ADHD. I have dermatillomania, which is a form of OCD. I’ve struggled with all of these things and, because of that, I am a better person.”
Broyles spoke about how she “hit rock bottom” during the coronavirus pandemic, saying that being isolated in her college dorm room for “so long” was incredibly “difficult” for her. She eventually realized, “I can be so much more than that,” got her ADHD diagnosis and “finally got everything figured out.”
Now that she has received medication and has been in support groups, she said, “I’ve been able to find my true self.” She wants to tell fans, “A lot of people don’t recognize that their low points are what are going to propel them into their future.”
Fifty women from across the U.S. — all the states and Washington, D.C. were represented except Maine, whose candidate withdrew after testing positive for COVID-19 — competed for the title of Miss America 2022 and the $435,000 scholarship award, including a $100,000 sum that will go directly to the winner.
In honor of the centennial anniversary, former Miss Americas returned as co-hosts and panelists for the final leg of the competition.
“We are excited to have our forever Miss Americas join us as co-hosts and panelists as they truly understand the hard work and commitment that each of these incredible young women have put in over the past year as they prepare for our final night of competition and the official title of Miss America 2022,” Shantel Krebs, the Miss America Organization board chair and interim President and CEO, said in a press statement.
Miss America 2014 Nina Davuluri and Miss America 2004 Ericka Dunlap co-hosted the 100th pageant, while Miss America 2009 Katie Stam Irk, Miss America 2000 Heather French Henry and Miss America 1990 Debbye Turner Bell served as panelists.
Previously, Miss Virginia Camille Schrier was crowned Miss America in 2019, but carried the title for another year due to the COVID-19 cancellation of the 2020 pageant.
This is the third competition since Miss America eliminated the swimsuit portion of the pageant; today, contestants wow judges with a live talent portion, an evening-wear portion and an interview round.
Before being crowned Miss America 2022, Broyles also spoke during the show about her older brother, who has Down syndrome, and her involvement with the Special Olympics ever since he was eligible to be an athlete.
As for her advice to her 12-year-old self, the winner reflected, “Not take life so seriously. Just let loose. Enjoy, because you only live once. That’s my life motto: YOLO.”
2021 Miss America is now streaming on Peacock.
(E! and Peacock are both part of the NBCUniversal family.)