ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) — Political civility, arts education and even why pro athletes are more than just fantasy team components have been among the topics tackled by Miss America hopefuls this week during preliminary competition.
The third night of the Miss America competition was to begin Friday evening, with contestants having one last chance to impress the judges and score points before Sunday's nationally televised finale in Atlantic City.
Over the first two nights, contestants used their onstage interviews to promote causes that are important to them.
Miss Wisconsin McKenna Collins said Americans of differing political stripes need to speak civilly with each other, even though they don't agree on the issues. She said she has a meeting scheduled with U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan, a Republican and fellow Wisconsinite, later this month to discuss the topic.
"I'm hoping I'll be having that meeting as Miss America because I really believe it's the first thing we should be talking about as a country," she said.
Miss Tennessee Caty Davis recounted how her family has had three generations of addiction and how her father took his own life after abusing alcohol and opioids. She urged families to lock their medicine cabinets or securely store prescription drugs.
"Addiction is not a choice or a moral failing," she said. "It is a disease that alters brain chemistry. Don't be an accidental drug dealer; lock up your prescription drugs."
Miss Pennsylvania Katie Schreckengast promoted adoption by recounting how she was adopted from South Korea as an infant.
"My incredible parents raised me to see my story as unique and wonderful," she said.
And Miss Ohio Sarah Clapper said when a professional athlete is injured, the public should care about athletes as human beings, not just as components of a fantasy sports team.
"Their life could be changing forever, and we need to support them through that transition," she said.
Miss Texas Margana Wood won the swimsuit competition on Wednesday, and Miss Utah JessiKate Riley won the talent portion with a classical violin performance on a 115-year-old instrument she has named Sam.
Miss Louisiana Laryssa Bonacquisti won the swimsuit competition Thursday, while Miss Minnesota Brianna Drevlow won the talent portion, playing "Rhapsody in Blue" on the piano.
On Saturday, contestants will show off their state-specific footwear in the annual Show Us Your Shoes parade on the Atlantic City Boardwalk.
In Sunday's finale the contestants will be vying to succeed the outgoing Miss America, Savvy Shields, who won the crown last year as Miss Arkansas.