Instead of highlighting her achievements, one Miss America contestant introduced herself at Sunday’s pageant by bringing attention to the water crisis facing her state.
“From the state with 84% of the United States’ fresh water but none for its residents to drink, I am Miss Michigan Emily Sioma,” she said.
The introduction was a nod to Flint, Michigan, where cost-cutting measures led to tainted drinking water that contained lead and other toxins.
Sioma received kudos on social media for using her platform to raise awareness of the problem in her home state.
“The new #missamerica2019 pageant did not come to play,” tweeted @maybealexislost, along with a clip of the footage, which was broadcast live on ABC from Atlantic City, New Jersey.
“Miss Michigan should automatically win #MissAmerica for starting with this! #Home #GoGirl,” posted @JSchipperWDRB.
“Emily Sioma, @MissAmericaMI wanted to make an impact. Regardless of whether you agree with what she said or not, she is shining light on a pressing issue that we have in our state that and that is STILL not solved. THAT, is a Miss America,” tweeted @brooklynn_kayy
Miss America underwent a series of changes in the last year intended to transform it from a beauty pageant to a platform for empowering young women. Notably, the swimsuit competition was dropped from the event.
According to Sioma’s biography on the Miss America website, she is from Grass Lake, Michigan and has a degree in Women’s Studies from the University of Michigan.
“Miss America empowered me to: be proud, confident, and unapologetically myself,” Sioma is quoted as saying on the website.
Miss New York, Nia Franklin, was crowned the 92nd Miss America.