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(The state Casino Reinvestment Development Authority is supporting the pageant with .5 million in subsidies through 2018.) But ratings for the ABC program have been iffy, paling in comparison to the 27 million viewers who tuned in for the first televised pageant in 1954, when Miss America was a Super Bowl-caliber event before there was a Super Bowl.

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She seemed destined to sail into the final round, but faltered on the new "personality question." is totally overrated." Bonacquisti seemed at a loss. Other winners of preliminary awards were Miss Minnesota, Brianna Drevlow, 23, a pianist who won the talent category for her performance of "Rhapsody in Blue"; Miss Texas, Margana Wood, 22, a Houston local who found herself talking about Hurricane Harvey all week and won swimsuit; Miss Florida, Sara Zeng, 22, who also won swimsuit as her state braced for Hurricane Irma; and Miss Utah, Jessi Kate Riley, 20, who wowed with her violin, performing "Praeludium and Allegro" by Fritz Kreisler to snag a talent award.She said the statues shouldn't be destroyed, but moved (like to a museum), since they're "part of history." The other Jersey contestant was Miss Delaware, Chelsea Bruce, 21, a senior political science and economics major at the University of Delaware, who hails from Manasquan and had dance as her talent, but did not make the top 15.During preliminary competition earlier in the week, Miss Louisiana, Laryssa Bonacquisti, 22 -- whose mother is Miss New Jersey 1990, Lynette Falls Bonacquisti -- became a favorite after winning awards for both swimsuit and talent.She says the last Ivy League student to win Miss America was the University of Pennsylvania's Evelyn Ay Sempier, who wore the 1954 crown.(Erika Harold, Miss America 2003, graduated from Harvard Law School after her reign.) "We live in a very credential-driven society," said Levey Friedman, whose own mother, Pamela Eldred, was Miss America 1970.

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