Ivy League Graduate and Dance Champion Crowned Miss America

September 11, 2017 Updated: September 11, 2017

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J.—An Ivy League graduate and national dance champion from North Dakota was crowned Miss America on Sunday, becoming the first contestant from the state to win the nearly 100-year-old contest.

Cara Mund, from Bismarck, N.D., a graduate of Brown University in Rhode Island, who has been accepted to Notre Dame’s law school, trained for several summers with the world-famous Rockettes.

Mund, 23, was one of 51 contestants in the pageant, representing the 50 United States and the District of Columbia.

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(R) Miss North Dakota Cara Mund reacts after being announced as the winner of the 97th Miss America Competition in Atlantic City, New Jersey, September 10, 2017. (REUTERS/Mark Makela)

 

Epoch Times Photo
Miss North Dakota Cara Mund reacts after being announced as the winner of the Miss America competition in Atlantic City, New Jersey, September 10, 2017. (REUTERS/Mark Makela)

 

Epoch Times Photo
Miss North Dakota Cara Mund reacts after being announced as the winner of the 97th Miss America Competition in Atlantic City, New Jersey, September 10, 2017. (REUTERS/Mark Makela)

 

Epoch Times Photo
Miss North Dakota Cara Mund greets a supporter after being announced as the winner of the Miss America competition in Atlantic City, New Jersey, September 10, 2017. (REUTERS/Mark Makela)

 

Epoch Times Photo
Miss North Dakota Cara Mund reacts after being announced as the winner of the 97th Miss America Competition in Atlantic City, New Jersey, September 10, 2017. (REUTERS/Mark Makela)

 

Epoch Times Photo
Miss North Dakota Cara Mund reacts after being announced as the winner of the 97th Miss America Competition in Atlantic City, New Jersey, September 10, 2017. (REUTERS/Mark Makela)

 

Epoch Times Photo
Fellow contestants wait to congratulate Miss North Dakota Cara Mund who won the Miss America competition in Atlantic City, New Jersey, September 10, 2017. (REUTERS/Mark Makela)

Mund, who adopted the Make-a-Wish Foundation which benefits children with life-threatening conditions as her platform for the competition, performed a jazz dance to “The Way You Make Me Feel” for the contest’s talent portion, wearing a double-breasted black mini-dress with a matching fedora-type hat.

In a question-and-answer session, Mund weighed in on the United States’ recent withdrawal from the Paris climate accord, saying she thought it was a “bad decision.”

“Whether you believe it (climate change) or not, we need to be at that table,” she added.

The first runner-up was Miss Missouri, Jennifer Davis, who competed on a platform of diversity.

She was followed by contestants from New Jersey, Kaitlyn Schoeffel, District of Columbia, Briana Kinsey and Texas, Margana Wood.

 

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Attendees stand for the National Anthem before the 97th Miss America Competition in Atlantic City, New Jersey, September 10, 2017. (REUTERS/Mark Makela)

 

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Miss Texas Margana Wood reacts after advancing from the swimsuit component of the Miss America competition in Atlantic City, New Jersey, September 10, 2017. (REUTERS/Mark Makela)

 

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Contestants compete in during the swimsuit component of the 97th Miss America Competition in Atlantic City, New Jersey, September 10, 2017. (REUTERS/Mark Makela)

 

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Contestants compete in the Miss America competition in Atlantic City, New Jersey, September 10, 2017. (REUTERS/Mark Makela)

 

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Miss North Dakota Cara Mund competes in the evening gown component of the Miss America competition in Atlantic City, New Jersey, September 10, 2017. (REUTERS/Mark Makela)

 

Epoch Times Photo
Miss North Dakota Cara Mund competes in the swimsuit competition of the Miss America competition in Atlantic City, New Jersey, September 10, 2017. (REUTERS/Mark Makela)

 

Epoch Times Photo
Miss North Dakota Cara Mund competes in the talent component of the Miss America competition in Atlantic City, New Jersey, September 10, 2017. (REUTERS/Mark Makela)

 

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Miss Louisiana Laryssa Bonacquisti competes in the talent component of the 97th Miss America Competition in Atlantic City, New Jersey, September 10, 2017. (REUTERS/Mark Makela)

 

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Miss Virginia Cecili Weber competes in the talent component of the 97th Miss America Competition in Atlantic City, New Jersey, September 10, 2017. (REUTERS/Mark Makela)

 

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Miss Texas Margana Wood competes in the swimsuit competition of the 97th Miss America Competition in Atlantic City, New Jersey, September 10, 2017. (REUTERS/Mark Makela)

 

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Miss America’s Outstanding Teen winners embrace before the 97th Miss America Competition in Atlantic City, New Jersey, September 10, 2017. (REUTERS/Mark Makela)

 

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Aeowyn Holmes, 6, Mini Miss Spirit of New York, poses for a portrait before the 97th Miss America Competition in Atlantic City, New Jersey, September 10, 2017. (REUTERS/Mark Makela)

 

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Miss America 1968 Debra Barnes poses for a portrait before the 97th Miss America Competition in Atlantic City, New Jersey, September 10, 2017. (REUTERS/Mark Makela)

 

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A woman looks at a poster of Miss America contestants staying at the Tropicana Casino before the 97th Miss America Competition in Atlantic City, New Jersey, September 10, 2017. (REUTERS/Mark Makela)

The pageant was broadcast live on ABC from Atlantic City, New Jersey. The contest returned to the seaside gambling resort a few years ago after nearly a decade in Las Vegas. It was dropped by ABC in 2004 following a steep rating decline but returned after years on cable.

Judges scored contestants, who ranged from teenagers to the cut-off age of 24, based on talent, the live question segment, a personal interview and appearances in gowns and swimsuits.

Many of the entrants drew on music or dance for the talent portion.

The winner receives a six-figure salary, expenses for the year and a $50,000 scholarship.

By Chris Michaud