Where Are They Now? Miss America Winners from the Past 15 Years
Perfect your pageant wave for this Miss America update.
The first Miss America pageant kicked off way back in 1921 on the iconic Atlantic City boardwalk. The first woman to wear the crown was Margaret Gorman, who qualified for the competition after winning the “Inter-City Beauty Contest,” according to MissAmerica.org. Since then the title has become more and more coveted amongst talented young women all vying to take home the top prize. Check out the latest on Miss America winners from the past 15 years.
In 2004, Ericka Dunlap, then Miss Florida, took home the Miss America crown. Today Dunlap still resides in the Sunshine State where she’s the CEO of Crown Communication Group, described as a public relations and diversity consulting firm. In an interview with Black Enterprise, she reflects on her time as Miss America, saying, “As a 21-year-old beauty queen, I had no idea about the grand-scheme significance of my platform, and what it was going to do for people. I wanted people to have the confidence to be their authentic selves at work and be valued for the vital perspective they brought to work environments. People just needed to feel comfortable at work.”
Deidre Downs Gunn
Crowned Miss America in 2005, Deidre Downs Gunn married her girlfriend Abbott Jones in 2018 in a lavish Southern wedding. Downs Gunn works as an OB/GYN in her home state of Alabama, according to People, focusing on reproductive endocrinology and infertility. She has a 9-year-old son. Here’s how much the Miss America pageant has changed throughout the years.
Back in 2006, Miss Oklahoma Jennifer Berry was crowned Miss America. She has largely led a private life since handing over the crown to her successor Lauren Nelson. In 2007, she married her husband Nathan Gooden. Together they have four children. Berry is still involved in the pageant scene; when Miss America announced they were doing away with the swimsuit round in 2018, she shared her thoughts in an interview with Tulsa’s News on 6. “Now, we’re going to move forward and America is going to get to see the real, true reason why most of the young ladies enter local pageants and dream of becoming Miss America,” says Berry.
For a second consecutive year, a Miss Oklahoma took home the national title when, in 2007, the crown went to Lauren Nelson. She has worked as the co-host of Discover Oklahoma since 2017, starting with the show as a reporter prior to that. Nelson is married to her husband Randy, with whom she shares two children—Mason and Dawson. Find out the differences between Miss America and Miss USA.
Miss Michigan Kirsten Haglund landed the Miss America crown in 2008. According to her personal website, she currently works as a communications consultant and digital media strategist while residing in Zurich, Switzerland. Her own non-profit, the Kirsten Haglund Foundation, works to support families battling eating disorders. Haglund herself admits she was anorexic as a young girl while studying ballet.
Crowned Miss America in 2009, Indiana’s Katie Stam is now a wife, mother, and self-proclaimed entrepreneur. Recently she published Merely Moving Shadows, a ten-week devotional guide in which Stam, who is steadfast in her faith, discusses the merits of applying biblical principles to the every day for an enriching life.
It was in 2010 that Miss Virginia Caressa Cameron went on to become Miss America. Today, Cameron is a wedding planner as well as an HIV/AIDS activist, according to her Twitter account. Married to Nat Jackson, the couple is currently pregnant with their second child and due in May 2020. This is what Miss USA looked like the year you were born.
Among the youngest competitors to ever be crowned Miss America, Teresa Scanlan was just 17 when she won the title in 2011. Today Scanlan is a law student at Berkeley Law. In a 2018 interview with Berkeley News, she said, “I was never the girl who wanted to be a princess when I grew up. I never had any other plans except that I wanted to be an attorney, a judge, a Supreme Court Justice. In that order. That was my career plan all the way through.” Get inspired by these 57 female firsts.
Life has taken a more dramatic turn for 2012 Miss America Laura Kaeppeler, who married television producer Mike Fleiss (of Bachelor fame) in 2014. The couple divorced in 2019 reaching a $10M settlement, according to People. Kaeppeler and Fleiss share one child together—a son named Benjamin. She currently resides in Hawaii. Check out these vintage photos from the Miss Universe pageant.
Mallory Hagan won the Miss America title in 2013 and since then has set her sights on political aspirations. She ran for an Alabama House seat in 2018, going head to head with current Representative Mike Rogers, who ultimately defeated her despite a close race, according to the Associated Press.
When Nina Davuluri won Miss America in 2014, she became the first Indian-American woman to do so. She hosted the television show Made In America and is an advocate for diversity, inclusion, and assimilation through her social media campaign Circles of Unity. She lives in New York with her adorable dog Dobby.
In 2015, Kira Kazantsev made her home state of New York proud when she scored the national crown. Now residing in San Francisco and married with the last name of Dixon, the pageant queen works as a motivational speaker and Golf Channel television host. Not surprisingly, she also considers herself quite the golf enthusiast as well.
Top honors in 2016 when to Miss Georgia Betty Cantrell. In 2018 she married her now-husband Spencer Maxwell and in 2019, she published a book titled Miss Unlikely: From Farm Girl to Miss America detailing her road to becoming a pageant queen. A country singer, she aims to motivate others to chase their dreams with the inspirational tome.
Miss America 2017 Savvy Shields blogs at her website Savvy Collectives where she also sells her own art. In 2018 she married her husband Nate Wolfe in a lavish wedding in Bentonville, Arkansas (Shields was Miss Arkansas before gaining the national title) in front of approximately 250 guests.
After publicly criticizing the way she was treated by Miss America organization head honchos during her reigning year in 2018, Cara Mund is now officially a law student. It’s not surprising this is her chosen career path as Mund has made it very clear that she isn’t afraid to fight for justice, particularly when she felt bullied during her year as Miss America. “It only takes one voice, at the right pitch, to start an avalanche. This is only the beginning,” she tweeted. Now, find out about some more incredible women you never learned about in history class.