Miss America 2023 winner, Miss Wisconsin Grace Stank, reflects on her shocking win: ‘Just an absolute mess’
Miss Wisconsin Grace Stank, a nuclear engineering student, has been crowned Miss America 2023.
The ceremony took place Thursday night at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut. Miss New York Taryn Delaney Smith was crowned first runner-up and Miss Texas Avery Bishop second runner-up.
“[It was] Just an absolute mess,” the Wausau native told Fox News Digital about hearing her state’s name. [were] No thoughts, just screams and excitement. And then after that, it kind of sank in a little bit because I still think it didn’t quite sink in… It’s such an honor to be the representative of those… amazing women who stood on that platform. “
“Each of these women is doing something powerful in their community,” said the 20-year-old. “Some will go on to become trauma surgeons, some are attorneys, and some are making a huge difference in their communities. Being selected as Miss America 2023 is just such an honor.”
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The top 10 finalists were 10 women chosen by the judges and one chosen by America’s vote. They included Miss Nevada Heather Renner, Miss Hawaii Lorraine Tiro, Miss Oregon Sophia Takla, Miss Ohio Elizabeth Ness, Miss Indiana Elizabeth Hallal and Miss Illinois Monica Mia Jones, who were chosen by voters as the eleventh contestant to make the cut.
Stanke succeeds Emma Broyles, the first Miss Alaska contestant to win the Miss America title in the pageant’s 100-year history. Along with the crown, Stanke was awarded a $50,000 cash grant, in addition to the $2,500 scholarship she received as a preliminary talent winner for her classical violin performance.
“I got my start on Miss America’s Outstanding Teen when I was 13,” Stank explained. “I was a violinist and had just started competing in local violin competitions. At that time, I was shaking, I forgot about my music – in general, everything that could go wrong has gone wrong. Other ways to improve my performance abilities. And I found Miss America’s Outstanding Organization Teen, which houses the talent part of the competition. And I also learned interviewing skills. I made friends for life, got a scholarship and can continue with the organization… And now here I am, Miss America 2023!”
Stanke, a student at the University of Wisconsin, impressed the judging panel with her classical violin skills. She played “The Tempest” from Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons”. Stanke revealed that she was keen to follow in her sister’s musical footsteps.
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“The thing I had as a kid was that I did gymnastics, but then I dropped out of second grade when I was eight,” she said. “Then my parents encouraged us to take up a hobby because at the same time my sister and I both quit doing gymnastics. So she chose the viola, which is an orchestral instrument…and my brother was playing the trombone at the time…either the flute or the violin. Of course, my sister followed because I was in I’m 8. And that’s really how I got started with the violin… As I continued to grow and learn more about it, I loved learning how to play a classical instrument with a modern twist and making some really cool music.”
Stank continued, “I always thought the violin would only be Vivaldi or Beethoven, like all those classical pieces.” “But I’ve also played ‘Thunderstruck’ by AC/DC and I’ve played Michael Jackson’s ‘Smooth Criminal’. I’ve played so many fun pieces on the fiddle that it shows the incredible power of the arts.”
The charismatic pageant was born out of the Atlantic City beauty pageant in 1921, just a year after women were granted the right to vote. The organizers and enthusiasts of the loyal Miss America assure that the annual ritual is here to stay and will continue to change with time. Many of the participants say the organization—a major provider of scholarship assistance to young women—has transformed their lives, opening doors for them both professionally and personally.
Stanke realizes that many critics insist the competition is outdated. However, she noted that the show, more than its sibling, celebrates leadership and talent.
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“I would say as a nuclear engineer…someone is here to make a difference, is every one of those 51 women standing on that podium there just to compete in a beauty pageant? No, we’re here to change the world. We’re here to be the best version of ourselves we can be.” Being her. Miss America helped shape me into who I am today. And I’m sure many, if not all, women at that point would say the same thing.”
Stank said the competition makes her prouder to be an American.
“I’m just proud of the amount of support and creativity that comes from the American people,” she said. “The amount of unified feeling we get is really cool… Miss America is an opportunity to talk to people all over the country. And it’s something everyone can get behind. And that’s what’s really cool about America.”
In the new year, Stanke wants to use its platform to raise awareness of clean energy.
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“Right now, America is transitioning to zero-carbon energy for a number of reasons,” Stank explained. “First, climate change is a real, scientifically proven thing that we need to start addressing as one of the leading carbon emitters in the world. But then also right now, the world is running out of fossil fuels. That’s just an unavoidable fact. So we need to start In finding other options for electricity as the population continues to grow.So, transitioning to zero-carbon energy is going to be critical.I’m excited to talk about…all these different types of energy choices we have and how our homes can help make a difference to the scientist “.
Stanky is also eager to share her love of the Midwest as she sets out to travel across the country.
“The ‘Beautiful Midwest’ is so real,” she said. “That’s something I love about my state. One thing I’m excited to bring to the Miss America job as I travel across the country is to share a little bit of Wisconsin culture, and just say, ‘Hey, let me keep the door open for you. Little things can make…a day’.” Someone. It’s just a piece of Wisconsin that I love.”
“I will give 100 percent of myself,” she added. “That’s the most important thing. My family and friends know that too. I’m Miss America, but I’m also just me.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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