Miss America: Tell-Tale Signs from 2007?

Looking back on an interesting interview with the Miss America Organization's head Art McMaster from 2007.

By Donald B. Kravitz
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 3 | Posted Feb. 14, 2013

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Miss Oklahoma, Lauren Nelson, was crowned Miss America 2007 at the Aladdin Resort & Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada, Monday evening, January 29, 2007.

Photo by Donald B. Kravitz

Below are excerpts from an in-depth interview with Art McMaster, president and CEO of the Miss America Organization conducted at the 2007 Miss America Pageant in Las Vegas. The thrust of the interview was not about that pageant, but had to do with the future of Miss America and more importantly, its return to Atlantic City (which was announced officially Thursday, Feb. 14, during a press conference at Boardwalk Hall).


Miss America: Where Is It Now & Where Is it Going?

“Las Vegas is very happy to have the Miss America Pageant; they feel like they have stolen a great property away from Atlantic City,” said Art McMaster, president and CEO of the Miss America Organization.

Miss Oklahoma, Lauren Nelson, was crowned Miss America 2007 at the Aladdin Resort & Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada, Monday evening, Jan. 29. However, this column is not about the new Miss America but about the “Miss America Pageant” and its future.

The pageant began in 1921 as a way of extending the tourist season for Atlantic City and remained a shining star in Atlantic City’s crown until January 2006 when the Miss America Pageant was moved from Atlantic City to Las Vegas.

Since that move, many questions have risen as to why it left Atlantic City and why move to Las Vegas.

Devoted fans wonder what does the future hold for the oldest and most cherished “Pageant” held in America.

Lois Elaine Smith-Zoll, the scholarship chairperson for Miss Washington State said, ”I have been a volunteer with the Miss America Organization for 40 years through the good, bad and indifferent years." 

When asked about her thoughts regarding the pageant and how it is doing and where it is going, she echoed the feelings of so many of the pageant followers. “I miss Atlantic City immensely," she said. "Would I like to see it return there? Yes, immediately. In Atlantic City we always felt welcome and we felt like family. I miss the warm family-like feelings we don’t have here. In Las Vegas we, the people, are just another tourist, not special in any way, unlike Atlantic City where we were made to feel wanted and like we belonged. If I may, can I make one additional observation? I know I am not alone, but I feel so sorry for all of those Miss America volunteers who for all those years gave of themselves and contributed so much to making the Miss America Pageant so successful, what a shame.”

Sally Johnston, executive director of the Miss New Jersey Pageant, reflected back on her involvement with Miss America over the many years.

“Since coming to Las Vegas it seems to me the Pageant has lost its wholesomeness, which always set it apart from the other pageants,” said Johnston.

“Should it be back in Atlantic City where it started, of course, and if allowed to vote, I am sure a majority of the people involved with Miss America would vote a resounding 'Yes!' But then again I am from New Jersey so I am a bit biased.”

According to Johnston, “In Atlantic City we felt like a big fish in a little pond. Everyone, even the surrounding towns looked forward to the Miss America Pageant. Here [in Las Vegas] we are the little fish in a big pond and it seems uncomfortable.”

The following are the future plans of the Miss America Organization as expressed by Art McMaster, president and CEO of the organization. McMaster is not a stranger to the workings of the Miss America Organization, beginning his stint with them, not in an operational role, but as one involved with overseeing the financial management of the organization. McMaster was then asked to assume the role of acting president and CEO of the organization and did so in the time of need.

According to McMaster, “From a purely business stand-point Vegas has Atlantic City overshadowed. In Atlantic City, the cost to produce the show in Boardwalk Hall outstripped the income from ticket sales. Every year we were losing money. As a non-profit we were running out of money we needed for scholarships, which is the core of this organization. In Las Vegas, although our seats available are less than we had in Atlantic City, (7,100 vs. approximately 13,000) we make money as the casino picks up the costs for production. [It's] very little expense to us so even at a reduced capacity we make money, we are profitable.

"Las Vegas is very happy to have the Miss America Pageant; they feel like they have stolen a great property away from Atlantic City,” added McMaster. When asked if he and the organization had any regrets on leaving Atlantic City, McMaster replied with a show of emotion: “Wow, of course, we do. Everyone in the organization has some regrets and everyone feels for all those volunteers who devoted so much of their life to making the organization what it is today.”

So, what are the chances of the Miss America Pageant returning to Atlantic City?

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1. Anonymous said... on Feb 14, 2013 at 09:00PM

“Wow, how interesting. Wonderful article, please follow up as having Miss America back is stupendous”

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2. Anonymous said... on Feb 19, 2013 at 08:40PM

“That will be great. I hope they bring back the parade too.”

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3. Victoria A. said... on Feb 22, 2013 at 02:15AM

“On my last comment I had mentioned my petition: “DESTROY the Stigma against Women Based on Age, Sexuality, Race and Socioeconomic Backgrounds”. If any one is interested in becoming an active supporter of my petition or if you know of anybody that could benefit from my petition campaign, go to and copy and paste the name in the search box on the top of the page. Thank you.”


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