The Miss America pageant has crowned its first winner of Indian heritage, who narrowly beat a contestant of Chinese heritage.
"I'm so happy this organisation has embraced diversity," 24-year-old Nina Davuluri said after winning the crown in Atlantic City, New Jersey. "I'm thankful there are children watching at home who can finally relate to a new Miss America."
In second place was Miss California Crystal Lee, who earned a US$25,000 scholarship. She is fluent in Putonghua and obtained a BA and MA from Stanford in four years. She is not to be confused with Miss Hawaii's Crystal Lee who said they both come from conservative Chinese families.
The 24-year old winner, Davuluri, is a native of Syracuse. She wants to be a doctor, and is applying to medical school, with the help of a US$50,000 scholarship she won as part of the pageant title.
Davuluri's victory led to some negative comments on Twitter from users upset that someone of Indian heritage had won the pageant. Many wrongly described her as an Arab who looks like a terrorist. She brushed those aside, however.
"I have to rise above that," she said. "I always viewed myself as first and foremost American."
Others, like the Jezebel feminist blog, denounced the comments, saying "racists are being racist because Miss America isn't white."
Davuluri's grandmother said she cried when she saw the news on television.
"I am very, very, happy for the girl. It was her dream and it was fulfilled," 89-year-old V. Koteshwaramma said by phone from her home in the city of Vijaywada, in the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh. She said there were numerous doctors in the family, both in the US and India, and that if her granddaughter wanted to become one, "I am sure she will do it."
Additional reporting by Agence France-Presse