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Miss America 2019 will look more like ‘Shark Tank’ than a pageant


2018 Miss America Cara Mund places the crown on Miss New York Nia Franklin who is the newly crowned Miss America 2019.UPI

Drop the ­Vaseline and lipstick and bring a briefcase — welcome to Miss America 2.0.

When the Miss America competition airs on Dec. 19, it will look less like the beauty showcase of yesteryear and more like a 21st century reality-TV competition.

“I think we envision ‘Shark Tank’ with the [candidate] interaction,” newly minted Miss America Board Chair Shantel Krebs told The Post. “We are going to say those same things. ‘Tell us why you are the best.’ ‘We want to see your business plan.’ ‘Have you set metrics and goals?’ ”

The finals will air on NBC, which Krebs said will “showcase as a competition for a job to be a contractual employee of Miss America.”

They’ve kicked the word pageant to the curb in favor of competition, and contestants are now candidates.

One of the more striking changes is the location. The weeklong event has moved from its birthplace in Atlantic City, NJ, to Mohegan Sun in Conn­ecticut. And for the first time, the preliminary events will be livestreamed in a bid to engage a larger audience.

“We want to maintain the momentum we’ve had with 2.0,” added Krebs.

It’s been two years of seismic shifts for the Miss America Organization. In 2017, CEO Sam Haskell was ousted after e-mails disparaging contestants and former titleholders surfaced. Then former Fox News broadcaster and Miss America 1989 Gretchen Carlson and former journalist Regina Hopper took the reins, but the sisterhood was short-lived. In June 2018, they announced that they were changing the pageant to be more about achievement than aesthetics, including ditching the famed swimsuit and eveningwear portion. The move sparked outrage within the organization with former board member Jennifer Vaden Barth leading a lawsuit against Carlson, alleging she illegally seized power.

Shantel Krebs became the new chair of Miss America in June, replacing Gretchen Carlson.AP

The lawsuit was dropped, and in June Carlson quietly stepped down while Krebs, a former Miss South Dakota and SD secretary of state, was elected to the chair position and given the task of healing the heavily fractured institution.

“Success in an organization is compromise,” said Krebs, who is adding eveningwear back into the show, but with the exception that the women won’t be judged on their gowns.

“There will be several opportunities [for formalwear] whether it be during the opening number or on-stage interview. As Miss America, she might be required to wear eveningwear and we will get to see how they will carry themselves,” said Krebs. “Or she might be in a dress that reflects something appropriate for a TED Talk.”

When Krebs landed the gig, the former politician went on a listening tour and attended state competitions.

“Having been in the political arena, everything is local. I’ve been listening to our internal audience, and they are important to me as a chair. We are grateful to our local members and volunteers.”

Sources told The Post that last year’s pageant, where Nia Franklin was crowned, was incredibly tense. However, the past few months have been marked with a relative peace within the organization, and Krebs said the nearly 10,000-seat arena is almost sold out.

But an insider told The Post the former titleholders were still split in their allegiances. Miss America 2016 Betty Maxwell (née Cantrell) voiced her displeasure last week on industry site Pageant Planet’s Instagram page.

“There is nothing to celebrate about our beloved pageant dying before its 100th anniversary. It’s heartbreaking actually,” she wrote. “Hence why the majority of former Miss Americas will not be attending.”



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