Can controversy fill swimsuit void at Miss America?

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) — The swimsuits are gone, but there has been plenty of controversy surrounding this year’s Miss America competition that could keep viewers tuning in.

The next Miss America will be crowned around 11 p.m. Sunday on a nationally televised broadcast on ABC from Atlantic City.

This year marks the first time the broadcast will not include a swimsuit competition.

It has been replaced by onstage interviews, which have generated attention-grabbing remarks from contestants regarding President Trump, and NFL player protests, among other topics.

And behind the scenes, a revolt is underway among most of the Miss America state organizations who demand that national chairwoman Gretchen Carlson and CEO Regina Hopper resign.

The outgoing Miss America, Cara Mund, says the two have bullied and silenced her, claims that the women deny.

Through it all, the 51 young women vying for the crown and a $50,000 scholarship have tried to remain focused.

“I am just having the time of my life,” said Miss Massachusetts Gabriela Taveras, who won Friday’s onstage interview preliminary with comments on how Americans traveling abroad should let people from other nation’s know that America supports and wants to help them. “I don’t know what will happen; I just really shared myself as much as I could.”

The 98th Miss America competition will be held at Jim Whelan Boardwalk Hall in the city where it started nearly a century ago as a bathing beauty contest designed to extend the summer tourism season for another week after Labor Day.

Upon taking over at the helm of the Miss America Organization last winter following an email scandal in which former top leaders denigrated the appearance, intellect and sex lives of former Miss Americas, Carlson and Hopper set out to transform the organization, dubbing it “Miss America 2.0.”