Miss America 2014, the newly-crowned Nina Davuluri, won her title on Sunday night to many cheers… and several unfortunate Twitter jeers. Davuluri, the first-ever Miss America winner of Indian descent, was the subject of racist backlash online that targeted her Indian-American identity, as well as insults based on misperceptions that she is Arab, Muslim or both.
“I think that she did [anticipate the backlash],” Miss America 2008 Kirsten Haglund, who has known Davuluri for years through the pageant circuit, said in an interview on HuffPost Live. “And [Davuluri’s] platform is addressing cultural competency. She went in with the goal of becoming the first Indian Miss America, because that says something — that little girls can turn on their television and see Nina be crowned and it looks like them, if they’re Indian or they’re someone who’s not in the majority. I think that’s really cool.”
Added Haglund, “I knew from the moment I met this young woman and I saw her compete that she was destined for the Miss America stage.” Watch more from the interview in the video above and catch the full segment on HuffPost Live.
A look at Nina’s big win: