Vanessa Williams Finally Gets Miss America Apology
Miss Georgia Betty Cantrell crowned winner after Tom Brady question
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 14, 2015 6:38 AM CDT
Actress and singer Vanessa Williams sings during in the 2016 Miss America pageant, Sunday, Sept. 13, 2015, in Atlantic City, N.J.   (AP Photo/Noah K. Murray)
camera-icon View 4 more images

(Newser) – Miss Georgia Betty Cantrell grabbed the crown at last night's Miss America competition, but it was Vanessa Williams who stole most of the spotlight, reports the Washington Post. The singer and actress first rose to fame as the first African-American Miss America in 1983, but was forced out when Penthouse published nude photos of Williams without her consent. Last night, she made her return to the 2015 competition as a judge, and Miss America CEO Sam Haskell did his best to clear the air. "You have lived your life in grace and dignity, and never was it more evident than during the events of 1984 when you resigned," he said. "On behalf of today's organization ... I want to apologize for anything that was said or done that made you feel any less than the Miss America you are, and the Miss America you always will be."

Williams, who sang her hit, "Oh How the Years Go By," said the apology was "unexpected" and "beautiful," but looked rather bored throughout the ceremony, reports Entertainment Weekly. At least Cantrell managed to impress the judges with her opera performance of "Tu Tu Piccolo Iddio" from Madame Butterfly, though she seemed to fumble when asked about whether Tom Brady really did deflate those balls. "I'd have to see the ball and feel it," she said, per the AP. "If there's any question, then yes, he cheated." Cantrell, who was eventually crowned while wearing a crop-top evening gown, said she was "overwhelmed. I don't know what to say other than thank you!" She earned a $50,000 scholarship, while runners-up Miss Mississippi Hannah Roberts and Miss Colorado Kelley Johnson took home $25,000 and $20,000, respectively.