With a red cup, she becomes Miss America Miss America 2014 Nina Davuluri, top, crowns Miss New York Kira Kazantsev as Miss America 2015 (AP photos)
With a red cup, she becomes Miss America

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Miss New York, Kira Kazantsev, won the Miss America pageant Sunday night, with the help of a red plastic cup.

For her talent performance, Kazantsev sang Pharrell Williams' "Happy" while sitting cross-legged on the stage and banging a red plastic cup on the floor. That immediately touched off a furor on social media network as many were critical of her performance.

Kazantsev said she was inspired by the 2012 movie "Pitch Perfect." Anna Kendrick's character auditions for a group by performing rhythmically with a cup. Kazantsev also said she did it to show future contestants they can win the Miss America pageant by performing whatever talent routine they like, regardless of what others think of it.

"I wanted every single little girl in America to be able to see that you can do that talent. You can do whatever talent you want on national television even with a red cup and still be Miss America and have the time of your life," Kazantsev said. "I literally in that minute and 30 seconds had the most fun I've ever had, and that's because I stayed true to myself ... no matter what everybody else told me, and it paid off. I'm very happy about it."

Kazantsev won a $50,000 scholarship with which she plans to attend law school. During her yearlong reign as Miss America, Kazantsev will travel about 20,000 miles a month.

Her victory marked the third year in a row that a contestant from New York has walked away with the crown.

The first runner-up was Miss Virginia, Courtney Paige Garrett. Other top 5 finalists were Miss Arkansas, Ashton Jo Campbell; Miss Florida, Victoria Cowen; and Miss Massachusetts, Lauren Kuhn.

Miss North Dakota, Jacky Arness, was chosen as Miss Congeniality.

Critical thinking challenge: The continental United States is about 3,000 miles wide. Why will Miss America travel 20,000 miles per month?

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  • JessicaK-Pay
    9/18/2014 - 01:04 p.m.

    I think Miss America will be traveling so many many miles is because she wont be going straight across the US, but stopping places, going back to places, and driving all *around* the US.

  • brittanydandron99
    9/18/2014 - 01:31 p.m.

    Miss New York won Miss America by sitting crisscrossed on the stage singing the song happy and doing the cup song at the same time. This shows that you can do almost anything and still win. No matter what it is you can give it a shot and do it and just believe in yourself and go for it, and who knows you may win. Just be yourself and do what you want and give it your best shot. Dont be afraid to be yourself. Be true to yourself.

  • ella4572
    9/18/2014 - 01:37 p.m.

    I'm so happy for Kira Kazantsev for winning Miss America. I bet she had to go though a lot of training to get here, so I bet she is liked I New York City. Allso she must have to put on a lot of makeup, I know I couldn't do that.

  • jenna395
    9/18/2014 - 01:40 p.m.

    This is really awesome, because she just had a red cup, and she comes Miss America! I would be so amazed to have a red cup and just be Miss America!

  • TalithaBGreen
    9/18/2014 - 01:44 p.m.

    I think she will travel 20000 miles per month because this a big deal for her, and she gets a scholarship! I also think she did a wonderful job singing at least she didn't sing the Cup Song! Also 20000 miles is very far.

  • HannahL-Pay
    9/18/2014 - 02:51 p.m.

    When Miss America travels the 20,000 miles, she goes all over the country, she's not just going one way. It is like when a singer goes on tour, they go all over the country and then they will travel back. Say she starts in New York and ends back in New York. She makes trips all over the country and back.

  • AaronN-Pay
    9/18/2014 - 02:52 p.m.

    It surprised me that this is the third year that Miss New York has won. The answer to the critical thinking challenge is that she will be travelling back and forth across America.

  • AdisonS-Pay
    9/18/2014 - 02:55 p.m.

    Its really cool that she won Miss America because of a talent that she did. I think that all the the contestants should be happy with here preformance and they should have fun doing there talent.

  • JamesL-Pay
    9/18/2014 - 05:20 p.m.

    She will have to back track through out the nation to travel the 20,000 because she will not be able to travel that far with one trip across the United States.

  • lacyn-Bla
    9/18/2014 - 05:49 p.m.

    here is my summary of this article .this girl won first place for Miss.America for tapping a cup on the floor.i think she will make a great Miss America .And she tapped the cup to the tune of pitch perfect.

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