The Miss America pageant is a long-standing competition which awards scholarships to young women from the 50 states plus the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands. The winner of the national pageant is awarded the title of "Miss America" for one year.
Miss America Pageant originated as a beauty contest in 1921, but now prefers to avoid this term since Swimsuit and Evening Wear compose 35 percent of the overall score used to judge contestants. The pageant began in Atlantic City
In January 2006 the pageant moved to its new home and time in Las Vegas, Nevada. Miss America Pageant presents itself as a "scholarship pageant," and the primary prizes for the winner and her runners-up are scholarships to the institution of her choice.
The Miss America Scholarship program, along with its local and state affiliates, is the largest provider of scholarship money to young women in the world, and in 2006 made available more than $45 million in cash and scholarship assistance. Since most of the contestants are college graduates already, or on the verge of graduating, most of their prize money is devoted to graduate school or professional school, or to pay off student loans for courses already taken. The Miss America Scholarship Program, along with its State and Local affiliates, is the largest provider of college scholarships for women in the United States.