ATLANTIC CITY, NJ — Miss Georgia Betty Cantrell, named Baciliky (Vasiliki) after her Greek grandmother, has been crowned Miss America for 2016.
“I’m still so overwhelmed, I don’t know what to say other than thank you! ” Cantrell told reporters.
She won a $50,000 scholarship along with her title.
Cantrell was asked during the question and answer portion of the pageant whether New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady cheated en route to his team’s run to a Super Bowl title last season by using footballs that were improperly deflated. A league-imposed four-game suspension of Brady was recently overturned by a federal judge.
The Miss America Pageant, held on September 13, coincided with opening day of pro football, America’s most-watched sport. There was one earlier game during the week, which marked the return of New England Patriots’ Quarterback Tom Brady, on September 10, after a court overturned his four-game suspension for allegedly using footballs during last seasons’ playoffs that were deflated to levels below the allowable National Football League minimum. During the pageant, Cantrell said, “I’m not sure” when asked if Brady cheated. “I’d have to see the ball and feel it” she said, before adding, “If there’s any question, then yes, he cheated.”
Later, she told the Associated Press (AP) “it was kind of a funky question to ask me if Tom Brady cheated. I’m not a football player and I really wasn’t there to feel that ball. If there was any question as to whether or not he cheated and somebody else felt the ball and decided that it was deflated, then yes, I guess he did cheat.”
Contestants from all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico were vying for the crown. The U.S. Virgin islands, which competed last year, could not field the required minimum number of entrants this year, pageant officials said. It is eligible for future competitions.
The 21 year-0ld Georgia native’s interests exemplify her Hellenic and American South heritages; Cantrell chants Byzantine hymns in both Greek and English for her Greek Orthodox church choir, according to the Miss Georgia website, and performs with a Greek dance group. On the other hand, she also drives a full-sized John Deere tractor, plows and seeds fields, and can handle a shotgun.