As the reigning Miss America titleholder, Betty Cantrell has had a busy year. She has dedicated her life and time to a number of commendable causes and organizations, but tonight, she’ll be handing off those responsibilities to a new woman– Miss America 2017.
Read on to learn more about the 22-year-old Georgia native.
1. She’s Studying Vocal Performance at Mercer University
Cantrell was born in Warner Robins, Georgia, to physical therapists Mike and Tassie Cantrell. She is of Greek and German descent. Cantrell attended Wesleyan College for her freshman year of college before transferring to Mercer University, where she is currently pursuing a music-education major with an emphasis on vocal performance.
The beauty pageant winner grew up on a farm, where she learned how to drive a full-sized John Deere tractor and plow and seed fields by the time she was ten. She’s also famous for her impersonations– particularly of Lois Griffin and Sharon Osbourne.
2. She Never Saw Herself as a Pageant Girl
Over her past year of service, Cantrell has become a very popular figure in the pageant community. In a recent interview with Cosmopolitan.com, Cantrell spoke about her time as Miss America. “My very first pageant was two years ago — I never ever saw myself as a pageant girl, but my mom suggested it. It took me a year and half to win Miss Georgia. My first year [at the state pageant] I won overall talent and I was second runner-up… I went back next year and I won overall talent, overall evening gown, over-all on-stage questions, and the Miss Georgia title also.”
3. She’s Presented Multiple Awards Over the Past Year
Over the past year, Cantrell has been the official National Goodwill Ambassador for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. She has also been a presenter for a number of awards shows, including the Country Music Association Awards in Nashville, Tennessee, and the 43rd American Annual Music Awards.
Cantrell was named Miss Georgia on June 20, 2015, and earned more than $15,000 in scholarship money. She was a representative of Georgia at the Miss America 2016 pageant, where she beat out first runner-up Miss Mississippi 2015, Hannah Roberts, for the 2016 title.
4.She Was Asked About Tom Brady During Her Final Interview
During her final interview at the Miss America pageant last year, Cantrell was asked to weigh in on the Deflate-Gate controversy. She answered, “Did he cheat? Um, that’s a really good question. I’m not sure. I think I’d have to be there to see the ball, and feel it to make sure it was deflated or not deflated. But if there was question there, then yes, I think he cheated.”
In an interview following her win, Cantrell admitted she didn’t know much about Brady’s case. She told the Associated Press, “Hopefully, the Tom Brady fans will forgive me and be OK with me again so we’ll see, but I think it is blowing over.”
5. She Enjoys Writing Songs
In a 2014 interview, Cantrell was asked about her interests outside of the pageant world. She revealed that she enjoys writing songs, though she’s never shown anyone her music. She also admitted that her favorite food is steak.
When Cantrell won the title of Miss Georgia, she was relatively knew to the pageant world. When she was asked “What’s one thing you wish you would have known before your first trip to Miss GA?” she said, “I actually felt very prepared for Miss GA this year. Although I do wish someone had informed me that it is possible to fall in love with an organization, as I did with the Miss America organization. I absolutely can’t wait to go back next year.”