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Miss America pageant returns to Atlantic City, renews ABC deal

February 14, 2013|By Scott Collins
  • Miss New Jersey for 2012, Lindsey Petrosh, at Atlantic City's Boardwalk Hall, after it was announced that the Miss America pageant is returning to Atlantic City.
Miss New Jersey for 2012, Lindsey Petrosh, at Atlantic City's Boardwalk… (Mel Evans / Associated Press )

Miss America is headed back home. 

After a six year stint in Las Vegas, the Miss America Organization announced that it will move its namesake pageant back to Atlantic City, N.J., this September.

The pageant also signed a three-year renewal of its TV deal with network partner ABC.

Miss America's roots in Atlantic City extend back to 1921, when organizers hoped that an annual beauty pageant could extend the summer vacation season at the seaside resort town for another week into September. The pageant later became a much-anticipated TV tradition, especially when it was hosted by emcee Bert Parks.

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But in recent years, the pageant has struggled to keep up with the times as Americans' views of gender roles have changed (and also racial attitudes: for years, non-white women were barred from competing). The move to Vegas, along with a bid to ride the reality-TV wave, were part of the effort to stay relevant. Officials also emphasized the pageant's role as a provider of scholarships.

Sam Haskell, a former TV agent and chairman of the Miss America Organization, said in a statement: "Miss America remains an iconic symbol, and our roots have always stayed connected to Atlantic City." 

Last January on ABC, the pageant drew 6.7 million total viewers -- a respectable if not spectacular figure. As recently as 1988, the pageant drew at least 50 million viewers.

Miss America is not to be confused with Miss USA, the event controlled by Donald Trump.

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Twitter: @scottcollinsLAT

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