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Last updateTue, 17 Mar 2015 2pm

Nina Davuluri shrugs off abuse and allegations to celebrate Miss America win

The first-ever Indian origin contestant to win the Miss America contest has dismissed racist abuse on Twitter as she celebrated her win with a photo call in New Jersey.

Miss New York Nina Davuluri, 24, was born and raised in Fayetteville, New York and was crowned after impressing judges with a fusion Indian dance routine at the glittering ceremony in Atlantic City on Sunday night.

Her win however brought out a slew of hateful comments, with one man tweeting: 'How can you be Miss AMERICA and look like you should be a gas station clerk or motel owner?', whilst another asked: 'Well they just picked a Muslim for Miss America. That must've made Obama happy. Maybe he had a vote.'

However, Ms Davuluri, a cognitive science graduate from the University of Michigan, shrugged off  the comments saying "I have to rise above that...I have always viewed myself as first and foremost American".

The majority of people online rushed to congratulate Ms Davuluri who intends to use the $50,000 prize money to fund her dream of going to medical school.

The Indian-American beauty, whose parents moved to New York 30 years ago, had caused a stir prior to the contest after allegedly making derogatory comments about a fellow contestant, former Miss New York Mallory Hagan.

Ms Davuluri is alleged to have called her predecessor "fat as s***!" after Ms Hagan was pictured on a beach in Hawaii having put on some fate.

However competition authorities say the allegation has been proved false.

It is thought one of her entourage made the insulting remark.

After winning the Miss New York competition on July 16, Ms Davuluri invited friends back to her hotel room to celebrate, and that's when another competitor overheard her slinging insults at Ms Hagan.

When the conversation turned offensive, a beauty queen in an adjoining room started to record the conversation.

In addition to the fat comment, friends of Ms Davuluri were heard making racist comments, reports the New York Post.

Following the incident, Ms Davuluri apologized for her friends' comments on Facebook, but said she did nothing wrong.

'I want to apologize for the awful statements made by people in my room... There were people who claimed to be my supporters and said things I never agreed with, nor supported,' Ms Davuluri wrote. 'I was never a part of the words or statements that may have been hurtful... I'm sorry if someone said something that was inappropriate.'

Speaking on Good Morning America on Monday, Ms Davuluri said that she had called Ms Hagan about the reports and had apologized 'because it was the right thing to do'.

After she was awarded the crown, the women hugged.

She added that the entire experience had been "emotional", in particular her dance routine which combined the classical Indian dance styles of Kuchipudi and Bharatanatyam with a few Bollywood moves thrown in.

'It was the first time Bollywood has been performed at Miss America,' she said.

'It's such an honour for myself, my family and my community as well. I just remember performing my talent and halfway through just crying. It was such an incredible experience being on that stage... It was so meaningful and powerful.'

 

FACTS ABOUT THE NEW MISS AMERICA, NINA DAVULURI

The Firsts...

Nina is the first Indian American to ever be crowned Miss America. Though she hails from the Syracuse, NY area, she was born to Telugu parents from Vijayawada, Andhra Pradesh.

She's a bit of a Whiz Kid...

Nina attended the University of Michigan, where she graduated with a degree in brain behaviour and cognitive science.  In her time at the university she made the Dean’s List, and won the Michigan Merit Award and a National Honor Society Award.

They are all doctors...

Nina’s father is a gynaecologist, her sister is in her third year of medical school, her maternal aunt and uncle are doctors who run a nursing home in India, and her father’s siblings also work in the medical field in America.  Unsurprisingly, Nina also wants to become a doctor.

Tough Times...

During her time as Miss New York, Nina bravely spoke out about her past struggles with bulimia.  She lost about 50 pounds due to the eating disorder, according to the Syracuse Post-Standard.  But instead of hiding her issues, Nina has talked about them to raise awareness and help other people struggling with the same thing. “People who’ve been overweight, especially women, feel like at a moment’s notice we can go back to where we were,” she told the Syracuse Post-Standard. “It makes you more sympathetic, more empathetic. You don’t judge. I’ve been there, and if I can pull myself out of where I’ve been, anyone can.”

She loves her dog...

In a video on Miss New York’s website, Nina jokes that she doesn’t worship cows, but she does worship one animal — her adorable dog! “He’s half-retriever, half question mark. Love him!,” she says. 

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