Nina Davuluri made history on Sunday, Sept. 15, when she became the first-ever Indian American woman to be crowned Miss America. Unfortunately, shortly after her big win, the 24-year-old was subjected to an onslaught of mean-spirited and racist tweets.
"How the f--k does a foreigner win miss America? She is a Arab! #idiots," one user wrote. Another echoed, "Miss New York is an Indian.. With all do respect, this is America." Other Twitter users accused Davuluri of being a member of the terrorist group Al Qaeda. (Many of the tweets have since been deleted.)
Davuluri—who performed a Bollywood routine during the pageant—addressed the online backlash during a news conference with the Associated Press. "I have to rise above that," she explained. "I always viewed myself as first and foremost American." After all, her parents emigrated from India 30 years ago—long before she was even born.
Instead of dwelling on the negative, Davuluri is taking the high road. "I'm so happy this organization has embraced diversity," the reigning Miss New York told reporters. "I'm thankful there are children watching at home who can finally relate to a new Miss America."
Davuluri capped off her victory on Sept. 16 by taking a dip in the Atlantic Ocean. She then appeared, via satellite, on ABC's Good Morning America. Instead of hiding her heritage, the recent University of Michigan alum said it was "such an honor" to represent a modern Indian-American woman.
"I just remember performing my talent and halfway through I started crying because it was such an incredible experience being on that Miss America stage, performing on live television on ABC, and knowing that my friends and family were watching," she said. "That's so meaningful and so powerful."
Davuluri dreams of becoming a doctor and plans to use the $50,000 scholarship she won to further her education. For now, though, her focus is on Miss America. "I still can't believe it," Davuluri admitted.