MacKenzie Freed, a 23-year-old resident of Lodi, was crowned the new Miss California Saturday evening in a historic competition which marked the end of the swimsuit era that dates to the beginning of the 94-year-old pageant.
Freed, who competed as Miss Treasure Island, dropped to the floor of the Saroyan Theatre after hearing her name announced as the winner among a field of 55 competitors.
“I don’t have words,” said Freed, who graduated from California Baptist University last week.
Freed won a total of $22,000 in scholarships, which she said will go to pay off some college loans and help launch her journey through law school.
Miss Orange Coast Katie Wayland was first runner-up and winner of a $7,500 scholarship.
She was followed by Miss Barbary Coast Nikki Holbrook ($5,000 in scholarships); Miss Los Angeles County Cailin Nieto ($4,000 in scholarships); and, Miss Yosemite Valley Jane Kennedy ($3,500 in scholarships). Nieto is from Merced, and this marked her fourth year in the competition.
Freed, who won preliminary swimsuit title, acknowledged the pageant is going in a new direction following an overhaul this year due to sexist language contained in e-mails shared by top officials with the Miss America Organization.
The swimsuit category is being replaced at this year’s Miss America Pageant in Atlantic City, New Jersey, with an live interaction session with the judges.
Freed, who said she has been singing “since I was in the womb,” sang ‘Hit Me With a Hot Note’ for her talent.
Making the final seven, who answered on-stage questions posed by the judges, were Miss San Francisco Sarah Dahdouh and Miss Culver City Monica Stainer.
Those making the final 16 included Miss San Luis Obispo Shayna Lee, Miss Golden Gate Chelsea Vuong, Miss San Fernando Valley Alyssa Scofield, Miss San José Jacqueline Wibowo, Miss San Diego Marisa Butler, Miss Golden Valley Songee Barker, Miss Greater East Bay Alissa Anderegg, Miss Hollywood Sarell Diamond, and, Miss Canyon Hills Jazmín Ávalos.
Friday evening, the baton-twirling Miss Anaheim Cameron Doan, a student at Santa Ana’s Mater Dei High School, was crowned Miss California Outstanding Teen.
(This story will be updated)