When Betty Cantrell was crowned Miss America 2016, she entered the history books as the first Miss America from Warner Robins.
But Warner Robins has its own distinction: not only has a Miss America come from the Miss Warner Robins pageant, but also a Miss America’s Outstanding Teen. Pageant officials believe that Warner Robins is the only city in the country to have had both a Teen and a Miss America winner.
Olivia McMillan, Miss America’s Outstanding Teen 2015 and a graduate of Northside High School, didn’t reign with Betty but has gotten to know Betty over the years.
“She is the best,” said McMillan, speaking by phone between classes at Julliard.
McMillan said that Cantrell’s experience as Miss America and her own experience as Miss America’s Outstanding Teen would be vastly different due to one main reason -- school.
Cantrell had already planned to take a break from her college studies after winning Miss Georgia. McMillan was about to start her senior year in high school when she was crowned Miss America’s Outstanding Teen.
“I had to finish school so my appearance time was more limited than hers will be. Miss America is in a different city almost every 48 hours. Her schedule will be insane; constantly traveling, living out of a suitcase and speaking at six to eight functions a day,” McMillan said. “Being Miss America is a full-time job. With the partnership with Dick Clark, that has really increased the opportunities for Miss America and with Betty’s incredible talent, that also will increase her opportunities.”
During her reign as Outstanding Teen, McMillan was backstage during last year’s Miss America pageant after Kira Kazantsev was crowned Miss America 2015.
“Her life changed as soon as that crown hit her head,” McMillan said. “When I was backstage last year, it could best be described as a madhouse -- all the major news outlets there wanting to talk to Kira just literally minutes after she had left the stage.”
“I just can’t wait to see what Betty is going to do with this year,” McMillan said. “The opportunities that she will have and the relationships that she will form will impact her career and the rest of her life.”
McMillan gave up her crown at the Miss America’s Outstanding Teen pageant in August, but she said that she will always have the memories of an incredible experience.
“I love that I will forever have these memories of the amazing opportunities as a titleholder, of the lives that I was privileged to touch and all the people that touched me as well,” McMillan said. “It was a great year but I am enjoying being Olivia again. Being a national titleholder, the face of an organization like Betty is now, it is difficult and hard but it is amazing and incredible as well.”