Miss America contestant surprises everyone with her response to question about NFL protests
When taking part in the Miss America competition, many people may assume that, in order to win her place, a contestant must show off her best talents and discuss her humanitarian goals, remaining as uncontroversial as possible in the process.
However, 'uncontroversial' was not a word that Emili McPhail recognised on Thursday night. The young woman, who was representing the state of Virginia, stood up for what she believed in, putting herself at risk of losing votes from judges when she was questioned on the NFL protests that have divided America.
Rather than giving a neutral answer to the question that has been plaguing the USA, when Emili was asked what advice she would give to players about whether to stand or kneel for the anthem on the second night of preliminary competition, she was crystal clear about whose side she was on.
"Kneeling during the national anthem is absolutely a right that you have to stand up for what you believe in, and to make the right decision that’s right for you," she told the audience and judges. "It’s very important that we also have to take into consideration that it is not about kneeling: It is absolutely about police brutality."
While her answer didn't win her Miss America 2019 - that honour going to Nia Franklin, who was representing New York - it impressed the judges enough to garner her the preliminary onstage question scholarship, a cash prize of $1,000.
The beauty queen's courageous response was also a hit on social media, leading Twitter users to heap praise on her. "Emili McPhail is the hero we want but not the hero America deserves," tweeted @flowerqu_een. She was joined by @kevthepoet who addressed the contestant directly, putting "Thank you for being real and being honest and bringing the focus back to police brutality."
However, given the fact that the NFL protests have millions of opponents across the USA, of course, not everyone agreed with Miss Virginia's answer.
A Twitter user going by the name of @McLiberTea wrote: "
#EmiliMcPhail seems to have no idea what it's really about, much like many other clueless beauty pageant contestants. This is the reason why so many people don't watch these pageants nor care."
@Jacqueline72966 agreed, naming the contest "a joke". "Miss America Pageant is a joke already. Now we have to listen to advise from Miss Virginia Emili McPhail. About whether to kneel or stand during The Star-Spangled Banner," she wrote. "She said it is a right you have, and it's absolutely about police brutality. OMG".
Speaking with reporters afterwards, Emili was asked if she was worried about alienating people who feel differently about the protests. Again, she remained cool as a cucumber and stood up for what she believed in, saying: "You’re entitled to your own opinion, but I stood up for what I believed was right."
She sure did! Congratulations, Emili!