Wausau native Grace Stanke, a 20-year-old nuclear engineering student at UW-Madison, was crowned the winner of the Miss America competition on Thursday at the Mohegan Sun casino in Uncasville, Conn., becoming the pageant’s 95th winner.
A graduate of Wausau West High School, Stanke is the daughter of Darrin and Jenny Stanke.
She previously served as Miss Madison for two years at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic and went on to place in the top 10 at Miss Wisconsin before returning to the stage and becoming Miss Wisconsin this year.
The 2023 Miss America competition was held over four days in Connecticut. Miss New York Taryn Delanie Smith was crowned first runner-up to Stanke.
Congratulations to #MissAmerica2023, Grace Stanke from Wisconsin!
1st Runner Up – New York
2nd Runner Up – Texas
3rd Runner Up – West Virginia
4th Runner Up – Georgia pic.twitter.com/czu6wCryOo
— Miss America (@MissAmerica) December 16, 2022
Originally created by a group of Atlantic City businessmen in the 1920s, the evolution of Miss America would see the event ultimately operated as a nonprofit. The Miss America Organization brands itself as the “nation’s leading advocate for women’s education and the largest provider of scholarship assistance to young women in the United States, awarding millions of dollars annually in cash awards and in-kind tuition waivers.”