Each contestant in this year’s Miss America pageant had 10 seconds on stage to introduce herself. Michigan’s contestant Emily Sioma used her brief platform to bring attention not just to herself, but to an ongoing public health scourge in her home state: the Flint water crisis.
"From the state with 84 percent of the U.S. fresh water but none for its residents to drink, I am Miss Michigan Emily Sioma," said Sioma, who is from Grass Lake, Michigan, during Sunday night's competition.
As NBC News reported, Sioma was referring to the lead-contaminated water that started flowing into Flint residents' homes in the spring of 2014 after officials switched the impoverished city's water source to the untreated Flint River to save money.
The result was a man-made health crisis: Children suffered dangerously high lead levels, and experts suspect a deadly Legionnaires' disease outbreak that killed 12 occurred as a result of the contamination.
U.S. & World
Sioma didn’t win the pageant, but she won the praise of countless Twitter users who commended her bold approach and called her a "true patriot," a "hero" and a "badass woman."