Why Are 51 Contestants Competing For Miss America 2018? The Pageant Can't Leave Out This Crown Hopeful

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When the Miss America 2018 final airs lives on ABC Sept. 10 at 9 p.m. ET, 51 women will be walking across its stage. Why are there 51 Miss America 2018 contestants? It may be a little confusing, if you assumed there'd be an even 50. Well, there's actually a very good reason for that 51st contestant: that even 50 doesn't include the District of Columbia, AKA our nation's capital. And Miss America can't very well leave out Miss D.C., can it?

Actually, within the history of Miss America, 51 isn't even the highest number of contestants who've ever competed. Miss America 2016 actually had 52 contestants, since that year included a Miss Puerto Rico. And, if you go back one more year to Miss America 2015, you'll notice that there were 53 women vying for the crown, including a Miss Virgin Islands. (According to NJ.com, Miss America officials confirmed that the Miss Virgin Islands Organization decided not to renew their license with Miss America back in 2015, which explains why they haven't competed since then).

So, when you think about it, 51 contestants is actually rather on the small side for the popular pageant — though, never fear, there's more than enough talent to make the competition's live broadcast as fabulously sparkly as it's ever been.

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And, as mentioned above, Miss America can't very well have a pageant without Miss District of Columbia. This year's Miss D.C., Briana Kinsey, has actually been competing in the Miss America circuit for six years — though this was her first time competing for Miss District of Columbia. After five years of competing in the Miss Alabama circuit in her home state, she became eligible for the Miss District of Columbia title as a post-baccalaureate student at American University — and promptly nabbed the title, which has now put her in the running for the coveted Miss America crown.

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Between the collective charm wattage of all Miss 50 States and Miss District of Columbia, pageant fans are definitely in for a treat when Miss America 2018 airs on Sept. 10.