In a historical first, a service member has won the Miss America Pageant. Social media is abuzz with news that Madison Marsh is the first service member to win the Miss America Pageant. Viewing videos appeared all over social media as other female service members watched the results live, sharing a live view of their excitement and joy for their fellow service member. A Second Lieutenant in the Air Force and recent graduate of the Air Force Academy, Madison Marsh represented Colorado for the Miss America Pageant. She was crowned Miss Academy in 2023, representing the Air Force Academy. This crown made her eligible to compete for the Miss Colorado title, which she also won in 2023.
Per an interview, she desired to participate in pageants when she saw her cousin compete, stating, “Along the way, I’ve learned all of the leadership opportunities and especially what I can do as Miss America.” She had competed for the Miss Colorado title three times.
The Lieutenant has been flying since age 15 and received her pilot license a year later. Her love of flight led to her joining the Air Force, which is a natural progression of that love in conjunction with a desire to serve her country. She graduated with a degree in astrophysics from the academy in 2023.
She credits the Air Force with supporting her to compete in the pageant, noting that she learned certain skills at the academy and supporting her in attending Harvard while still on active duty. Second Lieutenant Marsh is a graduate student at the Harvard Business School pursuing a Master of Public Policy, with a planned completion date in 2025.
In addition to a love of flying and pageantry, she founded the Whitney Marsh Foundation in honor of her mother, who passed away from pancreatic cancer when 2nd Lt. Marsh was just 17 years old. The foundation raises funds for cancer research while raising awareness and prevention for pancreatic cancer.
She has said in several interviews that her goal is to break stereotypes – stereotypes for military members, for female military members in the roles, and for their goals. “As a young woman in the military, as I’ve said, I believe being the first military member breaks all these boundaries about allowing women to do both. Fifteen years ago, I wouldn’t have been able to receive the position I am in now as a military member receiving the position of pilot… I think those women stepping into that role broke it for me and … being able to be Miss America and a military member breaks all those stereotypes.” She stated further she wants young women to see “they can do anything that they want.”
You can follow her tour as Miss America on their official social media pages.