Madison Marsh, a 22-year-old second lieutenant in the US Air Force and a master’s student at the Harvard Kennedy School’s public policy program, made history at the 2024 Miss America pageant in Orlando, Florida. Representing Colorado, Marsh became the first active-duty Air Force officer to be crowned Miss America, a significant achievement.
In addition to her military service, Marsh is the co-founder of the Whitney Marsh Foundation, established in memory of her mother, who passed away from pancreatic cancer in 2018. The foundation, rooted in their hometown of Fort Smith, Arkansas, hosts an annual 5K and 10K run to raise funds. Marsh shared, “We wanted it to remember who my mom was and not what cancer had made her.” The foundation has raised over a quarter of a million dollars to date.
In a recent interview, Marsh drew parallels between her military service and participation in pageantry, noting that when she puts on her uniform, she serves and represents the country, and when she puts on the crown and sash, she serves and represents her community.
The 2024 Miss America winner, Marsh, will receive $60,000 in tuition scholarships and will serve as the Miss America brand ambassador, traveling throughout the country. Ellie Breaux of Texas was the first runner-up in the pageant.
The competition consisted of three nights of preliminary rounds, with 11 semi-finalists selected by judges and the public. These contestants showcased their fitness, engaged in discussions on various topics, demonstrated talents, and presented evening gowns. The final five included Marsh, Breaux, Cydney Bridges of Indiana, Mallory Hudson of Kentucky, and Caroline Parente of Rhode Island.
During the discussion round, Marsh shared her mother’s battle with pancreatic cancer in response to the theme of “drugs in America.” For her talent performance, she delivered a compelling spoken-word piece about obtaining her pilot’s license at 16.
The Miss America pageant featured 51 contestants representing all 50 US states and the District of Columbia. In the final round, the five finalists were asked about their goals as Miss America, with Marsh emphasizing her commitment to learning and leading “with passion” through her military service. Madison Marsh succeeds Grace Stanke of Wisconsin, the 2023 Miss America.