Maria Menounos has joined the Miss America judging panel after revealing she was diagnosed with a brain tumor and stepped down from her on-air position with E! News.
Menounos (who was Miss Massachusetts Teen USA in 1996) will be joined by five other celebrities to choose the winner of the 97th annual competition which is set to air on September 10. A seventh judge will announced closer to the competition. Actress Molly Simms, 2014 Miss America winner and human rights advocate Nina Davuluri, former “American Idol” winner Jordin Sparks, PEOPLE editor-in-chief Jess Cagle and country star Thomas Rhett have also been tapped as judges for this year’s competition.
The winner of Miss America will be given a full college scholarship and judges won’t only look for beauty in this competition. They will also take lifestyle and fitness, talent, interview and evening attire into consideration.
“I’m so excited to be a judge at this year’s competition and am happy to participate alongside an organization that is an advocate for women’s education. I’m looking forward to seeing all the young women who have come this far and hearing more about them and their interests!” Simms said following the announcement.
Sparks added in a statement, “I am honored to participate as a judge for the Miss America Competition this year. I understand the pressure that a competition brings and I’m lucky it’s given me the unique perspective on the hard work that the contestants have to put in to get to this point. No doubt they are all strong women and I look forward to hearing the platforms they represent.”
“Bachelor” host Chris Harrison will serve as the host of Miss America which will air live from Atlantic City, NJ on September 10 at 9 p.m. ET on ABC.