Miss America contestant wins preliminary round for answer about kneeling protests
© Instagram

A Miss America contestant won her preliminary round in the competition after she was asked what advice she would give NFL players on whether to kneel or stand for the national anthem. 

Miss Virginia, Emili McPhail, said that kneeling during the national anthem is “a right you have” but also emphasized in her answer that national anthem protests were about bringing awareness to “police brutality.”

“Kneeling during the national anthem is absolutely a right that you have, to stand up for what you believe in, and to make the right decision that’s right for you,” McPhail said, according to The Press of Atlantic City

“It’s very important that we also have to take into consideration that it is not about kneeling: It is absolutely about police brutality,” the 22-year-old continued. 

The Miss America contestant was later pressed on whether she was concerned about possible negative reactions she could face for her response, which also won her a scholarship prize worth $1,000.


“I said standing up for what you believe in is the most important thing that you can do, and that’s what I did,” McPhail said. “I was very happy to have that moment, to be honest, because it’s not always easy.” 

On-field demonstrations began in 2016 with former NFL player Colin Kaepernick, who gained notoriety after he knelt during the national anthem to protest the treatment of people of color in the U.S. 

The former NFL player was frequently targeted by President TrumpDonald TrumpGaetz was denied meeting with Trump: CNN Federal Reserve chair: Economy would have been 'so much worse' without COVID-19 relief bills Police in California city declare unlawful assembly amid 'white lives matter' protest MORE and his base for what they say is disrespect toward the flag.

Nike helped, in part, to re-energize the debate over player protests earlier this week by choosing Kaepernick as the face of their new ad campaign. Kaepernick shared the video of his first Nike ad Wednesday.

Trump later ripped into Nike and Kaepernick for their decision to collaborate on an ad campaign, calling it not "appropriate."