Baciliky “Betty” Cantrell, Miss Georgia, recently crowned Miss America, is a proud Greek girl!
The 21 year-old musical theatre major at Mercer University stunned the crowd with her rendition of “Tu Tu Piccolo Iddio” from Madame Butterfly. She beat out 51 other contestants to win the crown. She’s making the rounds on all the news and talk shows, and sharing her pride in her Greek heritage.
“My mom’s family is full-blooded Greek,” she has said at every interview, and states in her Miss America profile.
She is always asked about her name, Betty, which isn’t very popular these days.
“My mother’s mother was named Vasiliki, and her American nickname was Betty. My mom said that when she had a daughter she would name her Vasiliki and call her Betty, so here I am.”
The new Miss America says she likes the name Betty, because it’s old-fashioned. This makes her not only the first Vasiliki to be Miss America, but also the first Betty. Some shows are even speaking about the irony of the meaning of Vasiliki – it means queen or royalty. In one interview, she was asked if everyone calls her Betty. She said, “Everyone except the older ladies at my church.”
Betty grew up in a military family on a farm in Georgia. She says she can drive a John Deere and handle a shot gun. Her bio reveals that she also sings in her Greek Orthodox church’s choir. Of her past and her future, Miss America has said, “I come from humble beginnings. It was a simple life, but it’s made me appreciate everything so much more. I am humbled and proud to represent this organization (of Miss America). For now, my studies are on hold. But with the scholarship money I will return to school and finish my degree. My dream is to be on Broadway.”
She traces her Greek roots to the island of Samos. She said she speaks some Greek, but understands more than she speaks. Betty’s grandfather is Stavros G. Andris, an AHEPA Life Member of Solon Chapter 5, Savannah, GA.
Her pageant platform is “Healthy Children, Strong America.” We wish her congratulations and a great year as Miss America.