Miss Georgia Betty Cantrell is the new Miss America.

Cantrell rode an opera performance to the title in Atlantic City's Boardwalk Hall Sunday night, besting 51 other competitors in the nationally televised pageant.

The pageant also marked the return of Miss America 1984 Vanessa Williams, who was back for the first time after resigning the crown following a nude photo scandal. Pageant executive chairman Sam Haskell apologized to Williams on behalf of the pageant.

"I want to apologize for anything that was said or done," Haskell told Williams as they stood on the stage. "Vanessa: Welcome back!"

For Williams, who went on to stardom on television and on the Broadway stage, it was a triumphant return to the Miss America stage.

"I did the best I could in my reign as Miss America," she said during Sunday's pageant.

Cantrell sang an opera number for her talent performance. She won a preliminary competition earlier in the week, also with an opera performance.

Preliminary competition in talent, interviews, evening wear and swimsuit competition ran through Thursday.

On Saturday, the Miss America contestants hit the Atlantic City Boardwalk for the annual "Show Us Your Shoes" parade.

Most of the shoes had designs specific to the contestant's home states. Miss New Jersey, for instance, had dice and Monopoly money on her shoes in a nod to the pageant's Atlantic City history.

'Game of Thrones' is Emmy favorite

"Game Of Thrones" is the Emmy Awards front-runner after winning eight technical achievement awards. The HBO fantasy saga was honored at Saturday's creative arts Emmys, the precursor to the main Sept. 20 ceremony, in categories including special visual effects and casting. FX Networks' "American Horror Story: Freak Show," was next with five awards. The creative Emmys also recognized guest actors for drama and comedy series, with trophies going to Reg E. Cathey for "House of Cards," Margo Martindale for "The Americans," Joan Cusack for "Shameless" and Bradley Whitford for "Transparent."

Rock 'n' roll chef: Kerry Simon, a former "Iron Chef" champ who served up dishes to rock bands such as Led Zeppelin and Mötley Crüe, died Friday at a hospice in Las Vegas. He was 60. Simon was diagnosed with multiple system ­atrophy, a degenerative neurological disorder, and died from complications. Known as the "rock 'n' roll chef," Simon appeared on "Iron Chef America" in 2005 and beat Cat Cora in a hamburger challenge.

Associated Press