THOUGHTS OF MISS USA

2017

THE PRETHOUGHTS



THE RESULTS (May 15, 2017)



She's capital! Kára Deidra McCullough has won a successive Miss USA crown for the District of Columbia giving them the first back-to-back wins since Texas won five crowns in a row from 1985 to 1989. The IMG era of pageantry has made it clear that Miss USA must be an achiever and Kára certainly is as she is a scientist working for the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Born in Naples, Italy as an army brat due to her father serving in the United States Marine Corps, Kára has lived in many countries worldwide. Interestingly enough, Kára was actually the 1st runner up to Deshauna Barber at the Miss District of Columbia USA 2016 pageant and Kára was even runner-up at Miss DC USA 2015 as well before winning the 2017 crowns for the nation's capital and now... the nation! This is the fourth Miss USA win for the nation's capital succeeding those of Bobbi Johnson in 1964, Shauntay Hinton in 2002 and Deshauna Barber, Miss USA 2016.

In terms of my predictions, I was fully expecting surprises and knew that interview had more weight so I tried to take that into consideration and I was actually satisfied with how I did. I picked 6 of the 10 semifinalists (District of Columbia, New Jersey, South Carolina, Alaska, California, and Tennessee) plus 1 alternate (Illinois) and 1 honorable mention (Minnesota). 1 of the semifinalists was in my next tier (New York) and the one I didn't peg was Missouri who is the first African-American to represent her state at Miss USA.

I will post my full commentary on the 2017 Miss USA pageant on Sunday, May 21.


ACTUAL TOP 10:

MY PREDICTIONS:

Winner=District of Columbia-Kára McCullough

Winner=Utah-Baylee Jensen

1st Runner Up=New Jersey-Chhavi Verg

1st Runner Up=Pennsylvania-Cassandra Angst

2nd Runner Up=Minnesota-Meridith Gould

2nd Runner Up=California-India Williams*

FINALISTS (alpha'l):

FINALISTS:

Illinois-Whitney Wandland

South Carolina-Megan Gordon*

South Carolina-Megan Gordon

Nevada-Lauren York

SEMIFINALISTS (alpha'l):

SEMIFINALISTS:

Alaska-Alyssa London

Tennessee-Allee-Sutton Hethcoat*

California-India Williams

Arizona-Tommy Lynn Calhoun

Missouri-Bayleigh Dayton

District of Columbia-Kára McCullough*

New York-Hannah Lopa

Alaska-Alyssa London*

Tennessee-Allee-Sutton Hethcoat

New Jersey-Chhavi Verg*

 

ALTERNATES: North Carolina, Illinois*, Texas, Kentucky, Wisconsin

 

HONORABLE MENTIONS: Louisiana, Minnesota*, Georgia, Massachusetts, Maryland

 

* = made actual top 10







_________________________________________________



THE PREDICTIONS (May 13, 2017)



The big night is Sunday, May 14 on FOX!
Before we get on to the predictions, here is some pageant news. This year's hosts are the same as last year: Julianne Hough, Terrence Jenkins with Ashley Graham doing backstage commentary. This year's performers are: Pitbull, Brett Eldredge and an intro featuring dancers from Cirque du Soleil performing hits from the Vegas show "Michael Jackson One". They have also repeated the method of a mixed panel of preliminary and finals judges. Three women will serve as both prelim & telecast judges: Halima Aden, Nancy Lublin, and Brook Lee-Miss Universe 1997. For the final telecast judges, we have: Jeannie Mai, Carson Kressley, and Janet Mock. The other preliminary judges were: Vanessa Gringer, Maura McGreevy, Nick Light and Carole Gist-Miss USA 1990. Some debated Halima Aden being on the judges' panel seeing how she just competed in Miss Minnesota USA so we don't know what effect this may have on this year's Minnesota rep who defeated her at the state pageant but Halima has since been signed to IMG as a model after she became the first woman to compete in a pageant wearing a hijab and a burkini so we might have some more unconventional choices for the semifinalists so we shall see who actually places.

This year could have a lot of surprises and of course, they are to be expected but what a year to reduce the number of semifinalists back to a top 10 which hasn't been done since 2003. It just makes it that much more difficult so it is really hard to figure out who will actually win the crown this year especially where interview seems to have more weight so in this IMG era of pageantry, I'm somewhat confused so am just going with something. Apparently, 9 of the semifinalists will be chosen by the preliminary judges and the 10th semifinalist will be the winner of the Internet vote.

After reviewing the preliminaries and close up videos coupled with my background knowledge, it is now time for me to post my final predictions for Miss USA 2017 so here we go!



TOM’S FINAL PREDICTIONS FOR MISS USA 2017

Winner=Utah-Baylee Jensen

I'm going to go with what I want versus what I think will happen. You all know I can't resist a good legacy story! As mentioned in my first round prethoughts, Baylee is the most exciting delegate this year with the most pressure on her due to the simple fact that she is the first daughter of a former Miss USA to compete for Miss USA herself. Baylee's mother is Gretchen Polhemus-Miss USA 1989 who dominated her year at Miss USA easily getting the highest scores all evening. Wouldn't it be exciting for Baylee to win on May 14 which also happens to be Mother's Day? Wouldn't it be even more exciting to see Gretchen and Baylee doing media interviews together? I don't care if Baylee's styling looks very 80s with the one-piece swimsuit, the gown and the bun. I appreciate that she dared to be different and styling can be changed so this could be a test. Let's not forget she has an amazing, naturally athletic body and outstanding beauty obviously thanks to some phenomenal genes inherited from her mother! There's a pattern here for Utah also as their 2009 and 2013 reps also made the top 5 so will Baylee go all the way 4 years later in 2017? All eyes will be on Baylee. How will she do?

1st Runner Up=Pennsylvania-Cassandra Angst

Cassandra is one beautiful red-head studying nursing who used to suffer with an eating disorder and now wants to preach the message of body acceptance. This fiery model has been a standout from the beginning and I mentioned in my first round prethoughts that she could very well be the second red-headed Pennsylvanian to win Miss USA after Michele McDonald missed her prom to do it in 1971. Will Cassandra be following in her footsteps?

2nd Runner Up=California-India Williams

Miss India is a very confidently beautiful contestant that has an interesting and diverse background being part African-American and part Native-American but she can also speak Mandarin! She even reminds me of Malia Obama. India is very tall and has a great body so she could just be who they are looking for even if she was eliminated in the first round of cycle 22 of America's Next Top Model.

FINALISTS:

South Carolina-Megan Gordon

Megan is very fit and seems to have this spark about her especially when she speaks so she is one to watch. She also works as a nurse and won a very competitive state like South Carolina and even previously won the Miss Collegiate America title so I am looking for Megan to have a strong showing.

Nevada-Lauren York

Lauren is also outstanding in every aspect and is a major contender. It also helps that her state pageant is directed by Shanna Moakler-Miss USA 1995 who has been responsible for a lot of pageant success stories in recent years. Lauren has a great overall look with an amazing body and this gown is breathtaking. My concern is that she may not be quite what IMG is looking for so we shall see how she does. She is also the host delegate and Nevada just won in 2014 so could it be time again?

SEMIFINALISTS:

Tennessee-Allee-Sutton Hethcoat

Allee-Sutton studies entertainment law and wants to work towards equal pay for men and women which sounds like the right thing for today's Miss USA so she could very well be it too. Her overall look is very good. This gown is very nice and she has worked on her body so she is also a strong contender.

Arizona-Tommy Lynn Calhoun

Tommy Lynn is a survivor! She survived getting tackled at a football game when Arizona Wildcats' Brandon Dawkins accidentally landed on her during a play that got out of bounds but Tommy Lynn landed perfectly. Apart from that, she was also adopted after coming from an unstable home until she became an active volunteer in emergency medicine where she connected with the woman who adopted her. Tommy Lynn has a great body and her gown is stunning and unique so I think her story and overall appearance makes her semifinalist material.

District of Columbia-Kára McCullough

Like her DC predecessor, Deshauna Barber, Kára also is uniquely accomplished since she is a scientist at the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission and I think IMG wants delegates that have unconventional jobs outside the field of entertaiment. Kára even has a great video package of her teaching children about science through art and Kára is well packaged herself with great hair, a nice body and the way her stunning gown floated on stage was really phenomenal. Kára was runner-up to the reigning Miss USA, Deshauna Barber at Miss DC USA last year so could it happen two years in a row for the nation's capital?

Alaska-Alyssa London

Alaska hasn't placed since 1990 so will Alyssa finally bring them back? She does have a great overall look and body so it is very much a possibility. Alyssa prides herself in her Native American Tlingit tribe roots and her gown presentation reflected this as she came out with her train over her shoulders like a Native outfit with embroidered Native designs on it to reveal the gown underneath and you know I love presentations like these. Hopefully Alyssa will have done enough to get Alaska that spot 27 years since their last placement!

New Jersey-Chhavi Verg

Savvy Chhavi brings some spice to this year's competition being of Indian descent like New Jersey's last semifinalist, Emily Shah. Chhavi is actually quite stunning and her video package looked wonderful showing her doing the Bharatnatyam style of dance and even letting us know her great grandmother was married around the age of 10 which meant women couldn't pursue an education so she wants to empower women to go the extra mile.

ALTERNATES:

North Carolina-Katie Coble

Katie was 2nd runner up in that famous class of Miss Teen USA 2007 finishing one spot below Alyssa Campanella who would go on to win Miss USA 2011. Now Katie has her moment to shine on the Miss USA stage and shine she did especially in this stunning gown. She has a great overall look and a lot of people really like her so she is among the ones to watch. I fear that her video package wasn't strong enough as she just talked about being shy until she started modelling. She did struggle to win a state title after competing for several years but she now has the chance so how will she fare this time around on the national stage?

Illinois-Whitney Wandland

I really, really like Whitney and it was so hard for me to put her as an alternate but I think her height may hurt her chances but there's no denying that she is very fit and her gown is wonderful but somehow with this year being reduced to a top 10 that she just might fall short.

Texas-Nancy Gonzalez

The most successful state at Miss USA has had to fight in recent years and I feel that Nancy was more of a surprise winner at her state pageant. She could do it but somehow I don't feel strongly enough about her so I put her in my alternates category.

Kentucky-Madelynne Myers

Methinks this one could be a surprise as I originally didn't have her on my radar but she does boast the ability to rap the periodic table of elements which made me think of Katherine Haik-Miss Teen USA 2015 who won her crown after singing a song naming all the U.S. presidents so will Madelynne have the right "chemistry" and score a semifinalist spot and maybe even the crown??

Wisconsin-Skylar Witte

Skylar is another one that could surprise and possibly win the Internet vote as she is a blogger with a large following so this might give her that edge. She speaks very well actually and was a published author at age 13 so she has accomplished much in her young age so keep an eye on Skylar.

HONORABLE MENTIONS:

Louisiana-Bethany Trahan

She is photogenic and this gown is amazing but somehow I feel she might just fall short. At times, she also reminds me of Britney Spears who also hails from Louisiana.

Minnesota-Meridith Gould

Meridith has a great overall look and long legs and she is a dancer so she could do it but I'm not feeling strongly enough about her and I wonder how Halima Aden will be to her as a judge so this is where I'm putting her in my list.

Georgia-DeAnna Johnson

She competed on the NBC show "The Voice" where she placed among the top 10 in her year but this time, she is competing on a FOX show. Her overall look somehow just didn't make me think that she would place but she has her fans so maybe she will pull through. We'll see what happens.

Massachusetts-Julia Scaparotti

There is that story of one hand being noticeably smaller than the other so will that interesting little aspect about her put her in the semifinals? She has a decent overall look so she also could be a surprise.

Maryland-Adrianna David

Adrianna has personality plus so she also could be a surprise in the mix. Other people seem to really like her so we'll see how she does.

In my next tier, I will mention the following delegates:

Iowa - She is quite photogenic but somehow didn't give me the impression that she would get a spot.
Arkansas - She placed at Miss Teen USA but this time around but the body didn't quite look right to me as like quite a few delegates this year, the self tanner was a bit much.
Rhode Island - Also quite photogenic but didn't come across as strong enough.
Virginia - She does have a chance but with this year's batch, I don't feel strongly enough about her.
New York - Others seem to like her and she has an interesting video package about reporting on sports car racing but again, I just didn't feel like she would place.





There’s my list for this year! So we’ll find out on Sunday, May 14 how I did and who I may have missed that ends up in the mix and who will be Miss USA 2017!

Tell everyone to watch Miss USA 2017 on Sunday, May 14 on FOX!



_________________________________________________



SECOND ROUND PRETHOUGHTS (May 8, 2017)



ArizonaNorth Carolina Preliminaries are on Thursday, May 11 at 7 p.m. PST airing on www.missuniverse.com/missusa through a live YouTube stream when we will see all 51 contestants compete in swimsuit and gown and then the 2017 Miss USA pageant will air on FOX on Sunday, May 14 at 8 p.m. Eastern Standard Time live from the Mandalay Bay Events Center back in Las Vegas, Nevada for a second year in a row. Julianne Hough will be returning to host again this year.

The number of semifinalists has been reduced back to a top 10 only which hasn't been done since 2003, just to make predicting this year that much harder, right?? The top 9 will be chosen by the preliminary judges and the 10th semifinalist will be the winner of the Internet vote. The length of the pageant has also been reduced back down to a 2 hour telecast as it used to be rather than a 3 hour telecast as was done for 2014 to 2016. It seems like the IMG era of Miss USA which started last year seems to have more emphasis on interview than on body and a lot of delegates have a background story so like always, surprises are to be expected.



I will be posting my final predictions for Miss USA 2017 on May 13 but in the meantime, I will be posting my present thoughts on each delegate.




Alabama
Baylee Smith

Alabama still has the longest running streak in the semifinals placing every year since 2010 so obviously Baylee hopes to make it a 8th year in a row. At the moment, I think the streak will probably be broken this year as she is not among my picks at the moment but we shall see if she changes my mind after preliminaries. Alabama has won the crown only once back in 1967 with Sylvia Hitchcock who would go on to win Miss Universe that year.



Alaska
Alyssa London

Alaska hasn't placed since 1990 but Alyssa is currently among my top 5 picks so I am expecting her to go very far in this competition and possibly even win it all! Alyssa is a Tlingit tribal member making her one of the few contestants with some Native American roots so her participation reflects the diversity of the States. She will be wearing a gown designed by Joey Galon and I'm very impressed with her overall so I'm really looking forward to see Alyssa do well for Alaska this year! North to the future is their motto!



Arizona
Tommy Lynn Calhoun

Tommy Lynn is among my top 10 so far. She has a great background story as mentioned in my first round prethoughts after coming from an unstable home then being adopted after connecting with a family through volunteering in emergency medicine. And let's not forget that memorable moment when she was accidentally tackled during an Arizona Wildcats football game that got a little out of bounds but she came out of it and landed perfectly so there's no stopping TLC! Arizona inherited its only Miss USA crown in 1980 after Shawn Weatherly won Miss Universe and Arizona has placed 3 years in a row and Tommy Lynn is expected to keep the streak going.



Arkansas
Arynn Johnson

Arynn is a former teen titleholder who placed in the semifinals at Miss Teen USA 2015 and she does have a good appearance but I don't know that the new direction that Miss USA seems to be going will favor her so at the moment I'm thinking I may have her as an honorable mention but we'll see if that changes after preliminaries. Arkansas has won the crown once in 1982 thanks to Terri Utley and they did place in the top 10 last year also.



California
India Williams

Tall, multicultural and just interesting are a few words to describe this unique beauty. I think India has potential to do very well this year and is currently in my top 10. India was featured in America's Next Top Model Cycle 22 but was eliminated in the first round but that didn't stop Miss India who learned to love herself unconditionally because she is a queen! The most populated state in the nation made the top 5 last year and has won the Miss USA crown 6 times (1959, 1966, 1975, 1983, 1992 and 2011).



Colorado
Sabrina Janssen

Sabrina's runner up at the state level was Kathryn Dunn who has also competed in multiple Miss Texas USA pageants making the top 5 there for 2011 and was heavily favored to win the Colorado crown but alas, it was not to be. Sabrina was more of a surprise winner and is currently not among my picks. Colorado last placed in 2012 but they have never won the crown.



Connecticut
Olga Litvinenko

Olga is one of two contestants this year who competed at Miss Teen USA 2007 (North Carolina being the other). She was born in Ukraine and emigrated to the States at the age of three with her family. She is not among my picks at the moment but she is tall and her story could win her some favor. Connecticut won their only Miss USA crown in 2013 and made the top 10 last year.



Delaware
Mia Jones

Delaware placed for the first time ever just two years ago in 2015 thanks to Renee Bull who made the top 10. Mia is a former Teen titleholder who placed among the semifinalists at Miss Teen USA 2014 but she is not among my picks at the moment.



District of Columbia
Kára McCullough

Kára was runner-up to Deshauna Barber last year at Miss DC USA and we all know what happened to Deshauna shortly after that. Kára does have an interesting background working as a scientist at the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Her video teaching children was also intriguing so it is very possible that she could be what they are looking for so she is one to watch. Can the District of Columbia pull off a back-to-back win which hasn't been done since 1989 when Texas won its fifth of 5 successive Miss USA crowns? The nation's capital has won the crown 3 times thanks to the reigning Miss USA, Deshauna Barber as well as Shauntay Hinton in 2002 and Bobbi Johnson in 1964.



Florida
Linette De Los Santos

As mentioned in my first round prethoughts, I mentioned that Linette was actually runner-up to Génesis Dávila (a former Miss Puerto Rico World and runner-up to Miss Puerto Rico Universe) who was stripped of her title due to alleged professional styling which was apparently against the rules and this led to a whole telenovela of events which ultimately led to the Miss Florida USA franchise being given to the Chrisley family of the reality show "Chrisley Knows Best" after the Gravitt family who ran that pageant for decades. Linette is not among my picks for this year. Surprisingly, the Sunshine state has yet to outright win Miss USA. Their 1967 titleholder, Cheryl Ann Patton was originally 2nd runner up that year but accepted the crown after Sylvia Hitchcock won Miss Universe 1967 and the 1st runner up did not accept the title. Florida's last placement was as 4th runner up in 2014.



Georgia
DeAnna Johnson

DeAnna's previous claim to fame was as a contestant on season 8 of The Voice making the top 10 but The Voice is an NBC show so I don't know if FOX would want to promote this since it's not one of their shows. Remember, last year's South Carolina representative Leah Lawson was on American Idol which was a FOX show. Apart from this, DeAnna is tall with a very good body so she has a strong chance of placing but I'm not totally positive so I have her as an alternate at the moment. Georgia has never won the crown even though they have several runners-up including their most recent placement, Emanii Davis who was 2nd runner up at Miss USA 2016.



Hawaii
Julie Kuo

The Aloha state has placed two years in a row now with a 1st runner up placement last year thanks to Chelsea Hardin. I think the streak stops here. Hawaii has won the Miss USA crown 4 times with their most recent winner also winning Miss Universe in 1997.



Idaho
Cassie Lewis

Placements are rare for Idaho and I'm not expecting that to change this year. Idaho last placed in 2009 and inherited the crown in 1997.



Illinois
Whitney Wandland

She is a Chicago Bulls Luvabull and dancers tend to move well on stage and Whitney was an early favorite but my concern is she is somewhat petite so I don't know if this will work against her. At the moment, I have her as an alternate but I do like Whitney a lot so she just might sneak into my top 10 if I feel strongly enough about her after preliminaries. Illinois placed in the top 15 in 2015 and they have captured the crown 4 times.



Indiana
Brittany Winchester

Indiana is not among my picks. Indiana has never won the crown but they do have a 1st runner up with Holly Dennis in 1981 and their most recent placement was in 2014.



Iowa
Kelsey Weier

Kelsey is a possible semifinalist as she does have a good overall look but Iowa doesn't place that often so we'll see if she can pull it off. I'm thinking she might end up as an alternate or honorable mention in my list after preliminaries. Iowa did make the top 6 in 2014 thanks to the Twitter save and Carol Morris in 1956 won Iowa's only Miss USA crown and later won Miss Universe that year.



Kansas
Catherine Carmichael

I'm not expecting Kansas to place. Kansas last won the crown in 1991 thanks to Kelli McCarty and they last placed in 2010.



Kentucky
Madelynne Myers

Kentucky's delegate is not expected to place this year. Kentucky won the crown once in 2006 and they placed in the top 11 in 2015.



Louisiana
Bethany Trahan

Bethany is certainly photogenic but I think she might be too petite so I'll be watching her closely during preliminaries to determine where exactly I place her. Louisiana has won the crown 3 times (1958, 1961, 1996) and last placed in the top 11 in 2015.



Maine
Brooke Harris

Probably not. Maine has never won the crown but they did have a 3 year streak placing from 2010 to 2012 but they haven't placed since.



Maryland
Adrianna David

Maryland's 5 year streak in the semifinals was unexpectedly broken last year. Adrianna seems to be winning favor with her personality so she could be a potential surprise. Maryland won the crown in 1957 but the winner, Leona Gage, was dethroned shortly after her win when it was discovered that she was a married mother of two boys who also lied about her age. Maryland also inherited the crown in 2012 thanks to Nana Meriwether who was runner-up to Olivia Culpo who would go on to win the USA's 8th Miss Universe crown in 2012.



Massachusetts
Julia Scaparotti

Julia has one hand noticeably smaller than the other and is also a New England Patriots Cheerleader so she also could potentially be a surprise and the hand visual makes her more interesting. Massachusetts has won the crown twice in 1998 and 2003 but they haven't placed since 2013.



Michigan
Krista Ferguson

There's possibilities here with Krista so I will be watching her closely in preliminaries because I have her as an honorable mention at the moment. Michigan won the crown 3 times (1990, 1993 and 2010) and last placed in 2015.



Minnesota
Meridith Gould

Reminiscent of 2015 when two Miss New Mexico (America) winners competed for Miss USA with one representing New Mexico and the other representing Louisiana, we have a repeat of that situation this year except that it involves two Miss South Dakota (America) winners competing for Miss USA 2017. Meridith was also Miss South Dakota (America) 2014 & Miss South Dakota's Outstanding Teen 2012 and South Dakota's Tessa Dee also won her state's title to compete at Miss America in 2013. Meridith is one to watch as she could do it and let's not forget that Halima Aden who wore a burkini and hijab while competing for Miss Minnesota USA made headlines for the Minnesota state pageant prior to being signed to IMG. Minnesota won its only crown in 1976 and they did make the top 20 in 2014.



Mississippi
Ashley Hamby

Ashley could do it but in this new era, I think it will be harder for her so I'm undecided on her at the moment. Mississippi has never won the crown but they were 1st runner up in 2008 and last placed in 2010.



Missouri
Bayleigh Dayton

She is not among my picks but Bayleigh is the first African-American to win Miss Missouri USA. Missouri last placed in 2016 and won the crown once in 2004.



Montana
Brooke Bezanson

Placements for Montana are extremely rare as they haven't placed since 1958 and that isn't expected to change this year.



Nebraska
Jasmine Fuelberth

Jasmine is a former Teen titleholder who competed at Miss Teen USA 2013 and didn't place there so it doesn't look too likely so she is not among my picks at the moment. Nebraska has never won and last placed in the top 20 in 2014.



Nevada
Lauren York

The host delegate is a favorite and Lauren is among my top 10 picks at the moment. She also appears to be well prepared by her state director, former Miss USA, Shanna Moakler. Nevada recently won its first crown in 2014 and had a 4 year streak in the semifinals abruptly ended last year so will Lauren bring Nevada back in a big way?



New Hampshire
Sarah Mousseau

This year's delegate is not among my picks. New Hampshire has never won but they did pull off a 1st runner up placement in 2000 and last placed in 2004.



New Jersey
Chhavi Verg

Savvy Chhavi is of Indian descent and with her bharatnatyam dance training, I think she will bring the exotic spice to the semifinals so she is among my top 10 picks at the moment. New Jersey has never won the crown and last placed in 2014 thanks to another New Jersey delegate with Indian roots, Emily Shah.



New Mexico
Ashley Mora

New Mexico did pull off a win in 1984 but placements for this state are rare. The last placement being in 2011. This year's delegate is not among my picks.



New York
Hannah Lopa

New York is not among my picks this year either as I think she may be too petite. New York has 4 Miss USA crowns (1952, 1979, 1995 and 1999) and they last placed in 2015.



North Carolina
Katie Coble

Katie is from that notable top 5 of Miss Teen USA 2007 where she placed 2nd runner up at that pageant placing one spot below Alyssa Campanella who would go on to win Miss USA 2011. I think Katie could pull off a placement but I think it will be harder this time around as she did struggle for several years trying to win her state title even competing in Alabama one year. Katie is among my picks at the moment so we'll see if she stays there after preliminaries. North Carolina won the crown in 2005 and 2009 and they last placed in 2013.



North Dakota
Raquel Wellentin

North Dakota earned its highest placement in 2014 when they finished as 1st runner up but this year's delegate is not expected to place.



Ohio
Dinaleigh Baxter

Ohio has won the Miss USA crown twice (1965 and 1981) and has a very famous 1st runner up with Oscar winning actress Halle Berry and Ohio last placed in 2016 but this year's delegate is not expected to place.



Oklahoma
Alex Smith

Oklahoma placed last year and won their first Miss USA crown the year before in 2015 thanks to Olivia Jordan. This year's delegate is decent but probably won't place.



Oregon
Elizabeth Denny

Oregon has never won the Miss USA crown but they have won Miss Teen USA 3 times (more than any other state) but Oregon hasn't had much success at Miss USA. Oregon last placed in 2004 but I'm not expecting them to place this year.



Pennsylvania
Cassandra Angst

This gorgeous fiery redhead is currently in my top 5. Cassandra does have a great overall look and a strong, relevant platform of preaching body acceptance after struggling with an eating disorder. In my first round prethoughts, I drew attention to the fact that Pennsylvania's only Miss USA, Michele McDonald was also a redhead so is Cassandra about to give Pennsylvania another red-headed Miss USA winner?? Pennsylvania won the crown in 1971 and last placed in 2014.



Rhode Island
Kelsey Swanson

Rhode Island is hovering around my alternates territory. I think she's a good delegate but could be cut so we'll see if that changes after preliminaries. Rhode Island captured its first Miss USA crown in 2012 and of course that winner, Olivia Culpo, went on to win Miss Universe and the smallest state in the union also placed as 2nd runner up in 2015.



South Carolina
Megan Gordon

Megan is among my top 5 at the moment as I feel that she will shine in the competition or at least I'm getting that impression from her. She is more of a scholastic type winning Miss Collegiate America 2014 and South Carolina is usually among the stronger states. South Carolina won the Miss USA crown three times in 1954, 1980 and 1994 and two of those winners won Miss Universe and their 1990 winner won Miss World so South Carolina's universal pageant track record is one to be revered.



South Dakota
Tessa Dee

South Dakota pulled off a rare placement last year and they had only placed twice before in 1958 and 1974. Tessa, along with Minnesota is one of two former Miss South Dakotas for Miss America competing this year at Miss USA. I am not expecting her to place though.



Tennessee
Allee-Sutton Hethcoat

I think the Volunteer state will make a strong comeback after being omitted for the last two years which is extremely rare for a competitive state like Tennessee. Allee could even pull off a win as she is quite intelligent and studies law and she has a great overall look so she is among my top 5 at the moment. Tennessee has won the crown twice thanks to two phenomenal beauties, Lynnette Cole in 2000 and Rachel Smith in 2007 so 10 years since their last win, will Allee-Sutton get a third Miss USA crown for Tennessee?



Texas
Nancy Gonzalez

Texas, the most successful state at Miss USA, has won the crown 9 times. Nancy is the fourth Latina in a row to win Miss Texas USA but I'm not sure about whether or not she will place as Texas has been pretty hit and miss in recent years so I'm leaning towards putting her as an alternate currently but we'll see if she changes my mind after preliminaries.



Utah
Baylee Jensen

Baylee is the most exciting delegate and is the one everyone has their eyes on for the simple fact that she is the first daughter of a former Miss USA to compete herself for the Miss USA crown. As the daughter of Miss USA 1989-Gretchen Polhemus, Baylee has more pressure on her than any other delegate this year to see if she can match her mother's achievement. Baylee is also stunning and she does have an amazing body thanks to some pretty spectacular genes and naturally she is among my top 5 at the moment. Utah inherited the crown in 1957 and won the crown in 1960 and that winner, Linda Bement, went on to win Miss Universe. Utah last placed in 2013. Will Baylee do it??



Vermont
Madison Cota

Vermont hasn't placed since 1982 and that isn't expected to change this year but they did win the crown back in 1955.



Virginia
Jacqueline Carroll

Jacqueline made the top 15 at Miss Teen USA 2010 as a former Teen titleholder now taking the USA stage so she is one to keep an eye on. Right now, I have her as an honorable mention but we'll see where I place her after preliminaries. Virginia won the crown twice back in 1969 and 1970 and has placed for the last 3 years including last year's amazing delegate who finished in the top 10.



Washington
Alex Carlson-Helo

Washington won the crown in 1968 and hasn't placed since 2004. This year's delegate is not expected to place.



West Virginia
Lauren Roush

She probably won't be in my list but I still will keep an eye on her during preliminaries. West Virginia last placed in 2013 and has never won the crown. Their best placement was 1st runner up in 1984.



Wisconsin
Skylar Witte

Skylar might get noticed as she is accomplished but somehow I doubt it. Wisconsin has never won but they did place in the top 10 in 2014.



Wyoming
Mikaela Shaw

Placements for Wyoming are extremely rare as they have only placed twice (1986 and 2010). This year's delegate is not expected to place.






The preliminaries are on the evening of Thursday, May 11, at 7 p.m. Pacific Standard Time webcasted on www.missuniverse.com/missusa via a YouTube stream. I will post my final predictions for Miss USA 2017 on May 13 and then May 14 is the night of finals airing on FOX at 8 p.m. Eastern Standard Time so we shall see what happens!



_________________________________________________



FIRST ROUND PRETHOUGHTS (May 1, 2017)

Deshauna Barber, Miss USA 2016Deshauna Barber, Miss USA 2016
It has been a year of highs and lows for the reigning Miss USA, Deshauna Barber, who comes from a family that served in the Army, made history as the first active member of the United States Army Reserve to be crowned Miss USA. Deshauna was also promoted to Captain and finished in the top 9 at Miss Universe 2016. Tragically, Deshauna's mother, Cordelia passed away a few months into Deshauna's reign after battling lung cancer. Still, Deshauna remained confidently beautiful and resilient and will be a shining example for pageant titleholders in the future.

Who will succeed Deshauna Barber and be crowned Miss USA 2017?? The delegates are arriving in Las Vegas. This year's pageant is being held a month earlier than last year so this is a good sign for the 2017 Miss Universe pageant to actually be held in the calendar year of 2017 as opposed to each of the 2014 and 2016 pageants which were actually held in January of the following year. Miss USA 2017, the 66th annual Miss USA pageant, will be held on May 14, 2017 at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, Nevada. Originally, there was a rumor floating that the pageant would be held in Cleveland, Ohio but like many recent pageants, it looks like those plans didn't materialize and we are back in Vegas again!

And now, here are the first round prethoughts to give you an idea of who I've got my eye on for this year's Miss USA crown! Also included are some other interesting pageant world tidbits.



All in the Family (Those Were the Days)



Baylee Jensen, Miss Utah USA 2017Gretchen Polhemus, Miss USA 1989"Boy, the way Dick Clark would host. Prizes of which the winner would boast. Pageants then were more than the most. Those were the days! And you knew where you WERE THEN! Watching pageants again and again. Mrs., we could use an intro like 'I Should Be So Lucky' again." Of course, I'm referring to 1989, a glorious era in pageantry when Texas' Gretchen Polhemus won the prestigious Miss USA crown. Little did we know then that 28 years later, Gretchen's daughter Baylee Jensen would make history and become the first daughter of a former Miss USA to compete for the Miss USA crown herself! Utah's Baylee Jensen has more pressure on her than any of the delegates competing this year and all eyes will be on her to see if she can match her mother's achievement which would make Gretchen and Baylee, the first set of mother-daughter Miss USA winners. Call it a coincidence that Miss USA is being held on May 14 which also happens to be Mother's Day?? And oh, what a mother's day it would be for Gretchen to see her beloved daughter win the Miss USA crown! Gretchen Polhemus actually dominated her year at Miss USA easily getting the highest scores in the 1989 pageant practically running away with the title and she was also the last of the five Texas aces (the five Miss Texas USAs to win Miss USA five years in a row from 1985 to 1989). No state has won the crown two years in a row after Gretchen. This also puts pressure on the District of Columbia's Kara McCullough who hopes to succeed Deshauna Barber and possibly get the nation's capital back-to-back Miss USA crowns. Kara also happened to be 1st runner up to Deshauna at the state level last year. Gretchen and Baylee also matched in placing as a runner up the year prior to winning their state titles. Gretchen was 2nd runner up to Miss Texas USA 1988, Courtney Gibbs but Gretchen would win Miss Texas USA the following year of 1989, then win Miss USA 1989 and then place 2nd runner up again but this time at Miss Universe 1989 won by Holland's Angela Visser. Baylee was also 1st runner up at Miss Utah USA 2016 to Teale Murdoch before winning the Utah title for 2017. Is this another positive sign for Baylee?? Baylee does have an amazing body obviously thanks to such pretty fantastic genes. We have seen a few like-mother-like-daughter scenarios in previous pageants like: Miss USA 2009, Kristen Dalton who is the daughter of Jeannine Boger, Miss North Carolina USA 1982 and non-finalist at Miss USA 1982; Miss Teen USA 2005, Allie Laforce who is the daughter of Lesa Rummell, Miss Ohio USA 1977 and non-finalist at Miss USA 1977; K. Lee Graham, Miss Teen USA 2014 who is the daughter of Jennifer Neuen, Miss South Carolina Teen USA 1985 and non-finalist at Miss Teen USA 1985; and Bea Toivonen, Miss Finland 2014 who is the daughter of Marja Kinnunen, Miss Finland 1985. However, being a relative of a former titleholder has historically been a hit-and-miss situation. Some examples include: Julia Dalton-Miss North Carolina USA 2015 who is the sister of Kristen Dalton, Miss USA 2009 and daughter of Jeannine Boger, Miss North Carolina USA 1982 but Julia went unplaced at Miss USA 2015 although Julia was 2nd runner up to Miss Teen USA 2008. Also, Sydney West-Miss Connecticut Teen USA 2014 who is the sister of Miss Teen USA 2012, Logan West but Sydney did not place at Miss Teen USA 2014. Both Julia and Sydney were among my top 5 in my predictions lists for their respective national pageants. Baylee's participation is what will make this year's Miss USA pageant exciting but hopefully they won't wreck it and exclude her altogether. I feel that Baylee is a very worthy contender who could take the crown and she will be among my top picks for sure. She does have competition though so will Baylee do it?? Utah has only won the Miss USA crown once which was back in 1960 when Linda Bement not only captured the Miss USA crown but the Miss Universe crown as well! Utah also inherited the 1957 Miss USA crown when Maryland's Leona Gage was dethroned as Miss USA when it was discovered that she was a married mother of two young boys who also lied about her age which led to runner-up Charlotte Sheffield inheriting the 1957 Miss USA crown.

The Texas Aces at the conclusion of the 1989 Miss Texas USA pageant won by Gretchen Polhemus with GuyRex, the pageant gurus who directed Miss Texas USA at the time. (Back Row - Left to Right: Kim Tomes-Miss USA 1977, Michelle Royer-Miss USA 1987, Gretchen Polhemus-Miss USA 1989, Christy Fichtner-Miss USA 1986. Middle Row - Left to Right: Laura Martinez Herring-Miss USA 1985, Courtney Gibbs-Miss USA 1988. Front Row - Left to Right: Richard Guy, Rex Holt)



Football...Wildcats...Football...Wildcats
She Got Knocked Down But She Got Up Again


Tommy Lynn Calhoun, Miss Arizona USA 2017 gets an apology from Brandon Dawkins of the Arizona WildcatsTommy Lynn Calhoun, Miss Arizona USA 2017Oh. If only Goldie Hawn were coaching the Wildcats this season! Wildcats can't be broken and apparently neither can Miss Arizona USA! Tommy Lynn Calhoun made headlines when, while standing in the sidelines during an Arizona Wildcats football game, she ended up being unintentionally tackled by quarterback Brandon Dawkins during a play that got a little out of bounds! But Tommy Lynn handled it like the queen she is. After the fall, Tommy Lynn said she was fine and took the opportunity to boast that she is a physical therapy technician and majored in Kinesiology so she landed perfectly! Tommy Lynn moved to Tucson, Arizona a few years ago since her boyfriend, Jake Fisher, who also played for the Arizona Wildcats, lives there. Tommy Lynn had even competed at Miss California USA for several years prior to relocating to Arizona before winning the Arizona state title after a few attempts there too. She is originally from Paso Robles in California and says she came from an unstable home until she became an active volunteer in emergency medicine which allowed her to connect with a paramedic supervisor, Holly Dunkel, who along with her husband John, adopted Tommy Lynn. While Arizona has never officially won the Miss USA crown, they did inherit the crown in 1980 thanks to Jineane Ford who placed as 1st runner up to South Carolina's Shawn Weatherly. After Shawn went on to win Miss Universe, Jineane inherited the Miss USA crown and therefore became Arizona's only Miss USA so far. Arizona has also placed three years in a row now at Miss USA and Tommy Lynn obviously hopes to keep the streak going and make it a fourth year and possibly go all the way. Can she score that touchdown??



No Matter What She's Wearing She Will Always Be India Williams

India Williams, Miss California USA 2017Shandi Finnessey-Miss USA 2004, Jaanu Patel-Miss California Teen USA 2017, India Williams-Miss California USA 2017, Susie Castillo-Miss USA 2003 She learned to love herself unconditionally because she is a queen. The enchanting Miss India is Miss California USA and at times, she reminds me of Malia Obama. The most populated state in the nation regularly has a very competitive state pageant so the Golden state is always one to watch. They have claimed the crown six times (1959, 1966, 1975, 1983, 1992 and 2011) which makes them second only to Texas who has captured the Miss USA crown nine times with one of them going on to win Miss Universe. After placing in the top five last year, can India keep the streak going? This 20-year-old who hails from the city of Lafayette does have quite a unique background and an interesting skill-set. She has studied the Chinese language of Mandarin for almost six years and she is currently a junior at Loyola Marymount University where she studies Business Entrepreneurship. She plans to pursue Intellectual Property Rights as a career. India was also a contestant on Cycle 22 of America's Next Top Model but was eliminated in the first round. She has also modelled for Sherri Hill in New York Fashion Week. With her height, she will also have a strong presence at Miss USA and I can see her doing very well this year. Can California's India take it all??



The Ten I See in Tennessee


The volunteer state is being represented by a woman with a very unique name of Allee-Sutton Hethcoat who is quite an accomplished woman juggling fulfilling her duties as Miss Tennessee USA while also studying law and working as an actress. After completing law school, Allee-Sutton wants to pursue the field of entertainment law working to ensure that female entertainers are paid equally to their male counterparts. Allee-Sutton was born and raised in the city of Franklin and graduated from Belmont University prior to attending the Nashville School of Law where she is currently in her last year. Tennessee has consistently been a very strong state at Miss USA and even though they missed the semifinals last year, it looks like they are poised to come back powerfully this year. Tennessee has claimed the Miss USA crown twice thanks to two of the most sensational winners in the pageant's history, Lynnette Cole in 2000 and Rachel Smith in 2007 so here we are ten years later since their last win with Tennessee finding itself in the very real position of potentially winning a third Miss USA crown. Will it happen??



Savvy Chhavi


Chhavi Verg is the second woman of Indian descent to represent the Garden State after Emily Shah in 2014. Currently studying Marketing and Spanish at Rutgers University, Chhavi seems to have an aptitude for language as she also speaks Hindi, Spanish and Mandarin in addition to English of course. She is also well-rounded as she has trained in Bharatanatyam Indian classical dancing and we know how well those dancers move on stage so Chhavi is an overall achiever who is one to watch this year. New Jersey has never won the crown but have placed as 1st runner up in 1991 thanks to Charlotte Ray and also have three 2nd runner ups in 1989, 1990 and 2008.



Nothing Could Be Finer Than To Be Miss Carolina

Katie Coble, Miss North Carolina USA 2017Megan Gordon, Miss South Carolina USA 2017 The Carolinas are traditionally among the strongest southern states to compete in pageants and this year is no exception as the delegates from North and South Carolina are very strong. North Carolina's Katie Coble was finally able to make it to the Miss USA stage after multiple attempts at winning her state title. Katie also memorably finished as 2nd runner up at the famous Miss Teen USA 2007 pageant featuring a famous answer that viral and such as from one Lauren Caitlin Upton who was South Carolina's teen representative that year who finished as 3rd runner up. The pageant was won by Colorado's Hilary Cruz but had a very notable 1st runner up in New Jersey's Alyssa Campanella who, as we all know, would go on to win Miss USA 2011 representing California. Even West Virginia's Chelsea Welch who was 4th runner up at Miss Teen USA 2007 went on to place as a semifinalist at Miss USA 2013. Will Katie be able to match or even surpass her achievement at Miss Teen USA?? North Carolina has won two Miss USA crowns thanks to Chelsea Cooley in 2005 and Kristen Dalton in 2009. The Palmetto state, South Carolina, is regularly a strong pageant state who sends us Megan Gordon from North Augusta. She has recently graduated from Armstrong State University earning a Bachelor's Degree in Nursing with a specialization in Pediatrics. Also a seasoned pageant veteran, Megan has also previously held the title of Miss Collegiate America 2014. Megan could be just the right combination of beauty and brains that they may be looking for. South Carolina has won the Miss USA crown three times (1954, 1980 and 1994) and two of those winners, Miriam Stevenson and Shawn Weatherly went on to win Miss Universe so is it time for the South to rise again??



Fiery Angst

Cassandra Angst, Miss Pennsylvania USA 2016Michele McDonald, Miss USA 1971Angelia Savage, Miss Florida USA 1997Debbie Shelton, Miss USA 1970 crowns Michele McDonald, Miss USA 1971The Keystone state of Pennsylvania sends us a fiery beauty this year in Cassandra Angst who struggled with eating disorders for years but now wants to spread the message of body acceptance to young girls. Cassandra is one of the few redheads competing this year and perhaps she is paying homage to Pennsylvania's only Miss USA, Michele McDonald who was also a redhead and she missed her prom to compete at Miss USA but it ended up being worth it for Michele when she won the crown back in 1971. Is Cassandra about to give Pennsylvania another red-headed Miss USA? Of course, the last red-head to win the Miss USA crown was Alyssa Campanella in 2011 who confessed that was actually born blonde but dyed her hair for an acting role and she said it brought out her true self. It's interesting to note that Cassandra is working as a model while studying nursing which reminds me of another red-head who almost won Miss USA, Florida's Angelia Savage who was also a model working as a nurse and Angelia finished 4th at Miss USA 1997 after the round of judges' questions even though Angelia won the semifinal swimsuit and evening gown competitions. Pennsylvania hasn't placed since 2014 and they have only made the top 6 three times (1971, 1993 and 2008) so will the fire on the inside and outside of Cassandra cause her to emerge triumphant as Miss USA 2017??



Go With The Flo... rida
(From Genesis to the Revelation)


Genesis Davila, the original winner of Miss Florida USA 2017 is sashed by Brie Gabrielle, Miss Florida USA 2016Savannah Chrisley, Miss Tennessee Teen USA 2016 and her father Todd Chrisley, the new director of Miss Florida USALinette De Los Santos, Miss Florida USA 2017 and Brie Gabrielle, Miss Florida USA 2016Genesis Davila was originally the first delegate chosen for Miss USA 2017 when she won the title of Miss Florida USA 2017 but she was dethroned a week later. Genesis is quite familiar to the pageant scene as prior to winning Miss Florida USA 2017, Genesis was 1st runner up to Miss Universe Puerto Rico 2013, Monic Perez. Genesis would compete at Miss Intercontinental 2012 and finished as 1st runner up and then she won Miss Puerto Rico World and competed at Miss World 2014 where she went unplaced. Just last year, Genesis also entered to win the new Miss 52 USA title for 2016 but she wasn't selected among the final 10 for that competition and was therefore eliminated. There is no Miss 52 USA for 2017 so it looks like it was just a one year gimmick. Initially, I thought Genesis' dethronement had something to do with her residency status since she is clearly from Puerto Rico but it turns out she was dethroned for using professional stylists in her hotel room instead of styling herself which is apparently against the state pageant's rules. This led to a whole telenovela unfolding as the young and the crownless Genesis took the case to court turning a beauty pageant into an ugly situation. Genesis filed a defamation lawsuit against pageant owners and pageant director, Grant Gravitt who said that the evidence used came from a photo Genesis posted on her Instagram account but Genesis' lawyer pointed out the photo was posted several days before the pageant. I have seen numerous pageant contestants be professionally styled prior to competing so I was surprised to hear that someone would be dethroned for this reason. Genesis Davila did not get her Florida title back so now we are seeing her runner-up Linette De Los Santos representing Florida at Miss USA 2017. Genesis continues to work as a model but this whole episode led to coming from Genesis in the beginning to the Revelation in the end that not only would there be a new Miss Florida USA but also that a high profile change in directorship for Miss Florida USA and Miss Florida Teen USA would become a reality. The Gravitt family has literally been directing Florida for several decades but the torch was graciously passed on to Todd Chrisley and the Chrisley family who star on the reality show "Chrisley Knows Best". Of course, you will remember that Todd's daughter Savannah Chrisley won Miss Tennessee Teen USA 2016 and placed among the semifinalists at Miss Teen USA 2016. Savannah's journey and their experience seemed to be a large contributing factor to the Chrisley family's interest in pageant directorship especially citing seeing Savannah making new friends, overcoming fear of public speaking and gaining confidence to pursue her dreams. They look forward to helping future titleholders gain exposure in various media.



Other interesting pageant tidbits from this year include:

Halima Aden who competed in the Miss Minnesota USA pageant placing among the semifinalists becoming the first contestant to compete wearing a hijab and burkini instead of a swimsuit. Halima was originally born in a refugee camp in Kenya but moved to the United States with her family when she was 7 years old.

Although, Halima did not win her state title, IMG, who owns the Miss Universe organization signed her to a modelling contract so it will be interesting to see what the future holds for Halima.



On May 8, I will post a second round of prethoughts with comments on each of the 51 delegates competing for Miss USA 2017 then after observing the preliminaries on May 11, I will post my final predictions on May 13 and then the big night is May 14 when the new Miss USA is chosen. The excitement is building with this wildly intense competition! Who will it be?


Watch Miss USA 2017 on Sunday, May 14 on FOX!


 

 BACK TO FRONT PAGE

 

Some photos courtesy Miss Universe L.P., LLLP