THOUGHTS OF MISS USA

2018





What a beautiful, wonderful, amazing Miss USA we have! It’s a first win for the Cornhusker state of Nebraska thanks to the incredibly stunning and charming, Sarah Rose Summers. Placements for Nebraska are quite rare. In fact, Nebraska hadn’t even made the top 5 since way back in 1957. As mentioned in my prethoughts, Sarah was my Miss Photogenic for this year (even though the Photogenic Award has been discontinued) and she barely missed my predictions list as my highest Next Tier delegate only because I thought they wouldn’t go for her as she was perhaps too pretty and I thought they were going for other stories and accomplishments under the IMG era but Sarah is accomplished as she has obtained 2 degrees in 4 years cum laude from Texas Christian University in Child Development and Strategic Communication, with a minor in business and she worked as a Child Life Specialist. Sarah was even my pick for 2nd runner up when she competed for Miss Teen USA 2012 when I correctly predicted the winner would be Connecticut’s Logan West but Sarah somehow went unplaced that year so it made think there was something I wasn’t seeing. Given the sparkle that Sarah has in her media interviews, Sarah definitely should have placed at Miss Teen USA as it has been a long time since I have seen a Miss USA be this bubbly and vivacious. I would even say that Sarah is the most facially beautiful Miss USA since Olivia Culpo in 2012 and we all know what happened that year so Sarah absolutely will one of my top contenders for Miss Universe later this year. Top 5 What a pleasant surprise this winner turned out to be and as has been the case in recent years, we must expect the unexpected! Sarah Summers will also be the 9th woman in history to have competed at Miss Teen USA, Miss USA and Miss Universe. The first 8 Miss USA winners to do so were: Louisiana’s Ali Landry (Miss USA 1996, 7th place at Miss Teen USA 1990, 6th place at Miss Universe 1996), New York’s Kimberly Pressler (Miss USA 1999, 45th place at Miss Teen USA 1994, unplaced at Miss Universe 1999), Tennessee’s Lynnette Cole (Miss USA 2000, 4th place at Miss Teen USA 1995 and 5th place at Miss Universe 2000), Massachusetts’ Susie Castillo (Miss USA 2003, unplaced at Miss Teen USA 1998 and top 15 semifinalist at Miss Universe 2003), North Carolina’s Chelsea Cooley (Miss USA 2005, unplaced at Miss Teen USA 2000 and top 10 semifinalist at Miss Universe 2005), Kentucky’s Tara Conner (Miss USA 2006, 3rd place at Miss Teen USA 2002 and 5th place at Miss Universe 2006), Tennessee’s Rachel Smith (Miss USA 2007, 9th place at Miss Teen USA 2002 and 5th place at Miss Universe 2007), and California’s Alyssa Campanella (Miss USA 2011, 2nd place at Miss Teen USA 2007 representing New Jersey and top 16 semifinalist at Miss Universe 2011). Two other Miss Teen USA participants also inherited the Miss USA crown and these ladies were: New York’s Shanna Moakler (Miss USA 1995-originally 2nd place but inherited the crown when Chelsi Smith became Miss Universe and Shanna was also 7th place at Miss Teen USA 1992 representing Rhode Island) and Idaho’s Brandi Sherwood (Miss USA 1997-originally 2nd place but inherited the crown when Brook Lee became Miss Universe and Brandi also won Miss Teen USA 1989 making Brandi the only woman in history to hold both the Miss Teen USA and Miss USA titles).

The Miss Universe family of pageants is showing signs of recovering after the turbulent year of 2015 when the former co-owner of the pageants since 1996, Donald Trump, announced that he was running for president and making some controversial remarks which almost derailed the 2015 Miss USA pageant since hosts, judges, sponsors and performers pulled out from participating in the pageant and even the network that co-owned the pageant since 2003, NBC, also refused to broadcast the pageant. A last minute scramble was in place with new hosts selected, former winners participating as judges and the Reelz network stepping in to broadcast the pageants knowing that the delegates should not have been punished for what was said and it all came together miraculously. After the 2015 Miss USA and Miss Teen USA pageants were held, Trump bought back his shares in the pageants from NBC and sold it all to IMG who has been running the show fully since the 2015 Miss Universe pageant even though they were involved with productions of previous pageants. The rest is history as Trump would go on to become president of the USA. In 2018, it was announced that the Miss USA and Miss Teen USA pageants would become concurrent events with all the delegates coming to the host city of Shreveport, Louisiana and the two pageants were held within days of each other with the Miss Teen USA preliminaries held on May 16, the Miss USA preliminaries on May 17, the Miss Teen USA finals on May 18 and the Miss USA finals broadcast on FOX on May 21. This was how the Miss USA and Miss Universe pageants were done from the beginning in 1952 to 1964 with the winner of Miss USA competing for the Miss Universe title just days after winning the crown. In 1965, the two pageants would become separate events. The Miss Teen USA pageant debuted in 1983 and was also its own event until this year but, as mentioned in my prethoughts, I’m surprised that having the two events held together wasn’t done sooner. Miss Teen USA last aired on NBC in 2007 and has been a webcast after that but the 2008 to 2015 Miss Teen USA pageants were held in the Bahamas at Atlantis Paradise Island owned by the Kerzner family who are friends with Trump. The pattern finder in me makes me think something might happen either to the pageants or the world after the 2030 Miss Universe pageant if 2018 is 1964, 2019 is 1963… 2030 is 1952 when the pageant debuted. Shreveport stepped in to host this year’s events 20 years after hosting the 1998 Miss USA pageant won by Massachusetts’ Shawnae Jebbia who was attending the pageant and they last hosted Miss Teen USA in the year 2000 which also happened to feature 98 Degrees as musical guests just like for this year’s Miss USA pageant so it really all came full circle! Even though, there was a lot going on during the two weeks that the ladies were in Shreveport, it all came together nicely with the two events held on one stage so the concurrent events should continue for years to come but perhaps at a later date than May during which a lot of the Teens have final exams and the ratings for this year’s event were low which I expecting given the competition on the other networks on May 21. ABC was airing finales of ‘American Idol’ and ‘Dancing With the Stars’ (Congratulations Adam Rippon!) I love Adam especially because he skated to a song I love “Let Me Think About It” by Ida Corr vs. Fedde le Grand. NBC was airing the finale of ‘The Voice’ and CBS was airing repeats of the highly rated sitcom ‘The Big Bang Theory’ which stars Kunal Nayyar who is married to Miss India 2006, Neha Kapur, who was a semifinalist at Miss Universe 2006. ‘The Voice’, ‘Dancing With the Stars’ and ‘American Idol’ all got just over 8.6 million viewers in the U.S. whereas ‘The Big Bang Theory’ got around 6 million viewers but Miss USA only got 2.35 million viewers which I was expecting given the competition so hopefully next year, there should be a better time slot given to air Miss USA.

The hosts were awesome. Vanessa Minnillo-Lachey (Miss Teen USA 1998 who won her title in Shreveport) and her husband, Nick Lachey of 98 Degrees are an amazing duo and I actually hope to see them host pageants for years to come as they really brought a lot of spunk and enthusiasm which has been lacking in recent hosts. I liked that Vanessa brought up that she was Miss Teen USA 1998 and that Nick’s group is 98 Degrees so the “98” connection meant their union was destiny! This was Nick’s first year hosting a pageant but Vanessa has hosted before including the 2007 Miss Universe pageant and the 2004 Miss Teen USA pageant. I liked that they showed a clip of Vanessa answering her final question at Miss Teen USA 1998 during the pageant. It’s nice that they incorporate the nostalgic moments for fans like me! Vanessa still also boasts the highest shown average score (when scores were shown way back in the day) which was a 9.963 in swimsuit. Nick and Vanessa also both competed in the 2017 U.S. edition of “Dancing With the Stars” with Vanessa finishing in 7th place and Nick finishing in 9th place but we’ll remember Nick’s brother Drew who was also on the 2018 stage as part of 98 Degrees won the 2nd season of “Dancing With the Stars” back in 2006 which even led Drew to co-host the 2006 Miss USA pageant alongside Nancy O’Dell who was also Miss South Carolina (America) 1987 going unplaced at Miss America 1988 but Nancy was also 1st runner up to Miss South Carolina USA 1990, Gina Tolleson who would go on to be 1st runner up at Miss USA 1990 and would later win Miss World 1990! Carson Kressley and Lu Sierra served as color commentators as they did during Miss Universe 2017. Carson was great as he has been involved with pageants for many years and Lu is the runway model coach for the delegates and she has been closely observing the girls and doesn’t hold back on most occasions but does still obviously keep some things to herself.

The opening for this year was better than last year’s in terms of the focus being on the delegates themselves and at least their names were said this year rather than just the state they were representing and it didn’t feel so rushed and you had a better chance to look at each contestant. I also liked the opening segment with the shadow of outgoing Miss USA, Kára McCullough, opening the show followed by clips of some old home videos of the contestants in their younger years leading up to the moment that each of the delegates stepped on to the Miss USA stage set to the songs “Conqueror” by Estelle and “Champion” by Carrie Underwood. It was neat how the stage had all the video screens along the walls and on the runway itself. The long runway felt very Miss America-esque to me and I have said before that I feel like the two pageants seem to be becoming each other in recent years. I like that the Miss America delegates in recent years introduce themselves presenting a fun factoid and usually with some dance moves incorporated and I wish Miss USA would go back to this.

ACTUAL TOP 15:

MY PREDICTIONS:

Winner=Nebraska-Sarah Summers

Winner=Washington-Abigail Hill

1st Runner Up=North Carolina-Caelynn Miller-Keyes

1st Runner Up=California-Kelley Johnson*

2nd Runner Up=Nevada-Carolina Urrea

2nd Runner Up=Minnesota-Kalie Wright

FINALISTS (alpha'l):

FINALISTS:

Florida-Génesis Dávila

Florida-Génesis Dávila*

South Dakota-Madison Nipe

Georgia-Marianny Egurrola*

SEMIFINALISTS (alpha'l):

SEMIFINALISTS:

California-Kelley Johnson

Ohio-Deneen Penn

Georgia-Marianny Egurrola

Mississippi-Laine Alden Mansour

Maine-Marina Gray

South Carolina-Tori Sizemore

New Jersey-Alexa Noone

Maryland-Brittinay Nicolette*

Tennessee-Alexandra Harper

Tennessee-Alexandra Harper*

QUARTERFINALISTS (alpha'l):

QUARTERFINALISTS:

Maryland-Brittinay Nicolette

Nevada-Carolina Urrea*

Massachusetts-Allissa Latham

Texas-Logan Lester*

Michigan-Elizabeth Johnson

New Jersey-Alexa Noone*

Oregon-Toneata Morgan

Wisconsin-Regina Gray

Texas-Logan Lester

Massachusetts-Allissa Latham*

 

ALTERNATES: New York, District of Columbia, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Idaho

 

HONORABLE MENTIONS: Oregon*, Michigan*, Utah, Maine*, Indiana

 

* = made actual top 15


In terms of my predictions, I picked 9 of the top 15 plus 3 honorable mentions (Maine, Michigan and Oregon). The three I missed were the winner (Nebraska), the 1st runner up (North Carolina) and South Dakota who won the online vote and also made the top 5. Nebraska and South Dakota were in my next tier below honorable mentions but North Carolina was the one that escaped my list entirely which is bizarre because I actually predicted North Carolina to win Miss Teen USA only a few days prior to the pageant! So what happened to my 6 ladies that didn’t place? Well, with IMG emphasizing stories and accomplishments first and with more weight on interview, I looked hard for signs that would tell me what they wanted (which is also why some of the better bodies in the competition didn’t place which I sensed would happen) so I picked Abigail Hill of Washington to win mainly because two of the 6 judges or members of what they now call the ‘selection committee’ were former Miss Washington USAs (Natasha Van Tramp-Curry who made the top 10 at Miss USA 1998 and Jamie Kern-Lima who went unplaced at Miss USA 2000 but later finished 4th that year in the very first season of the U.S. version of the hit reality show ‘Big Brother’) so I took this as a sign and also because I really liked Washington’s gown in the preliminaries and she does have a great figure and long legs with an emotional story of losing two loved ones to car accidents leading her to create an anti-texting and driving platform called #W82TXT so that she didn’t even place surprised me yet two of the other judges had their state girls place. Judge Denise White was Miss Oregon USA 1994 and Oregon placed this year and Crystle Stewart was Miss USA 2008 from Texas and Texas also placed this year… yet both of those two states were eliminated in the first round. Completing the all-female selection committee were Lilliana Vasquez and Paula Shugart, president of the Miss Universe Organization. In another comparison to a rival pageant, the Miss World pageant has their Chairwoman, Julia Morley sit on the judging panel each year so having Paula as a judge bears a lot of similarity to that which I understand as they have to work with the titleholder for the year and Paula certainly has had to handle some issues with past titleholders. The judges were just shown briefly pictured and captioned in a few seconds which is different to how judges have been presented in the past when each one would be described and presented individually but I guess those days are over now. The next in my list to not place was Minnesota’s Calie Wright who seemed to have done everything right. She had an amazing body and she is a Miss America crossover having represented Idaho at Miss America 2016 and she does have accomplishments as a trained vocalist and owner of a wedding venue and I think her interview skills were probably strong so I don’t know what happened there either. Next was Ohio’s Deneen Penn who was a former Miss Ohio Collegiate America titleholder so she is strong academically as she is pursuing an MBA and even had great visuals working as a beekeeper and she had a lot of great quotes and I enjoyed her very much and thought she would go far in the competition. Her gown was questionable but I took it as a bit of symbolism as the bottom part looked a bit like the top half of a beehive to remind the judges of her beekeeping skills perhaps? Mississippi’s Laine Alden Mansour was also a strong candidate as her gown presentation with the flowing cape in the preliminaries was just heavenly and her exotic Lebanese background really brought some flavor into the mix and she had a wonderful overall look and she is also studying pre-law in terms of accomplishments so I considered her to be among the stronger delegates. South Carolina’s Tori Sizemore was next and she even had to temporarily wear a brace after a foot injury only a few days prior to the pageant but she had it removed in time and she walked beautifully. Tori was also 1st runner up at Miss Teen USA 2013. In fact, Tori was the only former Teen of the 10 that were competing at Miss USA this year that placed at Miss Teen USA in her year but similarly to Miss USA 2013, this seemed to be a year where the tables turned and this year’s top two spots were given to those that didn’t place at Miss Teen USA (Nebraska and North Carolina) over those that did (South Carolina). Tori was also likened to Taylor Swift in terms of appearance and her performance was strong but I did get a feeling that she might not place after preliminaries. Finally, Wisconsin’s Regina Gray was an accomplishment pick as she is an International Baccalaureate Scholar and was inducted into the Mu Alpha Theta Math Honor Society so she is very smart and she even lost her father to a heart attack which led her to become involved with the American Heart Association so I thought she might get a spot but it wasn’t to be. I should also mention that Wyoming won the Congeniality award this year, even though it wasn't mentioned during the telecast, and Wyoming winning that award was appropriate seeing how she suffered a life-threatening condition only a few months after winning her state title but she recovered and made it to the Miss USA stage.

After the top 15 were announced, it was on to the swimsuit competition set to the songs “Excuses” by Meghan Trainor and “How Long” by Charlie Puth with the top 15 modelling Venus swimwear. I liked that each delegate was presented one at a time and it was well timed and didn’t feel too rushed this year. First up was the winner of the online vote, South Dakota. Madison must have really pushed her supporters to vote for her because she was topping the online vote in each competition throughout the night that it pushed her into the top 5. I would have liked for a little explanation during the telecast as to how much weight the at-home vote actually has but then again, they don’t reveal these details in other shows with judging panels like “Dancing With the Stars.” Madison certainly has a nice face and other people suspected her but I wasn’t too sure of her as her walk seemed a bit off at times and she wasn’t as toned as I would have liked to have seen. This is only the 4th placement for South Dakota in Miss USA history with the other years being 2016, 1974 and 1958 and this is the first time South Dakota ever made the top 5. Sarah Rose Summers of Nebraska is declared a top 10 semifinalist Georgia was up next and Marianny being of Colombian descent certainly trained like those South American girls do with a fantastic body and walk. Maine was up next and her story of being a successful leader in the military receiving Non-Commissioned Officer of the year at her Unit and was legally emancipated from her troubled family at age 16 got her a spot in spite of her height. She is certainly fit though and the military angle was done by Deshauna Barber who won Miss USA 2016 but I actually was surprised that Maine advanced to the top 10 over Maryland. Texas was up next and Logan was another achiever having completed high school in 3 years and working as a realtor in the Houston area. Had Logan not placed, it would have been the first time in history that Texas hadn’t placed 3 years in a row but that just couldn’t happen to the most successful state at both Miss USA and Miss Teen USA so will there ever be a time that Texas doesn’t place for more than 2 years in a row at Miss USA?? New Jersey was next and she also had a strong story of wanting to become a police officer and currently works as a flight attendant and has two brothers that are mentally and physically disabled. New Jersey is also one of 4 of this year’s semifinalists to have competed at Miss California USA in the past. The others being California (of course), Oregon and Nevada. Alexa Noone had that exotic look and very fit body and no one, no one, no one could get in the way of Miss Noone was feeling! Next up was our queen, Nebraska, who looked very stunning but apart from being so beautiful, I liked her mannerisms throughout the night as she really was entertaining and personable. Next up was Florida who probably had one of the most controversial paths to get to the Miss USA stage. Genesis had competed for the Miss Florida USA 2017 title and won it only to be stripped of it days later when it was alleged that she used professional stylists which was against the rules and this led to a lawsuit that was later settled but Genesis would not compete at Miss USA 2017 where Florida was represented by her runner-up, Linette De Los Santos who went unplaced in 2017. Later, the Gravitt family who held the Miss Florida USA franchise for decades would lose it to the Chrisley family from the reality show “Chrisley Knows Best” and they also just obtained the Miss California USA franchise. With the new ownership, Genesis competed again for the 2018 Florida title and won again showing us how persistent and perseverant she is. Genesis is a seasoned pageant veteran having placed as 1st runner up to Miss Puerto Rico Universe 2013, Monic Perez and Genesis would represent Puerto Rico at Miss Intercontinental 2012 finishing as 1st runner up there. She would go on to win the Miss Puerto Rico World title but she would go unplaced at Miss World 2014. She even tried out for the short-lived Miss 52 USA title in 2016. So you can see what a telenovela of events Genesis had to go through to get to the Miss USA stage. She certainly showed us why she has such a storied pageant history as she showed us her fit body with her long legs and commanding catwalk. Of course, her story was helping out with the relief efforts after her native Puerto Rico was ravaged by Hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017. Next up was Nevada, Ooh Na Na and Carolina performed well and has a great body. She had competed in California for a few years. Such was also the case of Miss USA 2014, Nevada’s Nia Sanchez. Carolina was 4th runner up at the 2016 Miss California USA pageant and a semifinalist at the 2017 Miss California USA pageant and also tried out for past editions of the Nuestra Belleza Latina reality show competition. Massachusetts was next and I’m glad I included her in my list at the last minute since she placed due to her story of overcoming Sjogren’s syndrome and her achievement was worked as an Integration Architect and is also pursuing her MBA. She did have a sassy presentation in the preliminaries with a fierce gown twirl but we didn’t get to see it during the telecast as she was eliminated in the first round. Maryland was next and she did have a great overall look. She was also very emotional speaking about her grandmother during her introduction video and she was also an achievement pick since she is a Transplant Coordinator facilitating organ recoveries for the purpose of life saving organ transplants and she is an advocate for Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence Awareness after experiencing it herself. Tennessee was next and she was the main legacy story in this pageant as Alexandra is the daughter of Miss Tennessee USA 1981, Sharon Kay Steakly and I loved that they showed footage from 1981 of her competing. Both mother and daughter can be proud that they both finished in the top 11 in their respective years at Miss USA. Alexandra is very tall and she has a great body and overall look and she is also quite diversified in that she owns a business, writes, works as a stylist, cooks and experiments with coding for webpage design. She is a working host on a television program and filmed a documentary on women in recovery from addiction and became involved with the program afterwards. Oregon was next as I had my suspicions about her which is why I had her as one of my honorable mentions. She does have a good look but I think her look appeals more to men than women so with an all-female judging panel, it wasn’t surprising that she didn’t make it past the first round but she is an entrepreneur and works as an actress, host and model. Next up was North Carolina who is experienced being a former Teen titleholder having represented Virginia at Miss Teen USA 2013 but going unplaced there. Caelynn does have a quiet confidence about her so even though I didn’t see her coming, there were others who did and that does annoy me sometimes when I can’t see it and others can. Michigan also placed due to the Krav Maga visuals but her height was a hindrance so she would be eliminated in the first round. Finally, California was tall and striking and we’ll all remember her as the 2nd runner up at Miss America 2016 who uniquely did a monologue about her profession of nursing as her talent and her answer during the pageant of saying Ellen Degeneres should be the first woman to appear on the $10 bill which led to an invite on Ellen’s show and more scholarship money! I had a feeling all this affiliation with ABC would prevent her from the Miss USA win on FOX which is why I dropped her from my winner to 1st runner up in my predictions but I’m surprised that she didn’t make the top 5. I did hear that Lu Sierra wasn’t impressed with her walk and something about it did seem a bit off but Kelley is an amazing woman with a promising future ahead of her.

After the top 10 were announced, there was a video segment where some of the delegates were featured talking about having experienced a #MeToo moment and how they overcame it keeping with the theme of empowering women. It was then time for the evening gown competition featuring Lee Brice performing his songs “Rumor” and “I Don’t Dance.” California was up first and California also now holds the longest current streak in the semifinals placing 3 years in a row now. Kelley looked really classically stunning in this elegant black gown with a high slit so I’m surprised that she didn’t advance but I’m guessing it was the hair as some feel that it aged her. Maine followed in a light blue illusion gown with appliqués on it and a train but this was as far as she would go. The bottom of the gown was so tight that she couldn’t take very large steps. Nevada followed and if her gown looks familiar, it would be because it was designed by Alfredo Barraza who is the same designer of the gown worn by Colombia’s Ariadna Gutierrez who was 1st runner up at Miss Universe 2015. Carolina’s gown had the same sparkly material which looks amazing on stage under the lights but this gown had sleeves and you could feel that Carolina knew she looked amazing. Tennessee had a nice flesh-toned illusion gown that sparkled and it had a nice train and it was striking and classy. New Jersey followed in also in a flesh-toned illusion gown that sparkled and it looked decent. Nebraska followed in a black gown holding the train open and some likened this to a Batman (or should we say Batwoman) logo and it was said that she originally tried on this gown in yellow to match her sunny personality. I seem to recall someone named Jeannie Mai telling us multiple times that yellow was the color of joy but I actually liked the black because it is a classic formal gown color and you could see her whereas yellow probably would have washed her out. Sarah is among many Miss USA winners that won the crown in black in addition to Courtney Gibbs in 1988, Carole Gist in 1990, Shannon Marketic in 1992, Lu Parker in 1994, Brook Lee in 1997, Lynnette Cole in 2000, and Chelsea Cooley in 2005. North Carolina followed in an orangey-red strapless gown that was a bit too simple for my taste but I guess that color really popped on stage. Georgia followed in a nice blue illusion gown that allowed her to really show off her catwalk skills. Next up was South Dakota in a flesh-toned swimsuit with a gown covering it for that illusion effect which as you can tell is very popular. This gown and her overall look reminded me a lot of Oklahoma’s delegate in 2012 minus the bangs. I felt it didn’t really flatter her body shape and her walk wasn’t as strong. Finally, Florida came out in a surprisingly hot mess of somebody’s screen door to keep the mosquitoes away all mangled up and shaped into the form of a gown with all these odd layers on it. I was shocked that anyone even considered this gown as it was just way too costumey and just not right for the evening gown competition and this catwalk queen could barely walk in it. She has had many nice gowns over her years of competing so I wish she had gone with one of those.

Top 5Before they announced the top 5, I was glad to see them acknowledge and feature the newly crowned Miss Teen USA, Hailey Colborn alongside her sister queen, Vanessa Lachey. It was then time for the top 5 to do a question and answer round with the questions being posed by another delegate in the top 5. I thought this was interesting and something similar to this was done at Miss World 2000 won by India’s Priyanka Chopra but it was the host Jerry Springer who asked the questions from the other delegates in the top 5 rather than the delegates themselves. It did get a bit confusing and messy at times but it worked. I wonder if they will continue this in future pageants though. Nevada was up first who was asked Nebraska’s question and Nebraska cutely incorporated a “Hello, Carolina!” which I liked and it showed how at ease Sarah was during the competition and that she was having fun and I’m sure the judges appreciated this quality that she possessed. The question Nebraska asked was, “Tell me about a time when you felt unworthy and how you overcame it.” Nevada replied, “A time that I felt unworthy was when my family and I became homeless and experienced this hardship a couple years ago. I felt like I could never accomplish anything in life but through this circumstance, it just brought my family and I stronger together and I really learned how to appreciate life and never take anything for granted so through this situation, I, I found myself worthy and, and I’m grateful for that experience because that made me who I am today.” This was a strong answer and seemed prepared in advance but perhaps she didn’t connect as strongly with the audience as some of the others did. Florida was next and was asked a question from North Carolina, “Sexual assault is an issue at universities across the United States. What do you believe can be done to better protect women on college campuses?” Florida replied, “I believe, um, in college campuses should have different groups and activities where women can self-defend themselves and that would be a opportunity for them to be able to make it better. Yes.” And thus began the exodus of Genesis. She may have struggled with her English but even though this answer was concise, I also think the answer had a low-energy delivery. Nebraska was then asked Florida’s question, “One in four children in the United States live in a single parent household. How has that affected our generation’s views on marriage and family?” Nick Lachey, Vanessa Lachey, Sarah Rose Summers Nebraska answered, “I am so grateful to have grown up in a home with two parents. Hi, parents out there! Um, and so I can’t personally relate to this. However, I do work in children’s hospitals that is a certified child life specialist where I am the liaison between the children and families and the medical team and I’ve seen single mothers at the bedside working remotely on their computers to stay by their children and support them and I think that it just shows the children, no matter if it’s a boy or a girl, that they can do that.” This was a nice answer. I liked that she incorporated her job and first-hand experience of her understanding of this question in the answer and it also helped that she said hi to her parents which reminded me of what Miss USA 2010, Rima Fakih, did for her winning answer. North Carolina was next and was asked a question by South Dakota, “The Boy Scouts recently decided to accept girls into their organization. Do you feel this is a positive change, and do you think there is value in single-gender organizations?” North Carolina replied, “I think this is a great change. I think we are in a time in America where, not America, we’re at a time in the whole world where gender equality is a huge thing. I believe in ten, twenty years from now, women and men are going to be complete equals and we are making those steps right now with, with the Boy Scouts. Thank you.” I recall hearing similar answers ironically twenty years ago about the fight for gender equality and answers like these are normally well received so of course, North Carolina would advance to the next round. South Dakota was asked Nevada’s question, “During the last presidential election, more than one third of women neglected to exercise their right to vote. Why do you think that is?” South Dakota replied, “You know, I’m not sure why that is. I think that women are perfectly capable of expressing how they feel and they should be able to vote and they, they should express that, um, at the polls and I think that we need to get out there as women and show that we are perfectly capable of doing that. Thank you.” This was a fair answer but it wasn’t enough to pull her through to the next round. I think Nebraska and North Carolina were stronger here and I attribute that to their past experiences as Miss Teen USA delegates so I think it paid off and really showed here and set them apart.

Finally, the top 3 (all from states starting with “N” coincidentally) were asked the final question. “You’re on your way to a march and someone hands you a blank sign and a marker. What do you put on your sign, and why?” Nebraska answered, “I say, ‘Speak your voice.’ I don’t know what march we’re on our way to in this hypothetical situation but no matter where you’re going, whatever type of march it is, you’re obviously on your way to that march because you care about that cause so go speak to people, when they have questions, communicate with them, listen to their views also. That is one thing in the United States that we really need to focus on is listening to each other.” I liked this answer and what I liked even more was how she injected a bit of humor saying she didn’t know what type of march it was in that hypothetical situation and her natural-sounding delivery and tone were all just excellent. North Carolina replied, “I would put on my sign, ‘Your body. Your rights.’ As someone who was sexually assaulted, as someone who stood up and fought against my perpetrators, I am all about marching for your body, for your rights. Nobody ever has the opportunity, or has the right to touch you, to drug you, to do anything, to sexually assault you, harass you. That’s never acceptable.” This was also a great answer and it provided a little insight into why she placed as her story about fighting against her perpetrators must have resonated well with the judges. I also liked that North Carolina revealed that the music playing on the headphones was by Pitbull. Finally, Nevada answered, “I’d put on my sign, ‘Let’s work together to eliminate homelessness.’ Um. There are approximately 500,000 people suffering from this situation on a given night and in my state in Nevada, we are ranked number 3 in the whole nation for having that much amount of homeless youth. I want to be an advocate and continue to raise awareness for the situation because if I experienced this first-hand, I can use my platform to raise awareness for these youth to never give up on their dreams, no matter your circumstance. Your past does not define your future. You can make anything happen if you believe because if I can, they can too.” Nevada may have touched on the homeless issue one too many times. It reminded me of Miss Teen USA 1996 when California’s delegate kept talking about peer pressure. It was a nice answer with a positive message perhaps sounding a bit more rehearsed than the other two but there’s no debating though that Nevada was coached well.

Sarah Rose Summers during final look with 98 DegreesSarah Rose Summers reacts to winning Miss USA 2018The final 3 did their final look to a performance by 98 Degrees singing, “The Hardest Thing” and “I Do.” The music video for “I Do” stars Miss USA 1996, Louisiana’s Ali Landry and Nick Lachey met his future bride, Vanessa when she was featured in the video for his song, “What’s Left of Me.” The set design with the lampposts was also exquisite. After Kára McCullough did her farewell walk incorporating some twirls, it was time to announce the results with Nevada declared 2nd runner up and when it was down to the final two, I loved how Nebraska funnily gave the hosts the evil eye for holding out the results a little longer but then it was announced that North Carolina was 1st runner up and Nebraska winning its first Miss USA crown thanks to the enchanting Sarah Rose Summers who will go on to represent the USA on the Miss Universe stage later this year. Will Sarah get a 9th Miss Universe crown for the USA? For the first time in many years, Miss USA was awarded a car this year which was an Alfa Romeo and the Miss Teen USA winner won a Fiat car so kudos to the organization and the sponsors for getting a better prize package for this year. And let me just sing the praises of our wonderful Miss USA, Sarah Rose Summers who was a pleasant surprise and I hope she has a wonderful reign.










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Some photos courtesy Miss Universe L.P., LLLP