THOUGHTS OF MISS USA
SECOND ROUND PRETHOUGHTS (April 23, 2018) Alabama
District of Columbia
FIRST ROUND PRETHOUGHTS (April 15, 2019)
Some photos courtesy Miss Universe L.P., LLLP
Preliminaries are on Monday, April 29 at 5 p.m. Pacific Standard Time being webcast 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 2019 Miss USA pageant will air on FOX on Thursday, May 2 at 8 p.m. Eastern Standard Time live from the Grand Sierra Hotel and Casino in Reno, Nevada hosted by Nick and Vanessa Lachey. Spread the word and get people to watch Miss USA on FOX this year!
The ladies have arrived in Reno. There should be a top 15 this year similarly to last year. The length of the pageant is still a 2 hour telecast as it was last year. A 3 hour telecast was done for 2014 to 2016. It seems like the IMG era of Miss USA which started in 2016 seems to have more emphasis on interview and unique accomplishments first before body or beauty and a lot of delegates have a background story so like always, surprises are to be expected. This year is also extremely competitive so it's going to be difficult to predict who actually will make the final cut.
I will be posting my final predictions for Miss USA 2019 on May 1 but in the meantime, I will be posting my present thoughts on each delegate.
Alabama hasn't placed since 2016 when their long-running streak in the semifinals which ran from 2010 to 2016 was broken. Here we have another Hannah with a chance to bring them back. Last year, Alabama's Hannah Brown did not place but would go on to compete on 'The Bachelor' and is soon to star in the next season of 'The Bachelorette.' As for Hannah McMurphy, I have her as a next tier delegate as she is photogenic but she works as a make-up artist and I think IMG is looking for more in terms of accomplishments. Alabama has won the Miss USA crown only once back in 1967 with the late Sylvia Hitchcock who would go on to win Miss Universe that year.
Alaska placed in 2017 among the top 10 which was their first time placing since 1990 but the northernmost state has never won the Miss USA crown. This year's candidate doesn't quite strike me as semifinalist material so I don't expect her to place.
Savannah was Miss Arizona Teen USA 2014 and made the top 15 at Miss Teen USA 2014. She has accomplishments in the music world working with some high profile music companies and she has performed in Carnegie Hall. I currently have her among my top 15 as I feel that she is a strong overall candidate but will thay change after preliminaries? Arizona inherited its only Miss USA crown in 1980 after Shawn Weatherly won Miss Universe and Arizona had placed 3 years in a row from 2014 to 2016 but hasn't placed since so will Savannah bring them back?
Another Savannah is competing representing Arkansas and what is interesting about her is that was originally 1st runner up at Miss Arkansas (America) 2016 and when Arkansas' Savvy Shields won the Miss America crown for 2017, Savannah inherited the crown of Miss Arkansas. She has a degree in Broadcast Journalism and is currently pursuing her Juris Doctor at the University of Arkansas School of Law. Arkansas is not among my picks at the moment 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 in 2016.
Erica is a favorite this year and she is currently in my top 5. She is accomplished as an employee of Google working as a People Operations Business Partner. At 27, she is one of the more mature delegates competing and holds a Masters in International Business and a Bachelors in Political Science from the University of Florida. The most populated state in the nation has the longest streak in the semifinals currently placing three years in a row from 2016 to 2018 and Erica is expected to keep the streak going. California has won the Miss USA crown 6 times (1959, 1966, 1975, 1983, 1992 and 2011).
Madison does have some strong accomplishments as she graduated Summa Cum Laude with a Bachelor's Degree from Johnson & Wales University in three years and is currently a subcontractor in a male-dominated industry. I don't think she quite has the body for this competition but maybe her accomplishments could pull her through so she might show up as a next tier delegate on my list depending on preliminaries. Colorado last placed in 2012 but they have never won the crown.
Acacia has quite the pageant career and is currently among my top 15 as I feel strongly about her success rate as she has won other titles like Miss Connecticut's Outstanding Teen 2009 and Miss Connecticut 2014 placing in the top 16 at Miss America 2015 and also placing in the semifinals at Miss Florida USA 2018 along with this year's delegates from Florida and Pennsylvania. She is also a classically trained ballerina and a Broadcast Journalist in the world of horse racing which is a more unconventional field so I think these could be points of interest. Connecticut won their only Miss USA crown in 2013 and last made the top 10 in 2016.
Delaware placed for the first time ever in 2016 thanks to Renee Bull who made the top 10. Jolisa is not among my picks at the moment.
DC missed the semifinals last year after winning two consecutive Miss USA crowns in 2016 and 2017. Will Cordelia bring DC back in a similar way that Indonesia did at Miss Universe 2018 after missing the semifinals at Miss Universe 2017 breaking a streak they had going? Cordelia does have achievements as she has earned a Master's degree of Social Work and has a story about being raised in foster care which immediately makes me think of Miss Teen USA 1993, Charlotte Lopez. She has more of a smaller frame so I don't think she'll place but I have her as a next tier delegate currently. The nation's capital has won the crown 4 times thanks to Kára McCullough in 2017, Deshauna Barber in 2016, Shauntay Hinton in 2002 and Bobbi Johnson in 1964.
Nicolette is a contender. I have her in my top 10 at the moment possibly moving up after preliminaries. She has competed quite a few times at Miss Florida USA regularly placing as a runner-up and was even 1st runner up to last year's Miss Florida USA, Génesis Dávila who placed in the top 5 at Miss USA 2018. A self-proclaimed tomboy, Nicolette is currently obtaining her Master's degree in Sports Management and shatters glass ceilings by working in a male-dominated field of sports reporting for the NFL team, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. We all know how much they love the tomboy competing in pageants angle, right? 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. Can Nicolette do it for Florida???
This living Barbie has remained a strong contender but her look is polarizing in today's era of pageantry so it's hard to say what exactly is going to happen with her. On beauty alone, this Czech stunner scores very high points but an all-female panel of judges may not be as receptive to her. She is in my top 5 at the moment as she is achieved but I saw an interview online where she seemed somewhat reserved so while she was once my winner, she currently is just in my top 5 but after preliminaries, we'll see if I can't resist giving her the win. Katerina does have significant achievements being an accountant who enjoys a successful social media following and is an influencer for brands like Sherri Hill who is a sponsor this year and Katerina is an entrepreneur who started her own line of cosmetics and helps support other entrepreneurs through the Kiva program. Regardless of what happens, Katerina is destined for success. Georgia has never won the crown even though they have several runners-up and they placed in the top 10 last year. Will Katerina finally do it for the Peach state?
The Aloha state last placed in 2016 and got a 1st runner up placement that year thanks to Chelsea Hardin. Lacie is passionate about environmental causes and she certainly is photogenic and she was among my picks at one time but now I feel she may be among my honorable mentions. Hawaii has won the Miss USA crown 4 times with their most recent winner also winning Miss Universe in 1997.
Placements are rare for Idaho. However, Shelby does have a story about losing 60 pounds and she has earned a degree in Supply Chain and Operations Management and runs her own business as a professional makeup artist and hairstylist. She is favored by others but I have her as an honorable mention at the moment. We'll see if she can change my mind after preliminaries. Idaho last placed in 2009 and inherited the crown in 1997.
Alexandra was a semifinalist at Miss Teen USA 2012 and she does have a great look so at the moment, I have her as an honorable mention. She holds a Bachelor's degree of Liberal Arts in Media Communications and a Certificate in Multicultural Studies and is passionate about heart health awareness. Illinois last placed in 2017 and they have captured the crown 4 times.
Tate certainly seems like a nice person but I'm not seeing enough about accomplishments and the body isn't quite strong enough for the competition so I don't foresee a placement for Indiana this year. 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 is not among my picks this year as she doesn't quite seem achieved enough for this era and I'm not quite sure about the body. 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 also won Miss Universe that year.
As mentioned in my first round prethoughts, Alyssa is in my top 15 in the moment as she is significantly achieved earning the highest honor in the girl scouts and also holding a degree in political science. You might remember her floral gown from when she competed at Miss Teen USA 2013 placing among the semifinalists that year. She is a part-time resident of Sleeping Beauty's Castle in Disneyland and also placed as 3rd runner up at Miss California USA 2018. Alyssa has a knowingly confident vibe about her and I think she will do very well in interviews. Kansas last won the crown in 1991 thanks to Kelli McCarty and they last placed in 2010.
Jordan could pull off a surprise placement. She is pursuing a degree in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Kentucky in the honors program which favors this era of accomplishments. I have her as a next tier delegate presently but she could move up after preliminaries. Kentucky won the crown once in 2006 and they placed in the top 11 in 2015.
She is a nurse with a decent body but I'm not quite sure that she is strong enough to get a spot this year so I have her as a next tier delegate currently. Louisiana has won the crown 3 times (1958, 1961, 1996) and last placed in the top 11 in 2015.
Preliminaries will be a determining factor but as of right now, I have her as a next tier delegate as she does have an interesting story about giving up a modelling career with Elite Models to pursue a degree in Environmental Science due to her passion for environmental causes. Maine has never won the crown but they did have a 3 year streak placing from 2010 to 2012 and they did place last year so is there another streak in the works for Maine?
Mariela is of Puerto Rican descent and was Miss Maryland Teen USA 2014 but went unplaced at Miss Teen USA that year. She is also a graduate of Towson University, where she completed her Bachelor’s Degree in Communication Studies. At the moment, I have her as an honorable mention but we'll see if that changes after preliminaries. Maryland's 5 year streak in the semifinals was unexpectedly broken in 2016 but they did come back and place last year. Maryland won the crown in 1957 but that 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.
As mentioned in my first round prethoughts, Kelly is very much the type of achiever that the IMG era would favor. Kelly graduated with Honors from Harvard University with a double major in Social Studies and East Asian Studies. She worked in Corporate Strategy at The Walt Disney Company and she even earned her MBA from Harvard Business School. She will be in my top 15 but in terms of body, I'm not sure if she will advance further but I'm absolutely reserving a spot for her in my list. Massachusetts has won the crown twice in 1998 and 2003 and they did place last year.
I have Alyse as an alternate at the moment as I'm not quite sure about her but she could place. She is a spokesperson for Alfa Romeo who did give a car to the winner last year but I don't know if they are doing that again this year so hmmm... She could move into my list after preliminaries. Michigan won the crown 3 times (1990, 1993 and 2010) and placed last year.
Cat went unplaced at Miss Teen USA 2014 which makes me question so I look at her achievements as she does hold a Bachelor of Science in Biology degree from Baylor University and plans to be a dermatologist. At the moment, I have her as an alternate but she could move up after preliminaries. Minnesota won its only crown in 1976 and they last placed as 2nd runner up in 2017.
She is a nursing student at Troy University in Alabama and a former cheerleader for the New Orleans Saints. I don't quite think she is achieved enough so she is not among my picks at the moment. Mississippi has never won the crown but they were 1st runner up in 2008 and last placed in 2010.
Miriah Jo Ludtke
Miriah is a daughter of a foster child and a sister of a physical assault victim which could be a point of interest and is also a businesswoman and likes to travel. I have her as a next tier delegate presently but barely as I need to see more of her so preliminaries will be a determining factor here. Missouri won its only Miss USA crown in 2004 and they last placed in 2017.
Grace has some stories as she is a former athlete affected by an injury and a Child Protection Specialist with a Master's in Social Work but she doesn't quite have the body even though she has height so I'm not expecting a placement but Montana hasn't placed since 1958 so maybe they could be due for a surprise.
Nebraska is not among my picks this year even though they won the crown last year which normally adds pressure. Lex holds a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology with minors in Business and in Child, Youth and Family Studies and her father is a former NFL player turned expert stock trader.
The host delegate is also one of a few delegates of Samoan descent to ever compete at Miss USA. Nevada did place as 2nd runner up last year and did win the crown in 2014. This year's delegate is not expected to place.
Alexis has a great, distinct look with the fresh face and the curly hair and I find her charming but I fear that the body may not be strong enough for the competition so I have her as an honorable mention at the moment but she can easily move up into my list if she impresses me in preliminaries. She was born in Washington state but moved east to earn a Bachelor's degree in Chemistry at Southern New Hampshire University so her background and look seems to be somewhat similar to Miss USA 2017, Kára McCullough. New Hampshire has never won but they did pull off a 1st runner up placement in 2000 and last placed in 2004.
Manya is in my top 5 as she is a very strong overall candidate as she has a great body, strong presence, an exotic look and she is smart so the win could very well be hers. Manya graduated from Bucknell University earning a Bachelor of Science in Biology. She held a stem cell internship at Harvard University and has been published in several medical journals. Manya is the third woman of Indian descent to represent New Jersey but no woman of Indian descent has won Miss USA yet. The closest was Chhavi Verg who placed as 1st runner up in 2017 so is it time? Will Manya be the one to do it? New Jersey has never won the crown but they did make the top 10 last year and Manya is expected to make it three placements in a row for the Garden State.
Alejandra is in my top 10 at the moment. She has proven herself to be a strong contender possessing a strong and serene look and having placed as a runner-up at Miss Texas USA several times before taking the New Mexico crown. She is of Mexican descent and is fluent in Spanish and holds a Master's degree in Accounting. New Mexico did pull off a win in 1984 and placements for this state are rare with the last placement being in 2011 so Alejandra is expected to bring the land of enchantment back in a big way.
I think her achievements are good. She holds a degree in forensic psychology aiming to be a Physician Assistant. She holds a black belt second degree in Tae Kwon Do and is working to end domestic violence by helping implement programs to give a voice to non-English speaking victims. She has been in and out of my list quite a bit so I'm on the fence with Florinda and have her as an alternate. I do think her look is good but her walk might need work. New York has 4 Miss USA crowns (1952, 1979, 1995 and 1999) and they last placed in 2017.
Cheslie is one of my top picks currently in my top 5 but she might not be sporting the big curls in her hair like I was hoping so we'll see if that affects her or maybe she's a quick change artist? She has strong achievements as she has earned both a law degree and MBA from Wake Forest University and works as a full-time attorney. She also is a competitive athlete and runs a fashion blog. North Carolina won the crown in 2005 and 2009 and they last placed as 1st runner up last year.
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 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. Now we have Alice who previously competed at Miss America 2017 where she went unplaced but did win a lifestyle and fitness award. Alice's main gimmick is that she is promoting a photoshop-free lifestyle by submitting a headshot that hasn't been airbrushed and encourages this when posting on social media. Will it work? It's possible that the IMG era of pageantry could embrace this so we'll see if she pulls it off. She is pursuing a degree in marketing with a minor in fashion studies and a certificate in digital engagement so while her message is modern, I don't know that she quite has the achievements yet so I'm thinking I may have her as an honorable mention.
Oklahoma last placed in 2016 and they won their first Miss USA crown the year before in 2015 thanks to Olivia Jordan. Triana also represented Oklahoma at Miss America 2018 where she went unplaced breaking an eight year streak that they had in the semifinals so I'm not sure if there's something I'm not seeing because I think she is quite accomplished. She is a graduate of Oklahoma State University and working as a Native American ambassador promoting sports programs. Her multiracial background could also be a point of interest so at the moment, she is in my list but we'll see if that changes after preliminaries.
Oregon has never won the Miss USA crown but they have won Miss Teen USA three times but Oregon hasn't had much success at Miss USA. Oregon did place last year but this year's delegate is not expected to place.
Kailyn is among my picks this year as she is strong all-around and currently in my top 10. She is tall and achieved being a law school graduate after a ballet career ended due to an injury so there's a good story here. Kailyn has previously competed at Miss Florida USA placing as a runner-up multiple times before hopping to Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania won the crown in 1971 and last placed in 2014.
I don't think this delegate will place this year. 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.
MaKenzie has a multiracial background but I'm not seeing enough in the achievements category other than she is pursuing a nursing degree. South Carolina last placed in 2017 when they made the top 5 and they 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 has pulled off rare placements recently making the top 5 last year and the top 10 in 2016 and they had only placed twice before in 1958 and 1974. Abigail isn't as experienced in pageantry but she does have a fresh look and in terms of achievements, she held an executive position in the digital marketing and holds a broadcast journalism degree. She is one to watch so at the moment, I have her as an alternate.
Savana recently got engaged and some think this might derail her from focusing on the crown but she does have significant achievements. She is a civil engineer and Belmont University graduate holding a Bachelor of Arts Degree triple majoring in International Business, Marketing, and Spanish. She is quite handy and diversified as a beekeeper and is passionate about caring for cancer patients. At the moment, she is among my picks as Tennessee is normally. Tennessee has won the crown twice thanks to two phenomenal beauties, Lynnette Cole in 2000 and Rachel Smith in 2007 and the Volunteer state placed in the top 10 last year.
Texas, the most successful state at Miss USA, has won the crown 9 times. Alayah is passionate about reading and promotes literacy with her "Read the Way" campaign and she is currently studying at the University of Texas at San Antonio. Texas is among my picks at the moment but a placement for Texas hasn't been such a sure thing in recent years but they did make the top 15 last year.
Height is a concern here but Amanda has a great look and has accomplishments such as graduating cum laude from Ohio University and worked in public relations before pursuing acting. Currently, I have her as a next tier delegate. 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.
Vermont hasn't placed since 1982 and that isn't expected to change this year but they did win the crown back in 1955.
Courtney has mesmerizing eyes and she did place as a semifinalist at Miss Teen USA 2012 where she represented Georgia. She has been working five years in the military continuing a long family tradition, serving as a Psychological Operations Specialist in the United States Army Reserve. The military angle makes me think of Miss USA 2016, Deshauna Barber and Maine's delegate that placed last year so Courtney is one to watch. I have her as an alternate at the moment but I'm thinking of moving her into my list after preliminaries. She also attends Marymount University pursuing a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Communication with a double minor in Sociology and Social Work. Virginia won the crown twice back in 1969 and 1970 and had a 3 year streak from 2014 to 2016 so is it time for a return?
Washington won the crown in 1968 and hasn't placed since 2004. She works as a paralegal and also does commercial fishing in Alaska which could be a point of interest but I'm not expecting her to place. It should be noted that Evelyn won Miss Washington USA on her eighth attempt at winning a Miss state title.
You all very well know Haley will be in my list! Haley was my prediction to win Miss Teen USA 2013 where she finished as 2nd runner up so we shall see what fate holds for her at Miss USA and if she becomes the second woman to top my lists at both Miss Teen USA and Miss USA after Alyssa Campanella. Haley has pop-star looks and a vivacious personality and is a graduate of New York Film Academy and is pursuing a degree in marketing from Lindenwood University while working in interior design and hosting a real estate and home design show called 'Family Flip'. West Virginia last placed in 2016 and has never won the crown. Their best placement was 1st runner up in 1984 so can Haley do it?
She has aspiration to be a sports reporter but I don't foresee a placement this year. Wisconsin has never won but they did place in the top 10 in 2014.
Placements for Wyoming are extremely rare as they have only placed twice (1986 and 2010). This year's delegate is a recent high school graduate studying Marketing at the University of Wyoming so she may not be accomplished enough for this era of pageantry and is not expected to place.
Again, the preliminaries are on the evening of Monday, April 29 webcasted on www.missuniverse.com/missusa via a YouTube stream. I will post my final predictions for Miss USA 2019 on May 1 and then May 2 is the night of the finals airing on FOX at 8 p.m. Eastern Standard Time so we shall see who will be queen for 2019!
Who will succeed Miss USA 2018, Sarah Rose Summers of Nebraska and be crowned Miss USA 2019??
And Gomorrah! Here we go again, folks! We are headed back to the state of Nevada, but this time we’re going to Reno Tahoe which has stepped up to host the Miss USA and Miss Teen USA pageants being held concurrently for the second year in a row and I’m also very happy to see that we will welcome back last year’s hosts, Vanessa Lachey (Miss Teen USA 1998) and her husband Nick Lachey of the boy-band 98 Degrees. Several of the Miss Universe family of pageants have been held in the city of Las Vegas which is also in Nevada but now Reno Tahoe gets to show the world what it has to offer by welcoming the most beautiful and accomplished ladies in the United States. This will put much pressure on the hometown girl, Nevada’s own Tianna Jacqlyn Nomura McMoore Timu Tuamoheloa who is one of very few delegates of Samoan descent to compete at Miss USA. Tianna is very much a fitness buff who works for Top Rank Boxing and ESPN as a boxing ring girl. Tianna also previously held the 2014 Miss Nevada Collegiate America title. Much of one of my favorite movies “Sister Act” (starring Whoopi Goldberg, Kathy Najimy and Maggie Smith) was set in Reno where Goldberg’s character Deloris Van Cartier/Sister Mary Clarence performed in a lounge act in Reno (the Biggest Little City in the World) but had to hide out disguised as a nun in a convent after witnessing a murder. Deloris would end up becoming a much-loved choir director for the nuns in the convent who end up being nuns on the run that come to her rescue after Deloris is kidnapped by the murderer’s cronies when they find her and take her back to Reno. But will the sisters save Deloris in time for their choir to perform for the Pope?? So, back to Miss USA, planning for Reno to host all came together at the last minute with the Grand Sierra Hotel and Casino being confirmed as the venue after city council approved funding for the pageant on March 28 giving everyone less than a month to plan before the delegates arrive. The date for the pageant was announced on March 18. The rumor of the pageant being held in Reno was circulating for a while leading up to the official announcement but the date of May 2 was somewhat unexpected as May 2 is a Thursday. FOX might have allotted the Thursday time slot in an attempt to boost ratings as they have been dwindling over the years with last year seeing the second lowest ratings in the pageant’s history with 2.35 million viewers but it had some heavy competition on that Monday night (May 21, 2018) from other networks so I’m curious to see how the ratings will change this year and what competition on other networks that Miss USA is up against. Last year was also the first time that Miss USA was not held on a Sunday since 2008 which was held on a Friday. 2005 was also held on a Monday but the last time Miss USA was held on a Thursday was 20 years ago, back in 1999. The lowest rated Miss USA pageant was the chaotic 2015 Miss USA pageant which almost got derailed when a certain former co-owner of the pageants who would later become President said some stuff resulting in NBC abruptly dropping the pageant to be picked up by a smaller network, Reelz resulting in 925,000 viewers. The highest rated Miss USA pageant was the 1979 pageant which pulled in 38.1 million viewers but 1979 was a very different time compared to today so with a combination of other factors like social media and other competitive factors, those numbers will never be reached again for any special event.
This year’s Miss USA pageant in Reno promises to be a Sistah Act of epic proportions as there are some fine sistahs competing this year. West Virginia’s Haley Holloway is one delegate that I have been anticipating for quite a while as she was my prediction to win Miss Teen USA 2013 but Haley would have to settle for a 2nd runner up position so obviously, Haley is one of my favorites. Will Haley emerge triumphant this time around and be crowned Miss USA 2019? Another woman that I predicted to win Miss Teen USA was Alyssa Campanella who finished as 1st runner up at Miss Teen USA 2007 representing New Jersey but, of course, Alyssa would go on to win Miss USA 2011 representing California and Alyssa also would become the first woman to top my prediction lists at Miss Teen USA and Miss USA so will Haley Holloway be the next woman to top my prediction lists for both Miss Teen USA and Miss USA?? Haley does have a great personality with popstar great looks. During Miss Teen USA, she said some have confused her for Rihanna but I thought she looked more like Azealia Banks with a better attitude though. Haley has also graduated from the prestigious New York Film Academy and is presently attending Lindenwood University while running a consulting business and hosts a real estate and home design show called "Family Flip." West Virginia has never captured the Miss USA crown but did place as 1st runner up in 1984. New Hampshire’s Alexis Chinn is a standout with her big diva hairstyle but her looks are quite malleable so I’m interested to see how she styles her hair during the pageant. Alexis currently studies Chemistry at Southern New Hampshire University and volunteers to combat domestic violence. New Hampshire has also never won the Miss USA crown but did place as 1st runner up in the year 2000. Oklahoma’s Triana Browne also competed at Miss America 2018 representing Oklahoma but went unplaced surprisingly so is back with a vengeance trying for the Miss USA crown this time around. I think Triana is quite accomplished as she is a graduate of Oklahoma State University where she earned a degree in Human Development and Family Sciences with a focus in Psychology and a minor in Sociology. She is a passionate about sports and ran track competitively and also partnered with Nike N7 and The Chickasaw Nation allowing Triana to work to generate proceeds for struggling Native American communities aiming to spread unity through the power of sports. Her multiracial background also makes her a standout as she is the child of a light-skinned, Native-American father and a dark-skinned, multi-racial mother who is a doctor. Oklahoma won its only Miss USA crown just a few years ago in 2015 thanks to Olivia Jordan so could Triana do it again four years later like North Carolina did?
Kryst Be With You
The power of Kryst compels you to keep an eye on Cheslie Kryst of North Carolina! (It’s not pronounced Christ actually, it’s pronounced krist with a short “i”) Of course, you know I love that naturally big diva curly hair that she is sporting and I hope she does compete with this hairstyle as she does change it up from time to time. Apart from this fabulous distinctive look, Cheslie also fits the accomplished category that IMG is seeking in their titleholders. Cheslie works full-time as an attorney and is licensed to practice law in two states. She earned both her law degree and MBA from Wake Forest University and graduated cum laude with a Bachelor's degree from the Honors College at the University of South Carolina. In her spare time, she also runs a fashion blog called “White Collar Glam” highlighting professional attire for women and even hopes to start her own line of clothing focusing on workwear fashion. She volunteers for "Dress For Success" which is an organization that empowers women to escape volatile situations and achieve economic independence by providing the support and tools needed for women to prosper. Cheslie is extremely accomplished and is poised to bring a possible third Miss USA crown to the Tar Heel state. North Carolina has captured the Miss USA crowns in 2005 and 2009 thanks to Chelsea Cooley and Kristen Dalton respectively and North Carolina also placed as 1st runner up last year and that runner-up, Caelynn Miller-Keyes wasn’t able to crown Cheslie as her successor because Caelynn became a contestant on the recently concluded season of ‘The Bachelor’ finishing in 4th place. The Bachelor (Colton Underwood) selected Cassie Randolph. Caelynn competed along with another of last year’s Miss USA contestants, Alabama’s Hannah Brown who went unplaced last year at Miss USA 2018 but finished 7th on this same season of ‘The Bachelor’ but Hannah would go on to be selected to become ‘The Bachelorette’ so Hannah begins her quest for love when her season begins on May 13. Since Caelynn wasn't able to crown her successor, Cheslie was actually crowned by last year’s Miss North Carolina Teen USA, Kaaviya Sambasivam, who was my prediction to win Miss Teen USA last year but finished as 4th runner up.
A Barbie Girl In A Barbie World
Imagination. Life is your creation. Will she or won’t she? The most publicized delegate this year is the Georgious peach, Katerina Rozmajzl who many have deemed a real-life Barbie. Born in Prague, Czech Republic where there certainly are a lot of beautiful people, Katerina has five younger sisters and beauty definitely runs in this family as you can see. Even Katerina’s boyfriend, Czarek Czworkowski, could pass for a Ken doll so we’re talking some seriously extreme beauty all around here. Katerina’s look is polarizing though as some say she might look somewhat artificial or almost too good to be true and this look probably would also appeal more to a male panel of judges but the judges will likely be all female as they have been in recent years. However, don’t be so quick to judge based on her appearance alone because Katerina does actually possess a lot of significant achievements relevant to the modern era of pageantry. Katerina is studying Accounting at Kennesaw State University, where she is an honors student in the Coles College of Business and she plans to obtain her Master’s Degree in Accountancy and pursue her CPA licence. She is also an entrepreneur who started her own business called Katerina Cosmetics, Inc., at the age of 18 and she uses this entrepreneurial knowledge serving as an ambassador for Kiva which is an organization that helps to crowdfund loans for underprivileged international communities to start their own businesses. Katerina is passionate about helping women and children escape from human trafficking, domestic abuse, and homelessness. Like North Carolina’s Cheslie Kryst, Katerina also volunteers for and donates to "Dress For Success" which is an Atlanta-based organization that empowers women to escape volatile situations and achieve economic independence by providing the support and tools needed for women to prosper. Katerina does motivational speaking and has a large social media following and she is an influencer for various brands like Sherri Hill (who is also returning as a gown sponsor this year) and Forever 21. Here is a video of Katerina modelling various Sherri Hill gowns:
Katerina also had a cameo in the pageant-themed movie “Dumplin” which also stars Kathy Najimy and Jennifer Aniston with music from Dolly Parton. I think Miss USA would benefit from selecting Katerina to wear the crown and it would be good for the brand as she would likely garner an even larger fan following for the pageant as she does have a showstopping presence and can back it up with her achievements and social media following so she is (as Miss Universe 2015, Pia Wurtzbach would say) timely and relevant. Girl’s Instagram game be on fleek! Katerina would be a very in-demand titleholder as Miss USA and would be invited to make lots of special appearances. All eyes will be on her during the competition and this is the kind of delegate who will either go far in the competition or not place at all but she is too much of a standout so at the moment, she is my winner but will that change after preliminaries? We shall see what happens! The exposure she will get during the Miss USA pageant could propel her to superstardom regardless of what happens as Miss USA does have a large international following. Also, it should be noted that Georgia has never won the Miss USA crown although they have placed as a runner-up numerous times with the highest ranking Georgian being Erin Nance who was 1st runner up to Miss USA 1993, Michigan’s Kenya Moore who interestingly enough ended up starring on a Georgia-based show, The Real Housewives of Atlanta. Will Katerina Rosmajzl be the sweetest peach of all and give Georgia that long awaited, highly anticipated Miss USA win?
Game of Pageant Thrones
Miss USA 1984 (New Mexico's Mai Shanley) sits in her throne shortly after host Bob Barker announces her win.
Rather than Winter is coming, let’s say a winner is coming! The art of the statehop is nothing new to pageantry and there have been several examples over the years of delegates that competed in one state and experienced losses only to hop to another state and claim that state title so it has become its own little Game of Pageant Thrones or a Clash of Queens, if you will. This also reminds me that the winner of the Miss Universe family of pageants hasn’t sat in a throne after doing her victory walk since 1997! New Mexico’s Alejandra Gonzalez previously competed at Miss Texas USA several times from 2012 to 2018 with her best result there being named 1st runner up to Miss Texas USA 2015, Ylianna Guerra who was also 1st runner up to Miss USA 2015, Oklahoma’s Olivia Jordan who also was previously 1st runner up at Miss California USA 2013! You get it. The chain is endless! However, Alejandra is considered a strong contender as she is very striking and many people love her sweet personality. Alejandra holds a Master’s degree in Accounting and is passionate about teaching young people about financial literacy and also participates in various animal causes due to her love of animals. New Mexico has won the Miss USA crown once back in 1984 thanks to Mai Shanley so is it time again for the land of enchantment? Of course, we would have to mention the actual representative of Texas here and that would be Alayah Benavidez. Alayah was once diagnosed with dyslexia but it made her more determined and she is currently studying at the University of San Antonio and is financing her education as a model and an orthodontic assistant. Alayah is a literacy advocate who started a campaign called “Read The Way”, which gives her the opportunity to encourage school children across the nation in reading, writing, and goal setting. Alayah also previously held the title of Miss United States 2016. Texas is the most successful state at Miss USA boasting 9 wins, 5 of which were consecutive crowns from 1985 to 1989 but the lonestar state hasn’t captured the crown since 2008 when Crystle Stewart reigned triumphant and Texas has only placed in two of the last five years so can we get a good read on how Alayah will do? Another example of the successful statehop would be Pennsylvania’s Kailyn Perez who competed at Miss Florida USA 2014 to 2018, excluding 2016, with her best result there being named 1st runner up to Miss Florida USA 2015, Ashleigh Lollie. Kailyn is quite tall and accomplished having obtained a Juris Doctor degree from Stetson University College of Law in 2018. Kailyn also studied ballet and dance and would dance professionally with the Orlando Ballet Company but had to stop due to an injury but that injury caused to shift her focus on other items of interest like her admiration of the U.S. political system, public speaking and she also volunteers for organizations like Best Buddies and Running Start and she even hopes to start her own talk show one day. We know how gracefully dancers move on stage and her story is interesting so Kailyn is one to watch. Pennsylvania has only captured the Miss USA crown once back in 1971 thanks to Michele McDonald so could be it time again for the Keystone state? Kailyn statehopped from Florida which is being represented by Nicolette Jennings who actually also previously competed at Miss Maryland Teen USA and then several times at Miss Florida USA before finally clenching the Florida crown. Nicolette describes herself as a tomboy and we know how much they love the whole tomboy angle in pageantry and breaking glass ceilings by working in a field that is predominantly male as she worked as a sports reporter working with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and is currently earning a Master's Degree in Sports Management. Florida has never won the Miss USA crown so could Nicolette finally get it for the Sunshine state?
Achievements Are Sexy
The top 3 of Miss USA 1996 - Ali Landry of Louisiana, Becca Lee of Tennessee and Danielle Boatwright of Kansas
The final question for the 1996 Miss USA pageant was “How would the world be different if women were judged solely on their achievements rather than on their looks?” The stellar top 3 that year (consisting of Louisiana’s Ali Landry, Kansas’ Danielle Boatwright, and Tennessee’s Becca Lee) all pretty much concluded that this was already the case, phrased differently by each contestant, but it was Ali Landry who would emerge triumphant that night 23 years ago.
Today, the IMG era of pageantry seems to have borrowed from the example of that final question and has emphasized its focus on achievements and accomplishments, where forward-thinking individuals would strive to achieve rather than focus solely on external appearance and they would have us believe that accomplishments and achievements are sexy. Massachusetts is being represented by Kelly O’Grady who is quite the achiever. Kelly is a graduate of the prestigious Harvard University who not only graduated with honors after double majoring in Social Studies and East Asian Studies but Kelly would go on to obtain an MBA from Harvard Business School. On top of that, Kelly works as a management consultant travelling the world advising CEOs and managers of ways to improve their businesses and has a women’s advocacy program called Here to Slay focused on empowering women. She also worked in Corporate Strategy at The Walt Disney Company and was even a competitive figure skater for over 15 years and we know how gracefully figure skaters move on stage so Kelly is absolutely one to watch. Will all these achievements cause Kelly to be recognized in a big way on May 2nd and could she get a third Miss USA crown for Massachusetts succeeding those obtained by Shawnae Jebbia in 1998 and Susie Castillo in 2003?
Another overachiever competing for the 2019 Miss USA crown would be Kansas’ Alyssa Klinzing, who was also Miss Kansas Teen USA 2013 and placed among the semifinalists at Miss Teen USA that year wearing that memorable flower gown. Alyssa also placed as 3rd runner up at Miss California USA 2018 and held a part-time position working in Sleeping Beauty’s castle in Disneyland. She is obtaining a degree in Political Science and aims for a political career as a White House press secretary which should be aided by the skills attained from being a lifetime member of the Girl Scouts and obtaining the highest honor in that program being named Scout of the Year 2016. She has survived domestic abuse and her passion for politics drives Alyssa to educate the nation’s citizens about the political process and stresses the importance of female representation in politics with a goal of seeing record-breaking participation in the next presidential election in 2020. Kansas has won the Miss USA crown once thanks to Kelli McCarty in 1991 and the reigning Miss Teen USA is from Kansas and the last time a state won Miss USA immediately after winning Miss Teen USA was in 2013 when Connecticut’s Erin Brady won the Miss USA crown right after Connecticut’s Logan West won Miss Teen USA 2012. Can Alyssa do it again this time for the state where the folks still believe there’s no place like home?
Life is Peaceful There
This is our destiny. California currently holds the longest streak in the semifinals at Miss USA placing three years in a row from 2016 to 2018 and this year’s California Girl, Erica Dann hopes to make it a fourth and possibly even make it a win! California is the second most successful state at Miss USA (after Texas) boasting 6 Miss USA crowns. Erica has significant educational achievements as she possesses a Master’s degree in International Business and a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from the University of Florida but Erica would go west obtaining a great job working for Google as a People Operations Business Partner and working for Google has many perks including free food but she shall not be led into temptation for she does have to maintain that pageant figure but then there’s always the body positivity route, right? Erica also volunteers to combat homelessness throughout the United States which is a cause she is passionate about and she also loves to travel. California has almost won one Miss USA crown in every decade except in the 2000s when they came close by obtaining three 1st runner up placements (2005, 2006 and 2009). The six years that California did win the Miss USA crown were 1959, 1966, 1975, 1983, 1992 and 2011. This is California’s last chance to get a second Miss USA crown in the 2010s to make up for the one lost in the 2000s so can Erica do it??
Manya Feel Like A Woman
Let’s go, girls. Manya Saaraswat of New Jersey is definitely one to watch this year. She is the third woman of Indian descent to represent New Jersey at Miss USA following Emily Shah in 2014 who was among the top 20 that year and Chhavi Verg in 2017 who finished as 1st runner up matching New Jersey’s highest placement which was also obtained by Charlotte Ray in 1991. Now, here we have Manya who has a chance to get that first elusive Miss USA crown for the Garden state and she could very well do it as her accomplishments are right in step with the IMG era of pageantry. For you see, Manya is a graduate of Bucknell University holding a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology and her findings have been published in medical journals. Manya held a stem cell research internship at Harvard University and she aims to become a pediatric surgeon. Combine these accomplishments with Manya’s strong stage presence and her unique, exotic look and we have us a contender.
(Blame It On The Reign)
Whatever you do, don’t put the blame on you… So, I decided to include a little segment (using a headline semi-inspired by the 1990 Miss USA swimsuit song, Milli Vanilli’s ‘Blame it on the Rain’) on some relationships that have been happening in the pageant world that have a connection to one very important pageant titleholder, Olivia Culpo who won Miss USA 2012 and would go on to win Miss Universe 2012. Olivia has her own clothing line collaborating with Express and she is currently in an on-and-off relationship with football wide receiver, Danny Amendola but two of Olivia’s exes clearly have a penchant for pageant girls.
Nick Jonas has made several appearances in the Miss Universe family of pageants including performing with the Jonas Brothers during the 2007 Miss Teen USA evening gown competition and he also co-hosted Miss USA 2013 alongside Giuliana Rancic. Nick also famously featured Olivia Culpo in the music video for his song “Jealous” which was released in 2014 and was even performed by Nick during the evening gown competition of the 2014 Miss Universe pageant won by Colombia’s Paulina Vega and there was a moment during this performance that Nick Jonas who was then dating Olivia Culpo got down on his knees in front of her in the audience sparking rumors that a marriage proposal was in the works. After Olivia and Nick broke up, Nick would start dating another very notable and successful international pageant queen, Miss World 2000, India’s Priyanka Chopra and the two would have a highly publicized marriage on December 1, 2018. It’s also interesting to note that Priyanka (born in 1982) is 10 years older than Nick (born in 1992) and like many other famous couples, Priyanka jokingly named the couple Prick (combining Priyanka and Nick)! There were some elaborate ceremonies performed in India following both Christian and Hindu traditions. After breaking up with Nick Jonas, Olivia Culpo was rumored to have a short relationship with football quarterback, Tim Tebow, but it supposedly never went anywhere largely due to Tebow’s virginity vow (similarly to the Bachelor, Colton Underwood mentioned earlier) and he wants to remain chaste before marriage. Tim Tebow, was born in the pageant loving nation of the Philippines when his parents were working as Christian Baptist missionaries there so this might explain his pursuit of a pageant queen, and instead of pursuing a relationship with Miss Universe 2012, Olivia Culpo, he would date and later end up proposing to Miss Universe 2017, Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters of South Africa. Tim had a special date planned at Walt Disney World in Florida and coordinated for Demi-Leigh’s family to make a surprise appearance and Demi accepted his proposal at his family’s farm outside of Jacksonville, Florida on January 9, 2019 and a wedding is currently being planned for Tim and Demi-Leigh. Tim even got her an internally flawless diamond 7.25 carat solitaire engagement ring saying that the ring was internally flawless, just like Demi-Leigh. Awww... Love is in the air in the pageant world and is 2012’s Miss Universe and Miss USA, Olivia culpable for this? Olivia’s time will come but for now, she is enjoying her successes and we shall see what the future holds for her and these significant couples connected to her and to pageantry. Blame it on the reign, yeah-ee-yeah!
On April 23, I will post a second round of prethoughts with comments on each of the 51 delegates competing for Miss USA 2019 and then after observing the preliminaries (being shown on missusa.com or their social media channels on April 29), I will post my final predictions for Miss USA on May 1 and then the big night is May 2 when the new Miss USA is selected. Who will be the chosen one?
Watch Miss USA 2019 on Thursday, May 2 on FOX!
District of Columbia
FIRST ROUND PRETHOUGHTS (April 15, 2019)
Some photos courtesy Miss Universe L.P., LLLP