THE RESULTS (September 30, 2023)

Utah's Noelia Voigt is Miss USA 2023

It's a second win for Utah but the third Miss USA crown for the beehive state! How so? Well, Utah inherited the crown in 1957 when Maryland's Leona Gage was dethroned as Miss USA 1957 when it was discovered that she was a married mother of two who lied about her age but those rules changed this year and married women with children can compete as of 2023 and as of 2024, any adult woman aged 18 and over who wins her state title can compete for Miss USA or her national title and after winning that, compete for Miss Universe! Leona's crown then went to her 1st runner-up, Utah's Charlotte Sheffield. Utah would then win Miss USA in 1960 with Linda Bement who went on to win Miss Universe 1960 as well. Now, a whopping 63 years later, Utah has claimed the Miss USA crown again thanks to Noelia Voigt who statehopped after placing as 1st runner up at Miss Alabama USA 2023 won by Sophie Burzynski who also placed among the top 20 for Miss USA 2023 but Noelia would rise above her by hopping to Utah, winning Miss Utah USA 2023 and now Miss USA 2023! Of Venezuelan descent on her mother's side, Noelia displayed a powerful performance (as Venezuelans are known for in pageantry) and with her strong speaking skills, she had conducted interviews with the locals in Reno as she seemed to really want the job by showing she is ready for it and the judges have now awarded her that prestigious job! Now, Noelia is on her way to Miss Universe 2023 in El Salvador with the pressure of representing the country of the reigning Miss Universe and only Venezuela has won successive Miss Universe crowns (2008 and 2009) so can Noelia pull it off??

In terms of my predictions, I was quite delighted to see that I picked 14 of the actual top 20 plus 2 alternates (Wisconsin and Washington), Maryland was in my next tier but the 3 I missed entirely were: Alabama, Arkansas and the winner of the online vote: New Mexico. The 6 ladies in my list that missed the cut were: New York, Kansas, North Dakota, Kentucky, Nebraska and Louisiana.



Winner=Utah-Noelia Voigt

Winner=Pennsylvania-Jasmine Daniels*

1st Runner Up=Hawaii-Savannah Gankiewicz

1st Runner Up=New York-Rachelle Di Stasio

2nd Runner Up=Wisconsin-Alexis Loomans

2nd Runner Up=Illinois-Samantha Elliott*

3rd Runner Up=Pennsylvania-Jasmine Daniels

3rd Runner Up=Kansas-Haley Berger

4th Runner Up=Texas-Lluvia Alzate

4th Runner Up=North Dakota-Monni Nyaribo

FINALISTS (alpha'l):


Alabama-Sophie Burzynski

Nevada-Josie Stephens*

Arkansas-Mackenzie Hinderberger

North Carolina-Jordyn McKey*

California-Tianna Clark

California-Tianna Clark*

Connecticut-Karla Aponte Roque

Florida-Caroline Dixon*

District of Columbia-Cassie Baloue

Texas-Lluvia Alzate*

Florida-Caroline Dixon

Utah-Noelia Voigt*

Illinois-Samantha Elliott

South Carolina-Kirby Self*

Maryland-Savena Mushinge

Virginia-Ashley Williams*

Nevada-Josie Stephens

New Jersey-Derby Chukwudi*

New Jersey-Derby Chukwudi

Kentucky-Madalyne Kinnett

New Mexico-Bianca Wright §

Nebraska-Mimi Wood

North Carolina-Jordyn McKey

Connecticut-Karla Aponte Roque*

South Carolina-Kirby Self

Hawaii-Savannah Gankiewicz*

Virginia-Ashley Williams

Louisiana-Sylvia Masters

Washington-Samantha Gallia

District of Columbia-Cassie Baloue*


ALTERNATES: Rhode Island, Wisconsin*, Missouri, Ohio, Washington*


HONORABLE MENTIONS: Georgia, Oklahoma, Idaho, Tennessee, Indiana

§ = won online vote

* = made actual top 20

I will post my full commentary on Miss USA 2023 on October 9.


THE PREDICTIONS (September 29, 2023)

The big night is September 29 on the CW!

Before we get into the predictions, congratulations are in order for the winner of the state costume competition, Hawaii! And now, here come the predictions for Miss USA 2023! This year, they are narrowing it down to a top 20 with the ladies competing both in swimsuit and gown then a cut to top 5! Well, at least we get to see more gowns this way! This was a very tight week with everything happening in just a few days so the preliminary performances lacked some energy but
After reviewing preliminaries, bios, videos and pictures, I have now come up with my final predictions for Miss USA 2023 and they are as follows!


Winner=Pennsylvania-Jasmine Daniels

Jasmine has never left my list but after preliminaries, her gown performance was the highlight of the whole competition. She started off with the train over her head like a hood and then it fell back and with her superior walk and runway moves and when she turned around and flashed that long train at the audience, it was sheer magic. Bringing the drama! Apart from that stunning body, dimpled smile and the unique bob hairstyle, Jasmine totally stole and show and I was debating for a LONG time about which direction this pageant would go and who I would settle on as a winner given who the judges are and preliminaries sealed the deal! Simple as that! Pennsylvania won the crown in 1971 thanks to Michele McDonald who passed away in 2020 after receiving a double-lung transplant so will Jasmine be the flower that blooms as the new Miss USA??

1st Runner Up=New York-Rachelle Di Stasio

I was debating for sometime whether or not to give Rachelle my win as I have seen her topping other lists and she certainly has the smoldering look and the body being a former ballerina and she does have supreme confidence but I think Miss USA needs to project a little more warmth which I'm not quite getting from her which hinders me from giving her the win but she could very well take it all so we'll see what happens.

2nd Runner Up=Illinois-Samantha Elliott

Samantha is another one with a superior overall look and an interesting story living on a farm. I was very pleased with her performance in preliminaries as she certainly has an amazing body and she can work it and the face and hair are exceptional and I love this cuff-neck gown as well so she ticks all my boxes but I'm hesitant to give her the win due to the anti-blonde sentiment that seems to be plaguing pageants lately but Samantha could very well get another win for Illinois. They have won four times but not since 1974!

3rd Runner Up=Kansas-Haley Berger

Haley is the daughter of Prathumrat Woramali Berger, Miss Thailand World 1989 who placed in the top 10 of Miss World 1989 and Haley certainly got her mom's great genes as I feel like New York, Illinois and Kansas have the bodies of this pageant which is why I put them in my top 5 and Haley is interested in things like Formula One racing and judges like the whole tomboy turned pageant queen story so I think she will do well in this competition and her gown is divine too.

4th Runner Up=North Dakota-Monni Nyaribo

Monni is the first African-American Miss North Dakota USA being of Kenyan descent and she is garnering a lot of attention with her natural afro hairstyle and she just beams and has a delightful smile and a great fit body and her attitude and spunk have captured the hearts of many including myself so I hope they bring that fabulous 'fro all the way to the end and maybe they will have that crown on it! Let them think about it! Also, I should point out that North Dakota has never won the crown but of the five times they placed, they always placed in the top 6 so when North Dakota places, they place BIG!


Nevada-Josie Stephens

This was a painful drop for me to do as Josie was my winner for a long time but I thought about the anti-blonde sentiment that has been plaguing pageants recently and as beautiful as Josie is and as accomplished as she has a Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette so she is smart too but when I looked at her performance, I sort of got the impression that she didn't want to be there. The smiles seem forced and I think maybe she doesn't really want this? She competed at Miss Louisiana USA placing as 1st runner up three times before hopping to Nevada and winning on what would have been her last year of eligibility until they announced that they were doing away with the age limit next year. I would love to see Josie win and if it happens, I would be thrilled but for some reason, I'm just not feeling it. The host delegate hasn't won since 1995 and Nevada last won the crown in 2014 so can Josie do it?

North Carolina-Jordyn McKey

Just by default, since I'm dropping Nevada a few notches on my list, I also have to do the same for Jordyn as she was also a runner-up in Louisiana before the hop to North Carolina but she actually smiled during preliminaries. I guess someone told her to do the Shandi Finnessey laugh but Shandi sold it like no one else could. Jordyn's a formidable candidate and accomplished working in the medical field and she has a story about her boyfriend having a baseball-sized brain tumor encouraging her to compete in Miss North Carolina USA and she won so this probably came up in the interviews and I can see her going far in the competition especially since North Carolina has done extremely well in recent years so we'll see how Jordyn does.

California-Tianna Clark

Tianna has a story of being an army sergeant which makes me immediately think of Deshauna Barber-Miss USA 2016 from whom Tianna says she draws inspiration so having won a competitive state pageant just makes Tianna an automatic contender as she speaks well and she seems exceptionally poised so I think the judges will like her.

Florida-Caroline Dixon

Sweet Caroline has consistently been a favorite and she speaks well and is accomplished as she has a Juris Master degree from Florida State University and works as a senior legislative aide so I think all the elements are there and it helps that she won a competitive state also so I'm looking for sweet Caroline to make sure good times never seemed so good!

Texas-Lluvia Alzate

Lluvia represents the most successful state in Miss USA history claiming 10 crowns with 2 of those winners going on to win Miss Universe and she is of Colombian descent and you could see her paying homage to her Colombian roots with the emeralds on this gown. Lluvia has a heartbreaking story about losing her mother to ALS/Lou Gehrig's disease so this is sure to pull some heartstrings so she is among my top 10 currently. Texas, the most successful state at Miss USA, has won the crown 10 times including last year and Texas has a five-year streak winning from 1985 to 1989 so could Lluvia start yet another streak of wins for Texas??

Utah-Noelia Voigt

Noelia's of Venezuelan descent so naturally pageantry is in her blood and she hopped after being a runner-up in Alabama to Utah to get her state title to compete on the Miss USA stage. She is more on the petite side but Noelia has powerful performance and she has conducted interviews with the locals in Reno as she seems to really want the job by showing she is ready for it so many people seem to agree that Noelia is one to watch.

South Carolina-Kirby Self

Kirby's accomplished as we know from her stint at Miss Teen USA 2018 where she finished as 1st runner up. In my first round prethoughts, I pointed out that half the Teen 1st runners-up made the top 3 at Miss USA and the other half didn't place at all so by pointing it out, I probably jinxed the pattern and therefore I will put Kirby somewhere in the middle of my semifinalists! Makes sense, no? I know she had a stumbly final answer when she won her state pageant but a lot of people seem to agree that she is one of the stronger contestants this year so I'm putting her here.

Virginia-Ashley Williams

Ashley's distinct look gives her that sparkle that makes her stand out in a good way. She's a cheerleader and many people seem to agree after preliminaries that she would make an impact and seems to have a certain spunk. She is also accomplished graduating from Florida International University with a degree in psychology so I'm giving her a spot.

New Jersey-Derby Chukwudi

Derby actually speaks incredibly well and I can see judge Vivica A. Fox liking Derby. She is of Nigerian descent although she was born in Dallas, Texas and raised in Nigeria and she attended college in Kentucky. My friend Jeff tells me Derby attended Berea College where his mom won a beauty title in 1953! Derby now lives in Hoboken where she is an Investment Strategist within the Global Investment Strategy Group at J.P. Morgan Private Bank. I feel like Derby has a smaller upper body but wider below but she carries herself with supreme confidence and I can see her being a surprise so I'm putting her in my list coming off a Miss Teen USA win for New Jersey just the day before!

Kentucky-Madalyne Kinnett

Madalyne has a unique look but I actually detect a sincere warmth from her and she does indeed have a great body, dimpled smile and this gown is refreshingly different but very nice and she does have a story about losing her mother (like Texas' delegate) to an overdose so this may pull on the heartstrings of the judges in interview so I'm putting her in! Kentucky just won the crown two years ago so is it time again??

Nebraska-Mimi Wood

Mimi is like a mini-Shandi Finnessey almost. So I know she is pretty with a great but petite body and a strong state pageant record but what on earth is this monstrosity of a gown?? I don't know if she was going for a garden of Eden theme or something but I was so disappointed when I saw this but this is a case where I'm hoping the judges will judge the girl and not the gown.

Connecticut-Karla Aponte Roque

There's not much talk about Karla but I think she could be a surprise. She is of Puerto Rican descent and she actually speaks very well and she has a pleasant look and holds multiple degrees. She graduated from Albertus Magnus College with a double Bachelor’s degree in Biology and Chemistry, and double minored in Psychology and Pre-Pharmacy in 2019. In 2022, she graduated from Fairfield University in their accelerated nursing program earning her, her third Bachelor’s degree in Nursing and she now works as a nurse.

Hawaii-Savannah Gankiewicz

Savannah is of Filipina, Polish and Vietnamese descent so that exotic blend makes her a standout and she also was affected by the wildfires in Maui recently so she certainly has a story to tell and she had a fine performance in the preliminaries and is a decent candidate overall.

Louisiana-Sylvia Masters

Sylvia works as a journalist so I know she's a talker and likely would have been engaging in interviews. She along with Nevada and North Carolina's reps placed in the top 5 of Miss Louisiana USA 2022 each having runner-up positions to KT Scannell who went unplaced at Miss USA 2022 but all three of these ladies made my list this year!

District of Columbia-Cassie Baloue

DC has been doing suspiciously well placing in 5 of the last 7 Miss USA pageants and even winning two of those crowns. Cassie has a strong resume as she is a digital press secretary in the United States House of Representatives working for Representative Eric Swalwell and actively advocates for cancer awareness. Others seem to feel strongly about her and she did fine in prelims so I'm giving her my last spot!


Rhode Island-Mary Malloy

Mary has been noticed for her short hair. She did appear somewhat on the thin side during preliminaries and I haven't been completely wowed by her interviews but she could do it. She has a few strikes against her though as she was Miss Rhode Island Teen USA 2015 but went unplaced at Miss Teen USA 2015 with very different hair. She would place as 1st runner up to Miss California USA 2021, Sabrina Lewis who went unplaced at Miss USA 2021 and then she competed at Miss California USA 2022 only placing as a semifinalist then hopped to Rhode Island in 2023. I wasn't completely convinced after preliminaries so I placed her as an alternate.

Wisconsin-Alexis Loomans

Alexis was Miss Wisconsin Teen USA 2018 going unplaced at Miss Teen USA 2018. She was noticed after preliminaries but somehow I feel like this judging panel may not warm up to her but we will see.

Missouri-Autumn Black

Autumn is certainly photogenic and she interviews well but there's something about her body like the belly looks like it protrudes a bit but I could see her up there.

Ohio-Mackenzie Schutt

This is a great candidate body-wise and her gown look was quite distinguished but again this delegate may be more about fitness and may not have as strong an interview as the others but we'll see.

Washington-Dr. Samantha Gallia

She earned her Doctor of Dental Surgery degree but something about insisting on putting 'Doctor' in front of your name almost gives off an I'm-better-than-you vibe and I don't think the judges will like that even if she is accomplished. Her performance in preliminaries was somewhat overbearing also but we'll see how she does.


Georgia-Rachel Russaw

She has a large online following and could get the online vote but she's a decent candidate, just somewhat petite but just doesn't seem to be among the favorites this year.

Oklahoma-Liv Walbeck

This is a more unconventional looking delegate from Oklahoma so she must have a strong interview. Will it be enough to make her a surprise??

Idaho-Hannah Menzner

She has a great look but I guess it's too much of a pageant-girl vibe I'm assuming that may be what keeps her off lists and she was a former Miss Idaho Teen USA going unplaced in 2014.

Tennessee-Regan Ringler

Tennessee normally sends strong delegates. This year's delegate isn't on most radars but she could be up there.

Indiana-Haley Jordan Begay

One of the judges, Vivica Fox is from Indiana and this delegate is a Cherokee Nation citizen so maybe she might get some diversity points so she also could be a surprise.


Minnesota (too young-only 20), Arizona (she's a cop!), Mississippi, Maryland, Delaware

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

Tell everyone to watch Miss USA 2023 on September 29 on the CW!



departure pics

Preliminaries are on September 28 at 4:30pm Pacific Standard Time when we will see all 51 contestants compete in swimsuit and gown and then the 2023 Miss USA pageant will air on the CW on September 29 live from the Grand Sierra Resort in Reno, Nevada at 5pm Pacific Standard Time. Spread the word and get people to watch Miss USA on the CW this year!
This year's hosts are: Keltie Knight and Adrienne Bailon-Houghton and radio personality Ellen K is to serve as the announcer. The judges are: fashion designer & businesswoman Nicole Miller; actress, director, producer & entrepreneur Vivica A. Fox; model, philanthropist, and entrepreneur Emina Cunmulaj Nazarian; and beauty entrepreneur and founder of One/Size Beauty, Patrick Starrr, with commentary from Jordan Kimball and the current Miss USA, Morgan Romano.

The ladies are arriving in Reno! To quote Kathy Najimy's character Sister Mary Patrick in the hit movie, 'Sister Act,' 'What a lovely name...Reno!' I'm going to assume like last year that there is a top 16 this year which includes the top 15 from the selection committee and a 16th spot for the winner of the Internet vote. I heard that interview is worth 50% of the preliminary score whereas swimsuit and gown are each 25% so we should look for strong interview skills and unique accomplishments first before body or beauty and a lot of delegates have a background story but like always, surprises are to be expected. As always, it's going to be difficult to predict who actually will make the final cut so let's see how I do this year.

I will be posting my final predictions for Miss USA 2023 on the morning of September 29 but in the meantime, I will be posting my present thoughts on each delegate.

Sophie Burzynski

Alabama made the top 5 in 2020 but hasn't placed since. Sophie has a wedding videography business and aims to be a pediatric dentist. I don't foresee a placement for this delegate. 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.

Jordan Naylor

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 was previously Miss Alaska's Outstanding Teen 2012 but is not among my picks.

Candace Kanavel

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. Candace is a cop so the judges might place her if they feel intimidated! She is currently not among my picks but more of a next tier delegate.

Mackenzie Hinderberger

Mackenzie was previously Miss Arkansas Teen USA 2018 going unplaced at Miss Teen USA. She is an elementary school teacher and while she does have a great look, I'm not sure that she will excel in interview so she is currently not among my picks. Arkansas has won the crown once in 1982 thanks to Terri Utley and they last placed in 2019 among the top 5 that year.

Tianna Clark

Tianna is quite poised and she has a story of being a sergeant in the Army National Guard which immediately makes me recall Miss USA 2016-Deshauna Barber who also served in the military and Tianna draws inspiration from Deshauna. Tianna is a graduate of California State University, San Bernardino obtaining a bachelor’s degree in sociology with a minor in psychology in 2018. She also aims to get her master’s degree with the ambition to become a youth psychologist. This delegate appears well-spoken and so I have her among my top 10 currently. California placed among the top 16 in 2022 and they have won the Miss USA crown 6 times (1959, 1966, 1975, 1983, 1992 and 2011) once in each decade excluding the 2000s when they earned 3 1st runner-up placements.

Arianna Lemus

This delegate is currently not among my picks. Colorado last placed in 2012 but they have never won the crown.

Karla Aponte Roque

Karla was born in Puerto Rico and she is achieved as she holds three Bachelor’s degrees (Biology, Chemistry and Nursing) and is pursuing her MBA focusing on Healthcare Management. I think she interviews well so for that reason, I have her among my top 16 currently. Connecticut won their only Miss USA crown in 2013 and last placed in 2022.

Noa Mills

Delaware placed for the first time ever in 2015 thanks to Renee Bull who made the top 10 but they haven't placed since. Noa could be a surprise as she does appear to be accomplished being a two-time published author but I have her as a next tier delegate presently.

District of Columbia
Cassie Baloue

DC has been doing suspiciously well placing in 5 of the last 7 Miss USA pageants and even winning two of those crowns. Cassie has a strong resume as she is a digital press secretary in the United States House of Representatives working for Representative Eric Swalwell and actively advocates for cancer awareness so I have her as an honorable mention 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.

Caroline Dixon

Sweet Caroline has a Juris Master degree from Florida State University and recently moved to Palm Harbor where she works as a senior legislative aide. She appears to be a strong overall candidate and so she is among my top 10 currently. Florida placed as 2nd runner up in 2021 thanks to Ashley Carino who went on to win Miss Puerto Rico and placed top 5 at Miss Universe 2022. 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 from California did not accept the title.

Rachel Russaw

Rachel has a large online following as she is a content creator, strategist and influencer so she could get the online vote. I have her as an honorable mention currently. Georgia has never won the crown even though they have several runners-up and they last placed in 2020.

Savannah Gankiewicz

Savannah is an interesting blend of Polish-Vietnamese on her father's side and Filipina on her mother's side. She has also been seen interviewing about Hurricane Dora's affects on her native Maui but I have her as a next tier delegate currently. Hawaii last placed in 2020 and they have won the Miss USA crown 4 times with their most recent winner also winning Miss Universe in 1997.

Hannah Menzner

Hannah was previously Miss Idaho Teen USA 2014 going unplaced at Miss Teen USA 2014. She is also an author pursuing her MBA and she looks quite good overall but I have her as an honorable mention currently. Idaho inherited its Miss USA crown in 1997 when Brandi Sherwood inherited it after Brook Lee won Miss Universe 1997 and they had another 1st runner up placement in 2020 which was their most recent placement.

Samantha Elliott

I think Samantha is a very worthy candidate overall and I have her in my top 5 currently. She has an interesting story in growing up as a farm girl and is pursuing a master's in accounting. Illinois currently has a 3 year streak in the semifinals with their last two placements being in the top 5 and they have captured the crown 4 times thanks to Myrna Hansen (1953), Marite Ozers (1963), Amanda Jones (1973) and Karen Morrison (1974).

Haley Jordan Begay

Haley has experience as a former Miss Indiana for Miss America 2018 but going unplaced so I'm leaning towards next tier status for this delegate. Indiana made the top 5 in 2020 but they have never won the crown but they do have a 1st runner up with Holly Dennis in 1981.

Grace Lynn Keller

This delegate is also a Miss America crossover going unplaced for Miss America 2022. I don't foresee a placement for this year's rep. Iowa last placed in 2019 and Carol Morris in 1956 won Iowa's only Miss USA crown and later also won Miss Universe that year.

Haley Berger

Haley is half-Thai which may win the approval of the current Miss Universe organization owner, Khun Anne Jakrajutatip. Haley is the daughter of Prathumrat Woramali-Berger, Miss Thailand-World 1989 who made the top 10 at Miss World 1989. Haley is studying pharmacy at the University of Kansas and is interested in Formula One car racing. I have her in my top 16 currently. Kansas won the Miss USA crown once back in 1991 thanks to Kelli McCarty and they placed in 3 of the last 4 Miss USA pageants.

Madalyne Kinnett

Madalyne was a runner-up three times in the Miss Kentucky Teen USA pageants from 2018 to 2020 and she is a graduate of the University of Kentucky with dual degrees in merchandising, apparel and textiles and business marketing. I have her as an alternate currently. Kentucky won the crown twice in 2006 and in 2021 which is the last time they placed.

Sylvia Masters

Sylvia won a really competitive state pageant and two of her former co-competitors representing Nevada and North Carolina this year are all competing together again so this causes me to put her in my top 5 at the moment. Sylvia has journalism and hosting experience so this should benefit her in interviews. Louisiana has won the crown 3 times (1958, 1961, 1996) but their 3 year streak in the semifinals was broken last year so will Sylvia bring Louisiana back in a big way?

Juliana Morehouse Locklear

Maine has never won the crown but they did have a 3 year streak placing from 2010 to 2012 and they did place in 2018. As mentioned in my first round prethoughts, Juliana is only married delegate competing this year under the new rule for 2023 allowing women who are/were married and have children to compete. Juliana married her husband Taylor in April 2023 after winning her state title in November 2022. Also, Juliana is a legacy delegate being the daughter of North Carolina's Lynn Jenkins-Morehouse who was 2nd runner up at Miss USA 1994. Will Juliana be able to match or surpass her mother's achievement? I'm leaning towards her not placing but we'll see what happens.

Savena Mushinge

Savena represented Zambia at Miss Supranational 2022 going unplaced. Right now, I have her as an honorable mention. 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. Maryland last placed in 2021.

Annika Sharma

Annika was previously Miss Massachusetts Teen USA 2020 going unplaced there and she is the first woman of Indian descent to hold both titles for Massachusetts. She works as a wealth management analyst after obtaining her bachelor's degree in finance, marketing and philosophy but this delegate is not among my picks. Massachusetts has won the crown twice in 1998 and 2003 and last placed in 2018.

Alexis Fagan-Williams

Michigan won the crown 3 times (1990, 1993 and 2010) and last placed in 2018. This year's delegate is not among my picks at the moment.

Sarah Anderson

Sarah is the youngest contestant this year competing at age 20 and having just competed in the Teen division for 2022. She has a good overall look but I feel like she might be outshined by the more mature delegates in interview so we'll see. I have her as an honorable mention currently. Minnesota won its only crown in 1976 and they last placed in 2022.

Sydney Russell

Sydney is a graduate student currently pursuing her Doctorate of Pharmacy so she has potential but I need to see more so I have her as a next tier delegate currently. Mississippi just won its first Miss USA crown with Asya Branch in 2020 and they last placed in 2021.

Autumn Black

She has a pleasant face but the body concerns me. She holds a Bachelor’s of Journalism degree in Convergence Journalism with a minor in Business Administration. Shortly after undergrad, she began her Master’s of Science in Business. I can see her placing but I have her as an honorable mention currently. Missouri won its only Miss USA crown in 2004 and they last placed in 2022.

Madyson Rigg

Madyson was previously Miss Montana Teen USA 2014 going unplaced at Miss Teen USA 2014 and this will likely happen again at Miss USA. Montana has not placed since way back in 1958.

Mimi Wood

Mimi is quite photogenic but her height concerns me so this is where I look at achievements. She attended the University of Nebraska and graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Education and Human Sciences and is a dancer. Dancers move well on stage so I'm thinking she will get the nod so I have her in my top 16. Nebraska won their first crown in 2018 thanks to Sarah Rose Summers and they placed as 2nd runner up last year so will Mimi keep the streak going for the Cornhusker state?

Josie Stephens

Still my winner currently, Josie has much experience having competed eight times in Louisiana, including three first runner-up placements only to be denied on what almost would have been her last year of eligibility before moving to Nevada and winning that state title just before the age limit was lifted for 2024 so Josie is a favorite amongst many pageant fans including myself. She has a Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. The host delegate hasn't won since Texas' Chelsi Smith won in 1995 in South Padre Island, Texas so will Josie win for the host state? Nevada won their only Miss USA crown in 2014 and last placed in 2020.

New Hampshire
Britney Lane

New Hampshire pulled off a top 12 placement last year and although they have never won the crown, they did pull off a 1st runner up placement in 2000. I don't foresee a placement for this delegate.

New Jersey
Derby Chukwudi

Derby was born in Dallas, Texas and raised in Nigeria, then she went to college in Kentucky and currently lives in Hoboken, New Jersey employed as an investment strategist. New Jersey has never won the crown and they last placed in the top 10 in 2020. I don't feel strongly enough about this delegate for some reason so she's not in my list but we'll see if prelims changes that.

New Mexico
Bianca Wright

The land of enchantment did pull off a win in 1984 and they did place as 1st runner up in 2019 and they had a top 12 placement last year as well. Bianca graduated from New Mexico State University with a Bachelor’s in Environmental Science and she did participate in the Miss Earth USA 2020 pageant which new Miss USA director, Laylah Rose was involved with prior to obtaining Miss USA so hmmm... but as of right now, this delegate is not among my picks.

New York
Rachelle Di Stasio

Originally from Nashville, Rachelle relocated to New York City to join the American Ballet Theatre. Dancers do move gracefully on stage and she is even signed to Wilhemina modelling agency and Rachelle comes across as very poised and confident and does speak well so I have her in my top 10 currently. New York has won 3 Miss USA crowns (1952, 1979, and 1999) and inherited one crown in 1995 and they last placed in 2020.

North Carolina
Jordyn McKey

Jordyn had also previously competed in Louisiana placing as a runner-up three times before moving to Charlotte, North Carolina for work. Jordyn almost didn't compete due to her boyfriend having to have a baseball-sized brain tumor removed but he encouraged her to compete and she won! Jordyn is in my top 5 currently. North Carolina has done very well in recent years even inheriting the crown last year in addition to winning three other Miss USA crowns in 2005, 2009 and 2019.

North Dakota
Monni Nyaribo

I thought about it and I still adore Monni and her fabulous 'fro. Monni is the first black Miss North Dakota USA and she says she will compete with this hairstyle and I hope it gets her noticed in a big way as she is among my top 5 currently. An interesting factoid about North Dakota is that each of the 5 times that they placed in Miss USA history, each of those ladies also made the top 6 in their respective years of 1966, 1983, 1996, 2014 and 2021 so when North Dakota places, they place BIG! Is Monni about to get North Dakota's first win? Let me think about it!

Mackenzie Schutt

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 2022. Last year's delegate finished as 3rd runner up and this year's delegate certainly has a great body and is very into fitness but I'm not so sure about interview so I have Mackenzie as an alternate for now.

Liv Walbeck

Oklahoma last placed in the top 3 for 2019 and 2020 and they won their first Miss USA crown in 2015 thanks to Olivia Jordan. This delegate can talk though as she aims to be an entertainment reporter so she could be a surprise but I have her as a next tier delegate.

Manju Bangalore

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 in 2018 and Manju is a physicist and is on her way to becoming an astronaut but I don't think the body is up to par so this delegate is not among my picks.

Jasmine Daniels

Jasmine also competed at Miss Teen USA 2015 placing among the semifinalists that year but she is sporting a unique bob hairstyle this time around and I like it and I find her charming so I have her in my top 16. Pennsylvania won the crown in 1971 and last placed in 2019.

Rhode Island
Mary Malloy

Mary did manage a 1st runner up placement at Miss California USA 2021 to Sabrina Lewis who went unplaced at Miss USA. Mary herself was also a Miss Teen USA 2015 participant representing Rhode Island and going unplaced so these factors lead me to believe that she may not place so I have her as an alternate at the moment. 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
Kirby Self

Kirby was 1st runner up at Miss Teen USA 2018 and in my first round prethoughts, I pointed out that for previous Teen 1st runner ups, it either meant another placement in the top 3 at Miss USA or a non-placement. Where will Kirby fall? Since I pointed this pattern out, therefore jinxing it, I currently have Kirby in my top 16 as she is quite accomplished and a lot of people favor her but her answer to the final question at Miss South Carolina USA was somewhat scattered so I'm very conflicted! I guess we'll see after prelims where I decide to put her in my final list. South Carolina last placed in 2021 when they made the top 8 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
Amber Hulse

South Dakota has pulled off rare placements recently making the top 5 in 2018 and the top 10 in 2016 and they had only placed twice before in 1958 and 1974. Amber did compete at Miss America 2020 going unplaced so she is not among my picks at the moment.

Regan Ringler

Regan competed several times in both Mississippi and Tennessee before finally clinching the crown. Tennessee traditionally has been a strong state but there is the odd year where they get excluded for whatever reason and I think that might happen this year so I have her as an alternate right now but that might change after prelims. Tennessee has won the crown twice thanks to two phenomenal beauties, Lynnette Cole in 2000 and Rachel Smith in 2007 and they last placed in 2022.

Lluvia Alzate

Let the rain rise. Lluvia has a story of recently losing her mother after a bout with ALS/Lou Gehrig's disease so this is sure to pull some heartstrings so she is among my top 10 currently. Texas, the most successful state at Miss USA, has won the crown 10 times including last year and Texas has a five-year streak winning from 1985 to 1989 so could Lluvia start yet another streak of wins for Texas??

Noelia Voigt

After twice being a 1st runner up at Miss Alabama USA 2022 and 2023 and even at Miss Florida Teen USA 2018, Noelia hopped to Utah and now has her chance to compete on the Miss USA stage and she is one of the favorites this year so I have her in my top 10 currently. 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 among the top 16 in 2021.

Jenna Howlett

Vermont managed to place last year after having not placed since 1982 but they did win the crown back in 1955. This delegate is not expected to place.

Ashley Williams

This delegate does have a cute look to her but I saw an interview that didn't convince me that she would place so she is in my next tier currently. Virginia won the crown twice back in 1969 and 1970 and last placed in 2021.

Samantha Gallia

Samantha earned her Doctor of Dental Surgery Degree from the Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry in 2022 is an Oral Radiology Resident at the University of Washington and formed #GirlDocsRock to promote careers and health and science among women so I think she could impress enough so she is among my top 16 for now but I know Washington tends to get ignored so I'll probably do some shuffling after prelims. Washington won the crown in 1968 but hasn't placed since 2004.

West Virginia
Nevaeh Harmon

West Virginia last placed in 2022 and has never won the crown. Nevaeh is pursuing a degree in biochemistry at Marshall University where she serves as student body vice president. However, this delegate is not among my picks.

Alexis Loomans

Alexis is another former teen having competing at Miss Teen USA 2018 but going unplaced. She is pursuing a degree in political science from the University of Wisconsin and is an ambassador for Jovani and Portia and Scarlett. I have Alexis as an alternate presently but she could move into my list after prelims. Wisconsin has never won but they did place in the top 10 in 2014.

Beck Bridger

Beck competed for Miss America 2019 going unplaced. Placements for Wyoming are extremely rare as they have only placed twice (1986 and 2010). This year's delegate is not expected to place.

Again, the preliminaries are on September 28. I will post my final predictions for Miss USA 2023 on the morning of September 29 and then later that night is the finals airing on the CW at 5pm(Pacific Standard Time)/8pm (Eastern Standard Time) so we shall see who will be queen for 2023!


FIRST ROUND PRETHOUGHTS (September 15, 2023)

Morgan Romano, Miss USA 2022Morgan Romano, Miss USA 2022
Who will succeed Miss USA 2022, Morgan Romano of North Carolina and be crowned Miss USA 2023??

Got Me On My Knees, Laylah!
I’m Beggin’, Darlin’, Please, Laylah!

Laylah Rose LoiczlyDarlin’, won’t you ease my worried mind?? So… we had yet another directorship change in 2023 for Miss USA and Miss Teen USA. The two pageants have been held concurrently since 2018. In 2020, it was announced that the Miss Universe organization would be releasing directorship of the two pageants to Miss USA 2008, Texas’ Crystle Stewart. The Coronavirus rocked the world in 2020 and that year’s Miss USA pageant aired on a smaller channel called fyi. In 2015, the Miss USA pageant aired on the Reelz channel which is another smaller channel not available in all states and Canada, just like fyi and this shift from the major network NBC to Reelz occurred when a certain former owner of the pageants decided to run for president and make some disparaging comments in the process leading to NBC dropping the 2015 Miss USA pageant and the original hosts and judges followed suit but knowing the established tradition of Miss USA, Reelz stepped up to broadcast the pageant and new hosts stepped in including Todd Newton, who color commentated for Miss Universe 2001 and a former contestant, Alex Wehrley-Miss Wisconsin USA 2009 and the judges were replaced by former titleholders in the Miss Universe organization. The following year, FOX would take over to broadcast Miss USA from 2016 to 2019, then fyi from 2020 to 2022. Max Sebrechts and Crystle StewartCrystle Stewart’s directorship started for 2021 but ended in 2023 after some contestants made allegations that the win of Texas’ delegate, R’Bonney Gabriel appeared to be predetermined and it felt like the cards were stacked in her favor. Apart from that, there were other allegations that Crystle’s husband, Max was acting inappropriately towards some of the contestants that didn’t win appearing to want to console them…if you know what I mean. The New York Times Presents is airing a documentary called ‘How To Fix A Pageant’ on the FX channel on the same day as the Miss USA pageant (September 29) which managed to get a more available network (the CW) to broadcast it and this documentary features interviews from contestants that will speak about what went on behind the scenes. One of these contestants is Taylor Hale-Miss Michigan USA 2021 who went unplaced at Miss USA 2021 but won Miss Congeniality and would go on to win the 2022 U.S. edition of the hit reality show competition, Big Brother. Taylor will be speaking in this documentary about the allegations so there will be a lot of pageant talk after September 29 when both Miss USA and this documentary airs and the new titleholders will likely be asked about all this in the media and our pageants should return to becoming more newsworthy. The president of the Miss Universe organization, Paula Shugart announced to the other 2022 Miss USA delegates that there was no wrongdoing found after an investigation was conducted and R’Bonney would stay as Miss USA 2022 and as we all know, R’Bonney would go on to win the Miss Universe 2022 title as well allowing the runner-up, North Carolina’s Morgan Romano to inherit the Miss USA title. The Miss Universe organization temporarily took back directorship of Miss USA and Miss Teen USA while the investigation was conducted and Crystle and her Miss Brand business amicably parted ways with the Miss Universe organization and the directorship of Miss USA and Miss Teen USA was then given to Laylah Rose Loiczly who had been directing the Miss Earth USA pageant to select the American representative at another Filipino-based international pageant called Miss Earth and she also runs VIP Pageantry. Although things appeared to be very slapped together at the last minute with dates up in the air, at least the venue was secured already last year as Reno, Nevada already signed a three-year deal to host Miss USA 2022 to 2024 but it looks like Laylah and her team managed to work out a deal to broadcast the Miss USA pageant on the CW much to the delight of many as this channel is more widely available and even in Canada! However, Miss Teen USA has still been relegated to a webcast on the CW app or and for the first time in history but maybe this might change next year. Miss Teen USA has only been webcast since 2008 after its last year on NBC in 2007. Miss Teen USA is being held on September 28 and Miss USA is being held on September 29 with the preliminaries on the day before, September 28 so pageant week seems to be a lot more rushed this year. There is a state costume show on September 27 and the delegates will start arriving in Reno a few days prior. For the longest time, the date was announced as ‘the week of September 25’ which led to a lot of confusion of people planning flights and booking tickets for the pageant so Laylah definitely ‘got us on our knees’ begging for some clarity but details were confirmed just in time. We have entered a bold new era of pageantry and Miss USA has chosen the slogan ‘The definition of pageantry’ which is a slight variation from Crystle’s slogan ‘Pageantry redefined’ and there are more changes as we will learn about in the next article so we shall see now if Laylah’s directorship is much more successful this time around so I’m sure she will do her best to ease our worried minds!

No! No Limits! We’ll Reach For The Sky!
No Valley Too Deep. No Mountain Too High!

Miss Universe 2022-R'Bonney Gabriel in Maxim magazineNo! No limits! Won’t give up the fight… They do what they want and they do it with pride! Well, they certainly are doing what they want! On September 12, USA’s R’Bonney Gabriel revealed on social media that as of 2024, there is no longer an age limit for Miss USA and Miss Universe! Bear in mind that these new rules are coming under the new Miss Universe organization leadership with the new owner since 2022, wealthy Thai transwoman, Khun Anne Jakrajutatip. This was a huge unprecedented and unexpected bit of news. This now means that ANY adult woman can now compete for Miss USA state pageants or their national title and after winning that national title, they can compete for Miss Universe! The entrant must be an adult woman from the age of 18 and up so technically the age limit would be 122 (which is the verified oldest age of a woman to live in modern history and that woman is France’s Jeanne Calment who is said to have lived to age 122 from February 21, 1875 to August 4, 1997). Yes, your grandmother can compete and all those amazing women that aged out over the years can now compete! For the longest time, a Miss Universe contestant had to be a natural born female citizen of her country between the ages of 18 to 26, then in 2013, we started seeing 27-year-olds compete and then in 2018, we started seeing 28-year-olds competing and now for 2024, since married women and women with children as well as transwomen can compete, ANY ADULT WOMAN aged 18 and up can now compete for her national title (assuming they permit it which directors have been instructed to do) and for Miss Universe if she wins her national title. Funnily enough, three Miss Universes were actually under-aged at 17 years of age when they won and they were the first two Miss Universes, Finland’s Armi Kuusela in 1952, France’s Christiane Martel in 1953 and the third was that controversial year of 1957 when Peru’s Gladys Zender won at age 17 but they had the whole ‘life begins at conception’ argument so Gladys kept her crown but Miss USA 1957, Maryland’s Leona Gage was disqualified from Miss Universe when it was learned that she was a married mother of two who also lied about her age. Miss USA 1957 press conference Leona was 18 years old when she won and not 21 as she originally declared. The 1950s were a very different time and the Miss USA and Miss Universe pageants were very new with some rules that were established. In 1952, Miss India, Indrani Rahman was already married with a child and even though she did not place in the top 10 of the first official Miss Universe pageant, she was not disqualified! Over the years, a lot of pageants have lost out on having great potential delegates due to her aging out. I particularly think of a lot of delegates that competed in Texas. For example, Miss Texas Teen USA 1995, Mandy Jeffreys tried several times to win Miss Texas USA and she got as high as 1st runner up in 2001 to Kandace Krueger who ended up winning Miss USA 2001 and getting 2nd runner up at Miss Universe 2001 but Mandy kept trying to win Miss Texas USA until she aged out at 26 which at the time was the age limit. Even Mandy’s teen successor, Christie Lee Woods who won Miss Teen USA 1996 tried three times to win Miss Texas USA but only managed a 3rd runner up finish at Miss Texas USA 2002. Even one of the favorites of Miss Thailand-Universe 2023, Preveenar (Veena) Singh Thakral even got married but got 2nd runner up at the Miss Thailand-Universe pageant on what would have been her last year of age eligibility but now she can continue trying until she wins!! I could go on and on as there are multiple examples of this but since married women with children can compete as of 2023 and there is no age limit as of 2024, that means all these ladies can compete again!!! Is this a business strategy to get more participants for state pageants whose numbers have been dwindling in recent years or is it an adaptation to the times by allowing women to compete for the coveted worldwide title of Miss Universe with no restrictions and experience no discrimination regardless of her race, marital status, maternal status or age?? Dreams can come true. Even disabled women have competed at Miss USA state pageants. Miss Iowa USA 2008, Abbey Curran was born with celebral palsy and had a male escort help her walk across the stage for preliminaries when she competed for Miss USA 2008 but ended up going unplaced. Madeline DelpEven at Miss North Carolina USA 2021, Madeline Delp competed in swimsuit and gown despite being in a wheelchair and she managed to place 4th runner up at Miss North Carolina USA 2021! Transwomen have been able to compete since 2012 when Vancouver’s Jenna Talackova competed at the Miss Universe Canada 2012 pageant placing among the top 12 that year at her national pageant but the first transwoman to make it to the Miss Universe stage was Spain’s Angela Ponce in 2018 and in 2023, we have our second trans delegate in Netherlands’ Rikkie Valerie Kollé and Rikkie’s fate will be determined on November 18 when we learn who wins Miss Universe 2023. Of course, R’Bonney Gabriel raised up this age issue herself during her top 5 question and answer round at Miss Universe 2022. R’Bonney picked judge Mara Martin who asked her, "Miss Universe recently made an inclusive change allowing mothers and married women to compete this year. What’s another change you’d like to see and why?" R’Bonney answered, "For me, I would like to see an age increase because I am 28 years old and that is the oldest age to compete and I think it’s a beautiful thing. My favorite quote is, “If not now, then when?” because as a woman, I believe age does not define us. It’s not tomorrow, it’s not yesterday, but it’s now. The time is now that you can go after what you want." This was a great answer from R'Bonney and relevant as the contestant age limit had only recently been upped to 28 but should there even have been an age limit in these modern times? Women have different aspirations in life and often want to achieve those goals and are delaying marriage and having children due to this so R’Bonney’s wishes came true and the age limit has been obliterated! I honestly didn’t think it would be eliminated entirely but maybe raised to about age 35 but here we are! No limits! Age discrimination be damned! Some debate that there are other smaller pageants like Mrs. America and Mrs. World for married women and other groups like trans delegates and so forth but it’s no secret that the world’s most popular established international pageants are Miss Universe and Miss World, both of which were established in the early 1950s so why not go for the title you truly desire?? In my eyes, it has always been Miss Universe as the premiere pageant of all which is why I have become such a dedicated fan. R'Bonney Gabriel is currently the oldest woman to hold the title of Miss Universe and she defeated Miss Universe 2020-Mexico's Andrea Meza's previous record as the oldest woman to win Miss Universe as R'Bonney's birthday is March 20, 1994 so she won the title of Miss Universe 2022 at the age of 28 years and almost 10 months on January 14, 2023 and Andrea Meza’s birthday is August 13, 1994 and she was 26 years and 9 months when she won Miss Universe 2020 on May 16, 2021 and like R’Bonney, Andrea won in a delayed leap year (Miss Universe 2020 was held in 2021 and Miss Universe 2022 was held in 2023). It seems like it won’t take long for R’Bonney’s record to be broken as there are lots of women over the age of 28 that are ready and willing to compete and there is a certain maturity level that comes with life experience so I actually expect these accomplished new participants over the age of 28 to do very well and be ready to commit and dedicate themselves to the job of being a national titleholder and possibly even Miss Universe. Wealthy Thai transwoman, Khun Anne Jakrajutatip, who owns the Miss Universe pageant as of 2022 has also announced that the 2024 Miss Universe pageant also has a venue in Latin America in a country that has more than one Miss Universe and it will be revealed on November 18 during the 2023 Miss Universe pageant so we will learn then which country it is. Many suspect it is Venezuela but it could also be Mexico, Puerto Rico or Colombia so we’ll find out soon. But yes, ladies that are now wanting to compete for Miss USA and Miss Universe thinking the chance had eluded you remember: “No! No limits! We’ll reach for the sky!”

Love and Marriage, Love and Marriage
Go Together Like A Horse And Carriage

Maine-Juliana MorehouseMaine's Juliana Morehouse with husband Taylor Reed LocklearAre we about to already have a Mrs. Miss USA? In 2023, both the Miss USA and Miss Universe pageants have permitted women who are or have been married and who have children to compete if they meet the age requirement. Again, the age limit for Miss USA used to be from age 18-26, then it was upped to 28 but as of 2024, there will be no age limit! This very issue was what led to the first dethronement in Miss USA history and the victim of this was Maryland’s Mary Leona Gage who won the Miss USA title in 1957 and back then the Miss Universe preliminaries and finals were held just a few days after the Miss USA pageant (it was done this way until 1965) and after the Miss Universe preliminaries had been held, news broke that Leona had already been married twice and had two young sons at the age of 18 but she even lied about her age and said she was 21! Because the preliminaries for Miss Universe had already been held and Leona made the top 15, it was too late for Leona’s runner up, Utah’s Charlotte Sheffield to compete so Leona’s spot in the top 15 for Miss Universe 1957 was given to the delegate that placed 16th, Argentina’s Monica Lamas. This would mark the only time in history that Miss USA didn’t participate through to the finals of Miss Universe and Utah’s Charlotte Sheffield was sent to compete at Miss World 1957 instead where she went unplaced.
Under the new 2023 rule, we have one married contestant to compete and she happens to be a legacy delegate! Maine’s Juliana Morehouse won the title of Miss Maine USA 2023 on November 20, 2022 but her wedding to her now husband was already planned and scheduled for April 29, 2023 so the wedding happened and now Juliana is married to Mr. Taylor Reed Locklear and despite being a Mrs., Juliana will still compete for the Miss USA 2023 title! Will her new status garner some attention and possibly get Juliana the Miss USA crown? Of course, many have questioned why Mrs. contestants are being permitted to compete in a Miss pageant that has long been intended for unwed contestants and there are already Mrs. pageants like the Mrs. America pageant which has been running since the 1970s but this is a reflection of the changing times yet some see this as an opportunity to get more contestants for state pageants that have had their numbers dwindle in recent years so allowing married contestants and those with children could mean more entrants which is better for business. Will a married delegate place? We shall see. It has long been understood that being Miss USA or Miss Universe is a job which requires travel and delegates before have been asked before that if being Miss USA meant they couldn’t date for a year, would they still want the title? Being away from a husband and especially children might be especially difficult so we will see if a delegate with a husband and/or children will ever win. There are also two delegates competing for Miss Universe that are married with children and they are Guatemala’s Michelle Cohn who is married to Andres Matheu and they have a son and daughter and also Colombia’s Camila Avella who is married to Nassif Kamle and they have one daughter. Both ladies are also 28 years of age (the maximum age for 2023 only). However, Juliana was far from aging out anyway as she is only 23 years old and is currently pursuing her master's degree in theology and their wedding on April 29th, 2023 was held in Charleston, South Carolina at St. Philip’s church. Lynn Jenkins-Miss North Carolina USA 1994But there’s more to Juliana’s story as she is a legacy delegate being the daughter of Lynn Jenkins-Morehouse and Lynn was Miss North Carolina USA 1994 and did very well at Miss USA placing as 2nd runner up to Miss USA 1994, South Carolina’s Lu Parker. During the 1994 Miss USA pageant, Lynn had a very distinctive look with her dimpled smile and at the time had graduated from the University of North Carolina with a degree in journalism. Lynn was asked by then host Bob Goen during her semifinal interview what an image consultant and motivational speaker was since her bio described her as that. Lynn said, “Yes, sir. Well, I’ve left the image consulting business and have been focusing more on motivational speaking and, um, it’s a gift of mine. I discovered it when I was travelling with a scholarship program throughout college and um, I began receiving letters from teenagers and young adults, um, and they told me the effect that I had on them that, that they really, um, wanted to achieve the things that I aspire to achieve and they really wanted to rise above mediocrity so I feel like I should use that gift and I want to do that all over the country.” When asked if people concentrate on image too much instead of substance, she replied, “Well, I think a first impression is very important. It can open a door and it makes extreme impact and that is a part of the service image but I’m going to tell you what, what comes from inside and the energy you feel from someone, that is what matters more than anything else in the world and if you’ve got the energy, you can do anything you want to!” Bob Goen praised her words to live by and Lynn would advance to the top 6 in 6th place at this point edging out Illinois’-Kathleen Farrell who finished in 7th place and Kathleen coincidentally also recently had a daughter compete, Ohio’s Elizabetta Nies who made the top 11 for Miss America 2023. Lynn went on to face the round of judge’s questions and she chose judge Erika Andersch who asked, “Some people have cosmetic surgery to change their appearance. Would you? Why or why not?” Bob Goen with the top 3 of Miss USA 1994 Lynn answered, “Well, I’m here at the Miss USA pageant and I’ve never had cosmetic surgery so I don’t see any need to. Um, gosh, I think…(audience applauses) That’s right! And I certainly think that God gives each of us a certain physique and certain gifts and we need to make the best of those and be very grateful for them because we could be much worse off so I’m not a real advocate of cosmetic surgery.” This answer impressed the judges so much that it propelled Lynn into the top 3 against the two heavy hitters of the night, South Carolina’s Lu Parker and Virginia’s Pat Southall. It was on to the final question which was centered around the Tonya Harding/Nancy Kerrigan controversy of the time. The final question was, “The Winter Olympic games begin tomorrow. Do you think an athlete who has been linked to but not arrested for a crime should be allowed to represent the United States?” Lynn answered, “Well, I think that being in the Olympics is a tremendous honor but I also think that everyone has the right to their innocence and what a shame it would be if that person were not able to compete and win with what they have every right to win but at the same time, if they have been found guilty of the charge, I think they should be publicly stripped of everything they’ve won because they certainly didn’t deserve it.” Lynn joined the other two members of the top 3 and it looked like she told Pat Southall that she was through then burst out laughing about it but making top three is an incredible achievement. Will Juliana’s mother Lynn’s success be passed on to her daughter and could Juliana even surpass her and get the coveted Miss USA crown?? Of course, we have seen mother-daughter scenarios before at Miss USA and sometimes their placements are similar and other times, they are completely different. One notable example of this is North Carolina’s Jeannine Boger who went unplaced at Miss USA 1982 but one of her daughters, Kristen Dalton, would win Miss USA 2009 whereas another daughter, Julia Dalton would also go unplaced at Miss USA 2015 like her mother despite placing as 2nd runner up at Miss Teen USA 2008. The pine tree state has never won the Miss USA crown with their best placement being 4th runner up in 2010 and they haven’t placed since 2018. Could Juliana’s unique status and being a legacy delegate curry the judges’ favor and possibly get Maine their first crown??

They’re Going Back Someday,
Come What May to Blue Bayou
(Because They’re All From Louisiana…)

LouisianaNevadaYes, that’s right, ladies and gentlemen. We have four, count ‘em, FOUR delegates competing for Miss USA 2023 that have all competed at either Miss Louisiana USA or Miss Louisiana Teen USA! So let’s start with the actual winner of the Miss Louisiana USA title, Sylvia Masters. Sylvia earned a Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communication and Journalism from Nicholls State and currently works as a morning anchor and reporter for KLFY News 10 in the Lafayette region reporting on news and events affecting Acadiana and Southwest Louisiana. She is the oldest of five children born and raised on the bayous in southeast Louisiana and was quite the tomboy growing up doing things like dirt bike riding and playing soccer and we all know how much judges love a tomboy-turned-beauty-queen story! Sylvia is very experienced as she has competed in pageants for 15 years and she has placed in 5 Miss Louisiana USA pageants leading up to her win placing in the top 5 for 2021 and 2022. Sylvia is passionate about creating awareness of issues that concern her like advocating for early detection and screenings for cancer in memory of her father and she visits childhood cancer patients in Child Life Centers throughout Louisiana’s hospitals. Sylvia also likes to foster puppies year round and encourages adoption of animals with hopes of decreasing the overcrowding in animal shelters. Sylvia is even a musician and plays piano for special events like weddings and funerals and sings the national anthem for sporting events too! These interesting facets about Sylvia should make her a fascinating interview so she is one to watch. Louisiana has won three Miss USA crowns thanks to Eurlyne Howell in 1958, Sharon Brown in 1961 and Ali Landry in 1996 so is it time again? But some other Louisiana ladies would like to challenge her. Namely, her first runner-up, Nevada’s Josie Stephens.
Like Sylvia Masters, Josie has had to settle for runner-up positions most of the times she competed in Louisiana and, before the new age rule was announced, would have aged out this year since she is 28 years of age until she hopped to Nevada and won the title of Miss Nevada USA on what was supposedly her last year of eligibility! What fate! Josie was always considered a favorite for the Louisiana state title but she displayed natural charm and humor apart from her breathtaking beauty when she answered during the Miss Nevada USA pageant that she admired Marie Curie… but not how she died… that was bad! It was a spontaneously humorous moment and she won the hearts of many and just when she thought her chance had eluded her, suddenly Josie earned her chance to compete for Miss USA and she is definitely considered one of the favorites for the crown. Josie is accomplished too as she holds a Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. If you can believe it, Josie was 1st runner up three years in a row at Miss Louisiana USA for 2021, 2022 and 2023 and was 2nd runner up in 2020 so it’s incredible that she pulled this off. Josie is also considered the host delegate but the host delegate hasn’t won Miss USA since Texas’ Chelsi Smith won in 1995 in her home state preceding a Miss Universe win so can Josie do the same thing?? Nevada has captured the Miss USA crown once in 2014 thanks to Nia Sanchez who also had previously competed and placed high in another state, California, so is Josie about to capture the Miss USA crown in a similar fashion?? We’ll soon find out!
North CarolinaArkansasThe next former Louisiana USA participant we will discuss is North Carolina’s Jordyn McKey. Jordyn also has an incredible track record at Miss Louisiana USA placing 3rd runner up at Miss Louisiana USA 2022, 2nd runner up for 2021 and 1st runner up for 2020. Now working in the health care industry, Jordyn obtained a degree in Marketing graduating from Southeastern Louisiana University in 2020. She is employed with the women’s health company, Hologic and is one of six surgical specialists in the United States for an innovative surgical procedure that helps women combat uterine fibroids. She is passionate about empowering women in healthcare and the corporate world and advocates for positive mental health and encourages people to not limit themselves to one label in life and she hopes to set an example by being a woman of prominence in pageantry, in the corporate world and in healthcare. Jordyn is certainly another one to watch this year. North Carolina has captured three Miss USA crowns thanks to Chelsea Cooley in 2005, Kristen Dalton in 2009 and the late, great Cheslie Kryst in 2019 and they even inherited another crown with Morgan Romano last year in 2022 after R’Bonney Gabriel won Miss Universe so could Jordyn capture yet another Miss USA crown for the Tarheel state??
Also, Arkansas’ Mackenzie Hinderberger was a semifinalist at Miss Louisiana Teen USA 2017 before the move to Arkansas where she won the Miss Arkansas Teen USA 2018 title but going unplaced at Miss Teen USA 2018 and here she is now representing Arkansas at Miss USA 2023. Mackenzie is an elementary school teacher and obtained her bachelor’s degree in elementary education from the University of Arkansas. Arkansas won its only Miss USA crown back in 1982 thanks to Terri Utley and they last placed in 2019 so will that Louisiana magic help the Arkansas delegate since she is originally from there?
Wow, it almost makes me want to change the lyrics to a certain song to: I wish they all could be Louisiana girls!! Louisiana just hosted the most recent Miss Universe pageant in January 2023 in New Orleans which was won by last year’s Miss USA, R’Bonney Nola Gabriel so that middle name was no-la coincidence since Nola is also a nickname abbreviation for New Orleans, Louisiana so it was a little bit of destiny in the making!

California Dreamin’

CaliforniaArizonaAll the leaves are brown… Speaking of statehopping, California also appears to have multiple representatives that have competed at Miss California USA at the 2023 Miss USA pageant! In 2021, you will recall that I pointed out that 11 of the Miss USA delegates that year had competed in Miss California USA but it’s a well-known strategy to hop to another state to get to the Miss USA stage and this year, we have at least four delegates that once competed at Miss California USA so we shall begin by meeting the most populous state’s representative herself, Tianna Clark who hails from Perris and she previously competed for the California title in 2021 placing as a semifinalist that year with a very different hairstyle. In addition to being a model and actress, Tianna is a sergeant in the Army National Guard which immediately makes me recall Miss USA 2016-Deshauna Barber who also served in the military and Tianna draws inspiration from Deshauna. Tianna is a graduate of California State University, San Bernardino obtaining a bachelor’s degree in sociology with a minor in psychology in 2018. She also aims to get her master’s degree with the ambition to become a youth psychologist. California has claimed the Miss USA crown six times making them second only to Texas who has claimed the crown ten times so will Tianna capture yet another crown for the Golden state? Speaking of authority figures, let’s now meet Arizona’s delegate, Candace Kanavel who is a police officer for the Tempe police! Candace was a non-finalist at Miss California USA 2019 but would place as a semifinalist in Arizona 2020, 2021 and 1st runner-up in 2022 then capturing the Arizona title for 2023. She also has a degree in political science and criminal justice. I wonder if the judges would be intimidated by her seeing how she is a police officer so will she place and possibly even get the crown due to this?? I’m sure the judges will be fair. Arizona has never won the Miss USA crown but they did inherit it in 1980 when South Carolina’s Shawn Weatherly won Miss Universe 1980 resulting in her runner-up, Arizona’s Jineane Ford obtaining their only Miss USA crown.
Rhode IslandColoradoNext, we shall meet Rhode Island’s Mary Malloy who got all the way to 1st runner up at Miss California USA 2021 but would be only a semifinalist the following year at Miss California USA 2022 before statehopping to Rhode Island and she ended up winning Miss Rhode Island USA 2023! Mary was even previously Miss Rhode Island Teen USA 2015 but she went unplaced at Miss Teen USA 2015. She is a mental health advocate and she holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Emerson College in Boston, Massachusetts which is a school that has generated many past pageant participants. Rhode Island has captured the Miss USA crown only once but that winner in 2012, Olivia Culpo went on to win the Miss Universe crown as well! Can Mary do the same thing? We’ll soon find out! Another delegate that has competed in California is Colorado’s Arianna Lemus. Arianna was a semifinalist at Miss California USA 2018 and 2019, hopped to Nevada going unplaced in 2020, then to Colorado placing as 1st runner up for 2022 then winning Miss Colorado USA 2023! Arianna was born and raised in Los Angeles and now claims joint residency between Colorado and California. She owns and operates a video production company called MíraLA founded in 2023 and she also created her own film festival to showcase films created by women who are of a visible minority group. Colorado has never been able to capture the Miss USA crown but their best placement was as 3rd runner up which happened two times (in 1963 and 2010) and placements for Colorado are rare but we shall see if Arianna’s efforts to promote diversity and inclusion will get her noticed in a big way. California dreamin’ on such a Winter’s day…(it will be Autumn though when the new Miss USA is crowned!)

Here Comes the Lluvia Again
Falling On My Head Like A Memory

TexasTexas' Lluvia Alzate with her mother FannyBorn in Colombia, Lluvia Alzate literally translates from Spanish to ‘Rain Rise’ so that awesome name alone gets bonus points for a potential Miss USA for this year’s representative of the most successful state in Miss USA history, Texas! The lonestar state captured the Miss USA crown just last year and that winner, R’Bonney Gabriel went on to win Miss Universe 2022 as well so the pressure is on Lluvia to pull off a successive win for her state but as we all know, Texas has definitely achieved this before. In fact, Texas captured the crown for an unprecedented five years in a row from 1985 to 1989 thanks to Laura Martinez Herring, Christy Fichtner, Michelle Royer, Courtney Gibbs and Gretchen Polhemus and now will Lluvia be able to start yet another five-year chain for Texas?? Maybe more than five years?? We shall see! Lluvia probably could take down the competition in a very unique way as she used to be a wrestler in high school so those other girls better watch out!! No, I’m sure she recognizes Miss USA is a very different competition! Lluvia is a woman with a mission and her rise to the crown began when her mother, Fanny, was diagnosed with Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig's Disease, in 2019 forcing Lluvia to be a full-time caregiver and she decided to branch out into pageantry to spread awareness about the disease that sadly took her mother’s life in December 2022 which was a few months before Lluvia won the Miss Houston USA title in February 2023 that eventually led her to win the coveted title of Miss Texas USA 2023. Will the rain rise and let Lluvia’s reign rise as Miss USA 2023?

Sweet Caroline

Good times never seemed so good! Sweet Caroline Dixon represents the Sunshine state of Florida. An achieved woman at 25 years old and hailing from Homosassa, Caroline is a graduate of Florida State University obtaining degrees in Communications and Digital Media Studies in addition to a Juris Master from the College of Law. Caroline is dedicated to community service having once served as a teacher of the first grade and she is currently working as a Senior Legislative Aide to a Florida State Senator, Ed Hooper. This position has granted her the opportunity to work on policies to improve the state of Florida and she is passionate about setting an example to inspire and empower young women. Caroline is also well-travelled and been to nine countries throughout her life. She is also engaged to her high-school sweetheart and is quite happy about the new rule change about titleholders being allowed to be married and/or have children saying it allows them to lives their lives freely and feel comfortable doing that. Caroline was 4th runner up to the Florida title in 2022 and a semifinalist in 2021 before clinching the title this year so will her achievements impress the judges enough and can she win Florida’s first outright Miss USA crown? If you can believe it, despite hosting several times, Florida has never won Miss USA but they did inherit the crown in 1967 when the winner, Alabama’s Sylvia Hitchcock went on to win Miss Universe and when the 1st runner up, California’s Susan Bradley declined the Miss USA title, the 2nd runner up, Florida’s Cheryl Patton claimed the crown for Florida. Florida last placed in 2021 with Ashley Carino who made the top 5 at Miss USA 2021 and then Ashley famously countryhopped to Puerto Rico and won that nation’s title and again made the top 5 at Miss Universe 2022! Will sweet Caroline be one of the final two reacting to a win after holding ‘hands, touching hands, reaching out, touching me, touching you??’

Let Me Think About It

North DakotaIda CorrCan I get wit’ you, baby? Blow ya mind. Do whatever ya like?? North Dakota has made history and crowned its very first black delegate for Miss USA and she is the fabulous Monni Nyaribo who boldly dared to be different and styled her hair in an afro reminiscent of the disco diva era of the 1970s. Monni had her hair styled differently in the 2022 Miss North Dakota USA pageant where she finished as 4th runner up. Monni’s mission is to guide the state of North Dakota towards the passage of the CROWN Act, which prohibits race-based hair discrimination and plans to wear her afro hairstyle during the 2023 Miss USA pageant. Will we see the Miss USA crown on that afro?? Monni has been described as spunky and tenacious so could she charm her way to the crown? One thing I particularly like about Monni’s ‘fro is that she immediately makes me think of one of my favorite music videos for the song ‘Let Me Think About It’ by Ida Corr vs. Fedde Le Grand where Ida and her crew dance fiercely and seductively while sporting afro hairstyles. Monni’s parents immigrated from Kenya to the United States so she is proudly a first generation Kenyan-American and she is originally from Champlain, Minnesota but moved to Fargo to attend North Dakota State University where she is pursuing Bachelor’s degrees in Marketing and Biological Sciences, with a Minor in Chemistry. Monni also wants to bring awareness about the issue of burnout which she experienced herself after a life altering experience leading Monni to pivot from a career in pharmacy to embrace her passion for humanitarianism. Monni aims to become a United Nations international marketing executive and has a mission to advocate for the improvement of humanity and for the poor and downtrodden. North Dakota has never won the crown but in the five times that they have placed in Miss USA history, they made the top 6 each time! No other state can claim this record! These proud North Dakotan ladies were: Judy Ann Slayton (3rd runner up in 1966), Elizabeth Ann Jaeger (4th runner up in 1983), Juliette Spier (5th runner up in 1996), Audra Mari (1st runner up in 2014 and also 1st runner up at Miss Teen USA 2011 and Audra is also currently expecting a child with husband, actor Josh Duhamel who has another child, son Axl which he shares with ex, Fergie who has performed at Miss Universe 2017 and Fergie’s song ‘Glamorous’ was also the song used to accompany the 2007 Miss USA evening gown competition) and Caitlyn Vogel (1st runner up in 2021 and also 1st runner up at Miss Teen USA 2019). Audra and Caitlyn happen to be the only two women in history to place 1st runner up at both Miss USA and Miss Teen USA! Now, we have Monni with a chance to capture North Dakota’s first Miss USA crown so will her unique look and style get her the win?? Let me think about it!!

All or Nothing (Push)
It's Got to Be

South CarolinaI wasn’t expecting to have to use yet another Milli Vanilli song for a headline but here we are! So there’s an interesting pattern to be noted and it centers around a woman that places as 1st runner up at Miss Teen USA and then goes on to compete for Miss USA and this year, that woman is South Carolina’s representative, Kirby Elizabeth Self. Kirby was 1st runner up to Miss Teen USA 2018, Kansas’ Hailey Colborn. The pattern is that all the ladies that placed as 1st runner up at Miss Teen USA that have gone on to compete for Miss USA have either made the top 3 at Miss USA or not placed at all at Miss USA! So let’s recap these notable women now. They are:
North Dakota’s Caitlyn Vogel (1st runner up at Miss Teen USA 2019 and 1st runner-up at Miss USA 2021)
South Carolina’s Tori Sizemore (1st runner up at Miss Teen USA 2013 but unplaced at Miss USA 2018)
North Dakota’s Audra Mari (1st runner up at Miss Teen USA 2011 and 1st runner-up at Miss USA 2014)
Illinois’ Lexi Atkins (1st runner up at Miss Teen USA 2010 but unplaced at Miss USA 2014)
Georgia’s Brooke Fletcher (1st runner up at Miss Teen USA 2009 but unplaced at Miss USA 2015)
New Jersey then California’s Alyssa Campanella (1st runner up at Miss Teen USA 2007 and winner of Miss USA 2011)
New York’s Gloria Almonte (1st runner up at Miss Teen USA 2001 but unplaced at Miss USA 2007)
Texas’ Nicole O'Brien (1st runner up at Miss Teen USA 2000 and 2nd runner up at Miss USA 2003)
Indiana’s Kelly Lloyd (1st runner up at Miss Teen USA 1993 and 2nd runner up at Miss USA 2002)
Georgia's Meredith Young (1st runner up at Miss Teen USA 1991 but unplaced at Miss USA 1999)
There’s also one Teen first runner up that attempted to win a Miss USA title and that’s North Carolina’s Emily Wakeman who was 1st runner up at Miss Teen USA 2016 but hopped to South Carolina in 2021 and finished again 1st runner up interestingly enough to her co-competitor, the 2nd runner up at Miss Teen USA 2016, Marley Stokes!
This list clearly shows how one pageant can have completely different results from another so the judging isn’t always consistent but sometimes the performance of a delegate can change from pageant to pageant.
South CarolinaKirby Self is about to join this list of ten ladies who placed 1st runner up at Miss Teen USA and then competed at Miss USA and it’s a hit or Miss list since half of these ladies (Kelly, Nicole, Alyssa, Audra and Caitlyn) made the top 3 at both Miss USA and Miss Teen USA whereas the other half (Meredith, Gloria, Brooke, Lexi and Tori) didn’t place at Miss USA. Kirby is a very accomplished woman but what leads me to believe that she will join the list of Teen 1st runner ups that didn’t place at Miss USA was when I watched her answer to her final question at Miss South Carolina USA 2023. The host Tim Tialdo asked her, “We’re seeing a rise in companies using biometric technologies such as facial scans and fingerprinting to allow people to shop or travel. Do you enjoy the convenience that this allows or would you prefer more limited and private access to your personal information?” Kirby answered, “For me, I would prefer private, um, being, having my information private. Um, I think all too often, we have different, um… Social media today is taking our… (sighs/long pause). I prefer my privacy and I think that now today especially more than ever, AI and technology is being used more often to sell our information. Having privacy and our own controls over this is important for our generation and for our protection as U.S. citizens.” I think she perhaps might have had a pre-prepared answer for this question and perhaps she forgot part of it or her nerves got the best of her and distracted her when she was answering this question because this answer was somewhat scattered and all over the place but she got her point across in the end once she gathered herself and the judges rewarded her with the South Carolina crown anyway despite the stumbly answer. Also, I will say I think her look is more Teen than Miss but I have been wrong about this kind of thing and she could wow the judges and earn a spot in the semifinals especially with her impressive resumé. She graduated Magna Cum Laude from Clemson University with a double major in Political Science and Women’s Leadership, minoring in Non-Profit Leadership. She also worked with a team that sought to help restore the Caribbean island of Dominica and offer solutions of sustainability after the destruction caused by Hurricane Maria. She helped coordinate and develop volunteer opportunities for students looking for volunteer work during spring break. She also served as Vice President of Philanthropy and Service supervising these efforts for thirteen sororities at Clemson University. She is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Sustainability focusing on corporate sustainability and innovation from the Harvard Extension School. She coaches track and field and is even looking to earn a pilot’s license! Will her Self-less acts win Miss Self the Miss USA crown? South Carolina has captured the Miss USA crown three times and the first two of those winners: Miriam Stevenson (1954) and Shawn Weatherly (1980) would go on to win Miss Universe as well! Lu Parker also won the crown for South Carolina in 1994. South Carolina has claimed a Miss World crown thanks to Gina Tolleson who as 1st runner up to Miss USA 1990, Michigan’s Carole Gist, was sent to represent the United States at Miss World capturing their 1990 crown. South Carolina even has two Miss Teen USA crowns thanks to Vanessa Minnillo in 1998 and K. Lee Graham in 2014.

Rest in Peace
Marisol Malaret-Miss Universe 1970

Marisol MalaretMarisol MalaretWe lost another Miss Universe in 2023. Puerto Rico’s Marisol Malaret passed away at the age of 73 on March 19 from complications of a pulmonary condition. She is the seventh Miss Universe to enter mortality succeeding the six Miss Universes of the following years: 1955-Sweden’s Hellevi Rombin (deceased 1996 in a plane crash), 1974-Spain’s Amparo Munoz (deceased 2011 due to brain aneurysm complications), 1967-USA’s Sylvia Hitchcock (deceased 2015 of cancer), 1958-Colombia’s Luz Marina Zuluaga (deceased 2015 of natural causes), 1960-USA’s Linda Bement (deceased 2018 of natural causes) and 1995-USA’s Chelsi Smith (deceased 2018 of liver cancer). Marisol was first of five Puerto Ricans to win the Miss Universe crown in 1970 so she is highly revered among Boricuans. Marisol’s win also seemed to fuel the interest of Puerto Rico in becoming the first host nation outside of the mainland United States which they did for both Miss USA and Miss Universe in 1972. Puerto Rico would host twice more in 2001 and 2002. Marisol became an orphan as a child and Marisol's mother Lydia's dying words were, 'You take care of your brother.' Marisol's brother Jesus was quadriplegic from a forceps injury at birth. Marisol and her brother were then raised by an aunt who instilled confidence in Marisol. She tried out for Miss Puerto Rico upon suggestion of a friend and also because the pageant was raising money for disabled people so she borrowed a gown as she couldn't afford one at the time and ended up winning. Marisol was married thrice to: model Butch James, musician Corky Stroman who is the father of her daughter, Sasha and engineer Frank Cué. During the 1970 Miss Universe pageant in Miami Beach hosted by Bob Barker and during her top 15 interview, she was asked to say her name and job which was an executive secretary and model. When Bob asked what she would like to do and that he understands that she hopes to be married, she said, "Oh yes, sir!" Bob asked how old do you think you should be when you get married, Marisol replied, “I don’t know. I’m just waiting for it. I don’t, I don’t think that… When love comes, that will be perfect. No special age at all.” Bob said, “And you think it can happen any time?” Marisol replied, “Yes, sir.” Bob dismissed her by saying, “You just go right out there to meet the man near that ramp out there some place.” Marisol squealed with laughter and walked off showing her costume. After competing in the swimsuit and gown competitions, it was time for the top 5 to answer the final question, “Why do you want to be Miss Universe?” Bob had to silence the loud applause from some in the audience by saying, “Please! She won’t be able to hear the question, audience!” Marisol answered, “Oh. I would love to be Miss Universe for the first reason because I would get to travel the whole universe and for me, getting to know every human being in this earth would be the most and perfect thing in the whole world.” When saying her farewell, Marisol said in her farewell speech, “It seems like only yesterday I was walking the stage for the first time and I can clearly remember being asked, ‘Why did you want to be Miss Universe?’ It was because I believed it would give me the opportunity to get to really know human beings better. To hear that you wanted me was that unique experience. A year ago, I felt a love and understanding among the contestants and travelling and meeting people all over the world has only strengthened my beliefs that what the universe needs most is love and understanding today. I will never forget this year.” I heard Marisol apparently wore a wig when competing and beat out favorite USA’s Debbie Shelton for the Miss Universe crown but Marisol seemed to have developed her speaking skills over the years. In 1994, Inside Edition’s Cindy Hom interviewed Marisol about her reign and Marisol dished about how she really felt! She spoke of being a former Miss Universe, "It gets into your private life so much so definitely, you have the love of your country and the love of your people but you pay a high price for that recognition." This led Marisol to keep the fact that she won from her daughter Sasha until she was older. She continued, “She’s been kept quite separate from the contest. I want her to be a girl that is happy with the way she looks, is proud of the way she looks but understand that life has so many other things to offer.” Marisol had this advice for future titleholders saying, “When you win, all of sudden you are the biggest personality. It’s razzle-dazzle. The limos. The people that adore you. The press. The photos. The interviews. But when you finish, in a second, there’s a new one so if you don’t have your head together, it can be very hard.” Marisol was very frank and honest in this interview and set some realistic expectations about a potential reign as Miss Universe and its highs and lows in life having lived it herself. Marisol would also appear as a judge in later editions of Miss Universe like 1977 looking like Farrah Fawcett and 2002 in her home country of Puerto Rico. Marisol also crowned both Miss Universe 1971, Lebanon’s Georgina Rizk and her successor, Miss Universe 1972, Australia’s Kerry Wells as Georgina could not attend the 1972 pageant in Puerto Rico due to security risks but Georgina appeared among the other former Miss Universes present at Miss Universe 1973 in Athens, Greece. Marisol was the first Puerto Rican to ever place at Miss Universe and she walked away with the Miss Universe crown also becoming the first woman from the Caribbean to do so.

Rest in Peace, Puerto Rico's Marisol Malaret-Miss Universe 1970 (October 13, 1949-March 19, 2023)

Bob Barker, the host of Miss Universe 1970 with the winner, Puerto Rico’s Marisol Malaret.
Bob and Marisol share a special bond as they both passed away in the year 2023. Marisol at age 73 and Bob at age 99.

Closest To 100 Without Going Over
Rest in Peace, Bob Barker
(Longest Serving Host of Miss USA and Miss Universe from 1967 to 1987)

Surrounded by Miss USAs and Miss Universes - Bob Barker poses with multiple titleholders (from top left to bottom right: Miss USA 1976-Minnesota's Barbara Peterson, Miss USA 1977-Texas' Kim Tomes, Miss Universe 1964-Greece's Corinna Tsopei, Miss Universe 1967-USA's Sylvia Hitchcock, Miss USA 1980-Arizona's Jineane Ford, Bob Barker and Miss Universe 1980-USA's Shawn Weatherly)

“Come on down, Miss USA!” Bob Barker was often heard uttering these famous words whenever he was calling Miss USA into the semifinals of Miss Universe as this was a common phrase said on the game show that Bob was best known for hosting ‘The Price is Right’ on CBS which was the channel that broadcasted the Miss USA and Miss Universe pageant during the era that Bob hosted. But pageants came before ‘The Price is Right’ which debuted with Bob as host in 1972 although the show had a previous run from 1956 to 1965 and Bob hosted the revamped modern version from 1972 to 2007 when he retired and was replaced by Drew Carey. Bob holds the distinction as the longest serving host of both Miss USA and Miss Universe for 21 years from 1967 to 1987. Bob Barker with Miss Universe 1984-Sweden's Yvonne Ryding as she is sashed by Miss Universe 1983-New Zealand's Lorraine DownesBob was born in Darrington, Washington and he made a big deal about this during his interview with Sweden’s Yvonne Ryding on her way to becoming Miss Universe 1984. During her semifinal interview, Bob asked Yvonne if she had been to the United States before and she mentioned going to New Jersey and then to Seattle, Washington and when she mentioned Washington, this triggered Bob to ask her if she visited Darrington, Washington to which she innocently replied, “No” prompting Bob to ask, “Did anyone tell you the historical significance of Darrington, Washington?” which caused Yvonne to almost panic that she didn’t know anything about Darrington and then Bob subtly mentioned, “You mean…no one told you that Bob Barker was BORN in Darrington, Washington??” This caused the Miami audience to burst into laughter and all innocent Yvonne could say was, “I’m sorry!! I’m sorry!” Bob said she was forgiven and Yvonne would go on to win the Miss Universe crown that night.
Bob’s broadcasting career began during his college years and he was eventually given his own radio show in Burbank, California which ran from 1950 to 1956 and then Bob would host the game show ‘Truth or Consequences’ from 1956 to 1975. Bob was the host during the pivotal years of Miss USA and Miss Universe. In 1967, his first winner of Miss USA, Alabama’s Sylvia Hitchcock would go on to win Miss Universe 1967 and the USA would win again in 1980 thanks to South Carolina’s Shawn Weatherly. The advancement of technology of the time allowed television events to broadcast live via satellite from various parts around the world allowing the Miss Universe pageant to travel to different parts of the world and the first venue outside the U.S. mainland was Puerto Rico which hosted both the 1972 Miss USA and Miss Universe pageants and since then the Miss USA pageant has travelled throughout various cities in the United States that agreed to host and the Miss Universe pageant travelled to countries like Greece, the Philippines, El Salvador, Hong Kong, Dominican Republic, Mexico, Australia, Korea, Peru, Panama and Singapore during Bob’s tenure.
Bob married the self-described love of his life, Dorothy Jo Gideon in 1945 and she died at age 57 on October 19, 1981, just six months after her lung cancer diagnosis. During Shawn Weatherly’s farewell speech at the finale of the 1981 Miss Universe pageant held on July 20, 1981, the camera shifted briefly to Bob Barker who had a somewhat somber look on his face possibly due to the tape delay of Shawn’s pre-recorded speech but I think he may have been thinking of his ailing wife at that moment. Earlier during that pageant, Bob spoke with Miss Canada, Dominique Dufour and during her semifinal interview, he asked her who her favorite television star was but Dominique misheard and thought he said show and she replied, “The Price is Right!” Bob followed up with “Do you really watch the Price is Right?” Dominique replied, “I have no choice! My father is sitting up there and he watches the Price is Right every night!” Bob then says, “Your father is here in the balcony? You, sir, have won a refrigerator!!” prompting the audience to erupt in laughter and Dominique would go from 12th in the preliminaries all the way to finish as 1st runner up that night to Venezuela’s Irene Saez!
Bob knew how to keep the show moving and ask the right questions and inject a little humor when needed. He did show respect for the ladies and you could see that he wanted to make the competition a pleasant experience for each of them.

The 1973 Miss USA pageant: (left to right: Nevada's Laura Fritz, New York's Susan Carlson, Bob Barker, Miss USA 1973-Illinois' Amanda Jones, Texas' Lavonne McConnell, Rhode Island's Gayle White, Arizona's Sherry Nix, California's Carol Herrema)

At the conclusion of the 1973 Miss USA pageant after Illinois’ Amanda Jones won the crown, Bob began asking her a series of questions until he got to asking, “This is a beautiful place for it to all happen here in New York City, is it not?” To which Amanda replied in a pleasantly frustrated and dismissive manner, “I think you’d better stop asking me questions because I’m about to have a coronary!” Bob then said, “Oh no! Don’t do that! You’re going to be a wonderful Miss USA!” and then he escorted Amanda to her throne as Miss USA 1973.

Bob Barker with then choreographer Gene Bayliss being crowned by Miss Universe 1976, Israel's Rina Messinger during a rehearsal for the 1977 Miss Universe pageant in the Dominican Republic

Some of my other favorite moments with Bob include when he interviewed Switzerland’s Patrice Sollner in the 1969 Miss Universe pageant and he asked her about her pets to which she replied, “What?? Pets?? What’s that??” Bob catches on and says, “You have animals at home?” Patrice replies, “Yes, animals!” Bob asked, “What are they?” Patrice says, “I have a dog. His name is Whiskey. I have a cat. His name is Tina. I have two birds and… a cat. His name is Tina!” Bob quips, “She has two cats named Tina!” Patrice then says, “No! One cat and a turtle. A turtle with a big house.” Bob goes, “Oh, a turtle?” Patrice says, “Yes, his name is Go-Go.” Bob then quickwittedly concludes the interview by saying, “Thank you. Go! Go! Miss Switzerland!” triggering audience laughter as Bob’s ushers Switzerland’s rep to go to her spot on stage. Another moment I enjoyed was when he interviewed Malaysia’s Josephine Wong during the 1970 Miss Universe pageant asking her about being one of a few car salesladies in her country. Bob asked her, “Do you know much about cars?” to which Josephine responds, “Not much. Just enough to swindle my customers, I guess!” This answer caused Bob to burst out laughing and say, “Oh, you pretty little thing!”
Bob Barker protests furBarker's Beauties: Dian Parkinson aka Dianna Lynn Batts-4th runner up to Miss USA 1965, Holly Hallstrom and Janice Parkinson with Bob BarkerBob became a staunch animal rights activist and would regularly tell people at the end of each broadcast of the Price is Right to have their pets spayed or neutered and a source of conflict between Bob and then producers of Miss USA and Miss Universe was that the winners were awarded fur coats. Even in the 1987 Miss USA pageant, they incorporated fur jackets for each of the semifinalists to wear during the swimsuit competition prompting Bob to say that “Miss Arizona and all of the ladies are wearing SIMULATED furs.” Bob managed to get them to substitute real furs with synthetic furs in 1987 but after he called for the awarding of furs to be banned, the owners of the time refused and this was what led to Bob Barker and the Miss USA and Miss Universe pageants parting ways and Alan Thicke would succeed him in 1988 with the Barkerless Miss USA 1988 pageant suffering a 29 percent decline in ratings from the previous year. The furs from Flemington Furs in New Jersey would continue to be awarded until 1996 but Bob Barker did not return to host Miss USA or Miss Universe.
Despite his animal rights work and winning multiple Emmy awards and even surpassing Johnny Carson in the length of his television career, Bob did experience some controversy behind the scenes with some of the Barker’s Beauties that modelled showing off the prizes on the Price is Right. One of the most notable was yet another Miss USA contestant, Dian Parkinson who was Miss District of Columbia USA 1965 under her original name of Dianna Lynn Batts and 4th runner up to Miss USA 1965, Ohio’s Sue Ann Downey. Dian later won the Miss USA World 1965 pageant and would represent the USA at Miss World 1965 finishing as 1st runner up to the UK’s Lesley Langley. Dian had been modelling for the Price is Right since 1975 but left in 1993 and filed a lawsuit against Bob for sexual harassment but the suit was withdrawn with Dian citing its costliness and the stress causing health issues. Another model, Holly Hallstrom was dismissed from the Price of Right supposedly due to a weight gain but she alleged there was more to it and that she was told to misrepresent her memory of the events surrounding Dian’s claims which led to a lot of back and forth that eventually resulted in a settlement that Holly says she got due to never marrying and never having children giving her the time to fight. Interestingly enough, Bob also never re-married after his wife, Dorothy Jo passed in 1981 and they did not have children so much of Bob’s $70 million estate is being given to animal rights charities and military charities. Nancy Burnet was his girlfriend and caregiver during Bob’s final days and she is president of the United Activists for Animal Rights charity. It’s interesting because I had thought of a prediction of Bob Barker’s date of death and emailed it to my friend, Michael and told him about the BW chain. BW-Betty White passed away on December 31, 2021 and then BW-Barbara Walters passed away on December 30, 2022 which led me to be believe BW-Bob William (Barker) would pass on December 29, 2023 but it turns out I was 4 months and 3 days off as he passed on August 26, 2023 so is there another celebrity BW that I’m not thinking of who will pass on December 29? Let’s hope not! And I jinxed it now by mentioning it anyway…Ooh, and I mentioned the whole thing about the Miss Teen USA 1st runner-ups either making top 3 at Miss USA or not placing so watch South Carolina place somewhere in the middle…

Bob Barker's final Miss Universe pageant was the 1987 Miss Universe pageant won by Chile's Cecilia Bolocco in Singapore.

Bob truly was the closest to 100 without going over so may the longest serving host of Miss USA and Miss Universe rest in peace.

Rest in peace, Robert (Bob) William Barker (December 12, 1923-August 26, 2023)

So as of September 15, Tom’s tentative top 5 for Miss USA 2023 are:
1. Nevada
2. North Carolina
3. Illinois
4. California
5. North Dakota

Will my top 5 change over the coming weeks or will they stay the same?
On September 22, I will post a second round of prethoughts with comments on each of the 51 delegates competing for Miss USA 2023 and then after observing the preliminaries on September 28, I will post my final predictions in the morning of September 29 and then later that night is when the new Miss USA is selected. Who will be the chosen one?

Watch Miss USA 2023 on September 29 on the CW at 5 p.m.(Pacific Standard Time)/8 p.m.(Eastern Standard Time)!




Some photos courtesy Miss Universe L.P., LLLP