Miss America Organization makes major changes: annual pageant changed to competition where contestants will not be judged on their looks

June 5, 2018

Miss America
Miss America 2018 contestants (Photo by Lou Rocco/ABC)

The following is a press release from the Miss America Organization and ABC:

The board of trustees of the Miss America Organization announced  groundbreaking changes for the “The 2019 Miss America Competition,” effective this September, by declaring that the 51 women representing their home states and the District of Columbia will no longer be judged on outward physical appearance. “The 2019 Miss America Competition” airs live on ABC, SUNDAY, SEPT. 9 (9:00–11:00 p.m. EDT), from Atlantic City’s historic Boardwalk Hall.

This change in format signals the end of the swimsuit portion of the competition. In its place, each candidate will participate in a live interactive session with the judges, where she will highlight her achievements and goals in life, and how she will use her talents, passion and ambition to perform the job of Miss America.

The former evening gown competition will now give participants the freedom to outwardly express their self-confidence in evening attire of their choosing while discussing how they will advance their social impact initiatives. Talent, which has always been a distinguishing element of Miss America, will remain a highlight of the competition.

“We are no longer a pageant. Miss America will represent a new generation of female leaders focused on scholarship, social impact, talent and empowerment,” said Gretchen Carlson, chair of the board of trustees. ”We’re experiencing a cultural revolution in our country with women finding the courage to stand up and have their voices heard on many issues. Miss America is proud to evolve as an organization and join this empowerment movement.”

The job of Miss America is a 365-day a year commitment of serving as an empowerment and leadership mentor. In addition to gaining scholarships to further her education, Miss America will advocate for social issues important to her. In addition to this work, Miss America also serves as an
ambassador for the Children’s Miracle Network and the city of Atlantic City, New Jersey.

“Miss America’s new mission statement is: ‘to prepare great women for the world and to prepare the world for great women,’” said Regina Hopper, president & CEO. “We want more young women to see this program as a platform upon which they can advance their desire to make a real difference and to provide them with the necessary skills and resources for them to succeed in any career path they choose.”

Tickets for “The 2019 Miss America Competition” are on sale this Friday, June 8, and can be purchased at ticketmaster.com.

About The Miss America Organization

The Miss America Organization, a 501(c) (4), is one of the most recognizable household names in America working to empower young women through education and service. The Miss America Organization is comprised of 51 licensed state organizations, including all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Miss America candidates contribute tens of thousands of community service hours annually and have raised over $17 million for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals and Miss America scholarships since
2007. The Miss America Foundation, a 501(c) (3), provides academic, community service, and other scholarships to young women.

2018 Miss USA: Miss Nebraska USA Sarah Rose Summers crowned the winner

May 22, 2018

Miss USA logo

Miss Nebraska USA Sarah Rose Summers
Miss Nebraska USA Sarah Rose Summers (center) is crowned Miss USA by Miss USA 2107 Kára McCollough at the 2018 MISS USA Competition at at George’s Pond, Hirsch Coliseum in Shreveport-Bossier, Louisiana, on May 21, 2018. (Photo by Jeff Neira/Fox)

The following is a press release from the Miss Universe Organization:

The Miss Universe Organization crowned Sarah Rose Summers as Miss USA 2018 on May 21 at George’s Pond, Hirsch Coliseum in ShreveportBossier, Louisiana. The event featured women representing all 50 states and the District of Columbia and aired live on FOX.

Sarah Rose Summers graduated cum laude from Texas Christian University and recently finished her clinical rotations to become a certified Child Life Specialist. Through her work, Sarah supports medical teams in educating families about the diagnoses, procedures and treatments their children are experiencing. Additionally, Sarah works with the National Eating Disorders Association and is passionate about supporting others in creating a healthy relationship with food and fitness.

Miss USA was chosen by a Selection Committee comprised of female entrepreneurs, business leaders, and industry experts – including former Miss USA contestants. This year’s committee included:

  • Jamie Kern Lima: Founder & CEO of IT Cosmetics, recently acquired by L’Oréal in its largest-ever acquisition, making Jamie the first female CEO in L’Oréal’s 100+ year history; named on Forbes Magazine’s 2017 Most Successful Self-Made Women List; Miss Washington USA 2000.
  • Crystle Stewart: Television host, model and actress; founder of MISS Academy (Manners, Image, Style, and Success), an organization committed to translating traditional values through pop culture; Miss USA 2008.
  • Lilliana Vazquez: Emmy® Award-winning host and producer, “Today” show contributor and style expert.
  • Denise White: Founder and CEO of EAG Sports Management, one of the most powerful and influential sports management and PR/crisis management firms of professional sports; Miss Oregon USA 1994.
  • Natasha Curry: Award-winning television host and news anchor; Miss Washington USA 1998.
  • Paula M. Shugart: president of  The Miss Universe Organization

Contestants competed in Swimsuit, Evening Gown, Final Question, Final Word and Final Look.  And in a first for Miss USA, the Top 5 finalists wrote each of the Final Questions. The evening was hosted by Vanessa and Nick Lachey with competition insight from Carson Kressley and Lu Sierra.  98° and Lee Brice performed.

Final Results:   

First Runner-Up: Miss North Carolina USA Caelynn Miller-Keyes

Second Runner-Up: Miss Nevada USA Carolina Urrea

Top Three: Miss Nebraska USA Sarah Rose Summers; Miss North Carolina USA Caelynn Miller-Keyes; Miss Nevada USA Carolina Urrea

Top Five:  Miss Nevada USA Carolina Urrea; Miss Florida USA Génesis Dávila; Miss Nebraska USA Sarah Rose Summers; Miss North Carolina USA Caelynn Miller-Keyes; Miss South Dakota USA Madison Nipe

Top Ten: Miss California USA Kelley Johnson; Miss Maine USA Marina Gray; Miss  Tennessee USA Alexandra Harper; Miss New Jersey Alexa Noone; Miss Nebraska USA Sarah Rose Summers; Miss North Carolina USA Caelynn Miller-Keyes; Miss Georgia USA Marianny Egurrola; Miss South Dakota USA Madison Nipe; Miss Nevada USA Carolina Urrea; Miss Florida USA Génesis Dávila

Top Fifteen: Miss South Dakota USA Madison Nipe; Miss Georgia USA Marianny Egurrola; Miss Maine USA Marina Gray; Miss Texas USA Logan Lester; Miss New Jersey USA Alexa Noone; Miss Nebraska USA Sarah Rose Summers; Miss Florida USA Génesis Dávila; Miss Nevada USA Carolina Urrea; Miss Massachusetts USA Alissa Latham; Miss Maryland USA Brittany Nicolette;  Miss  Tennessee USA Alexandra Harper;  Miss Oregon USA Toneata Morgan; Miss North Carolina USA Caelynn Miller-Keyes; Miss Michigan USA Elizabeth Johnson; Miss California USA Kelley Johnson.

Sarah will reside in New York City while she fulfills her duties as Miss USA for the year. In addition to an apartment in Manhattan, a salary, and personal and professional opportunities, Sarah will also receive a new Alfa Romeo Stelvio Ti Sport.

The Miss Universe Organization
The Miss Universe Organization (MUO) is a global community that empowers women to realize their goals through experiences that build self-confidence and create opportunities for success.  MUO believes that every woman should be “Confidently Beautiful.” MISS UNIVERSE®, MISS USA®, and MISS TEEN USA® programs provide the 10,000 women who participate annually an international platform to affect positive change through influential humanitarian and professional efforts. The contestants and titleholders are leaders and role models in their communities, develop personal and professional goals, and inspire others to do the same. The Miss Universe Organization is an Endeavor company. To learn more, visit www.missuniverse.com.

Find MISS USA® on Facebook and YouTube, and follow on Twitter and Instagram.

About Endeavor
Endeavor (formerly WME | IMG) is a global leader in sports, entertainment and fashion operating in more than 30 countries. Named one of Fortune’s 25 Most Important Private Companies, Endeavor is comprised of a number of industry-leading companies including WME, IMG and UFC. The Endeavor network specializes in talent representation and management; brand marketing, sponsorship and licensing; media sales and distribution; event operation and management; and sports training and league development.




Miss America shakeup: Gretchen Carlson becomes board chair after several execs are ousted for sexually demeaning emails

January 2, 2018

by Colleen McGregor

Sam Haskell (far left) and Miss America 2018 Cara Mund (far right) at a Miss America press conference in Atlantic City, New Jersey,  in September 2017. (Photo by Lou Rocco/ABC)

Gretchen Carlson, who was crowned Miss America 1989, has taken the reigns of the Miss America Organization by being named chair of the board. The announcement comes two weeks after a HuffPost article broke the news that several high-ranking Miss America executives made derogatory comments about former Miss America winners and contestants in email exchanges dating back to 2014 and beyond. As a result, 47 former Miss Americas called for the offending parties to be fired, and the following people have been ousted from the Miss America Organization (MAO):  Sam Haskell (who was CEO), Josh Randle (president), Lewis Friedman (who was lead writer for the Miss America telecast), Lynn Weidner (board chair) and Tammy Haddad (board member).  Dick Clark Productions, which produced the Miss America telecast on ABC, cut ties with MAO after the board initially failed to reprimand the offending parties.

Gretchen Carlson
Gretchen Carlson (Photo by Lou Rocco/ABC)

Among the more derogatory comments in the mails: Friedman described former Miss Americas collectively as “cunts,” in an email exchange with Haskell, who laughed in response to the obscene insult. In an another email to Haskell, Friedman commented on the death of Miss America 1959 Mary Ann Mobley, and said that Miss America 1998 Kate Shindle (who was a vocal critic of Haskell) should have been the one to die. Haskell also expressed amusement at this comment.

Some of the people who were ousted from MAO also made derogatory comments about Miss America 2013 Mallory Hagan after she gained weight. Haskell also spread gossip about Hagan’s sex life and seemingly went out of his way to damage her career. According to emails published by HuffPost, Haskell was apparently very angry that Brent Adams, a high-ranking MAO employee at the time, chose to date Hagan instead of Haskell’s daughter.

Carlson, a former Fox News anchor, famously sued the network and its then-chairman/CEO Roger Ailes in 2016 for sexual harassment. The lawsuit, which was settled out of court, resulted in dozens of women coming forward with stories about Ailes sexually harassing them, and Ailes resigned/was ousted from Fox News in 2016. (Ailes died of complications from a head injury in 2017.)

Carlson was also a target of Haskell’s and Haddad’s wrath in several emails. After Shindle wrote a book that criticized Haskell and some aspects of MAO, Carlson refused Haskell’s demand to have Shindle banned from Carlson’s Fox News show. Carlson is the first former Miss America to become chair of the MAO board. Also joining the board as part of the shakeup are former Miss America winners Shindle, Laura Kaeppeler (2012) and Heather French Henry (2000).

Miss America 2018 contestants in Atlantic City, New Jersey, in September 2017.
(Photo by Lou Rocco/ABC)

The Miss America Pageant, which awards scholarship money, has had its share of ups and downs since it began in 1921. The show’s telecast is not the powerhouse that it was before the 1980s. In the 2000s, the show’s ratings fell to its lowest points, and ABC dropped the pageant in 2004. From 2005 to 2010, the Miss America telecast bounced around on cable networks such as CMT and TLC before returning to ABC in 2011.  Over the decades, the show’s locations also changed from longtime site Atlantic City, New Jersey, to Las Vegas (from 2005 to 2013), and then back to Atlantic City in 2014. In 2014, a deal with Dick Clark Productions helped bring the Miss America pageant telecast back to a certain level of prestige, although the Miss America pageant (with competition from the Miss USA pageant) is not considered as important as it was in decades past. It has not yet been announced if Dick Clark Productions will go back to working with MAO now that these sweeping changes to MAO’s board have been made.

2017 Miss USA: Kára McCollough crowned winner; second year in a row that Miss D.C. has won Miss USA

May 14, 2017

by Estelle Marine

Miss USA logo

Miss District of Colombia Kára McCullough wins the 2017 Miss USA competition at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas on, May 14, 2017.
Miss District of Colombia Kára McCullough wins the 2017 Miss USA competition at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas on, May 14, 2017. (Photo by Vince Bucci/Fox)

Kára McCollough, a 25-year-old scientist at the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission, was crowned the winner of Miss USA 2017 in a ceremony held on May 14 at Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas. McCollough’s victory makes it the second year in a row that Miss District of Columbia has won the Miss USA title. McCollough replaces 2016 Miss USA Deshauna Barber.

Coming in second place in the Miss USA 2017 competition was Chhavi Verg, Miss New Jersey. Third place went to Meredith Gould, Miss Minnesota.

Fox had the U.S. telecast of the show, which was hosted by Terrence J and Julianne Hough. Ashley Graham served as backstage host.

The judges were TV personality Carson Kressley, “The Real” co-host Jeannie Mai,  former Miss Minnesota contestant Halima Aden, transgender activist/author Janet Mock, Crisis Text Line founder Nancy Lublin and Miss Universe 1997 Brooke Lee. Rap artist Pitbull featuring Stephen “Skip” Marley and country singer Brett Aldredge were the event’s musical performers.

It was clear that McCollough was one of the early frontrunners, since she was prominently featured in promo videos for the pageant. During the telecast, the announcer also mentioned that she was considered one of the smartest USA contestants to be in the pageant. McCollough mentioned several times in interviews and on stage that one of her main goals was to encourage more female participation in science.

In the question portion of the pageant, McCollough was asked, “Do you think affordable health care for all U.S. citizens is a right or a privilege and why?” She answered that it was a privilege. “As a government employee, I am granted healthcare.  And I see firsthand that for one to have healthcare, you need to have jobs. So therefore, we we need to continue cultivate this environment that we’re given the opportunity to have jobs as well as healthcare for all American citizens worldwide.”

Top 10 Miss USA 2017 Contestants

Kára McCollough, Miss District of Columbia USA (winner)

Chhavi Verg, Miss New Jersey USA (second place)

Meridith Gould, Miss Minnesota USA (third place)

Whitney Wandland, Miss Illinois USA (Top 5 contestant)

Megan Gordon, Miss South Carolina USA (Top 5 contestant)

Allee-­Sutton Hethcoat, Miss Tennessee USA

Hannah Lopa, Miss New York USA

India Williams, Miss California USA

Alyssa London, Miss Alaska USA

Bayleigh Dayton, Miss Missouri USA






Miss France 2016 Iris Mittenaere named winner of Miss Universe pageant

January 30, 2017

by Jackie Green

Iris Mittenaere, Miss Universe 2017
Iris Mittenaere (Photo courtesy of Fox)

Iris Mittenaere, Miss France 2016, was crowned Miss Universe at the 65th Miss Universe pageant, which was held at Mall of Asia Arena in the Philippines on January 29, 2017. Fox had the U.S. telecast of the show, which was once again hosted by Steve Harvey. Model/activist Ashley Graham served as backstage host.  Flo Rida and and Boyz II Men performed at the event.

The first runner-up was Raquel Pelissier from Haiti. The second runner-up was Andrea Tovar from Colombia. The remaining  contestants in the top six were Mary Esther Were from Kenya; Maxine Medina from the Philippines ;  and Chalita Suansane from Thailand.

The judges who helped crown Miss Universe included:

  • Cynthia Bailey: Former model and founder of The Bailey Agency School of Fashion, a modeling and fashion school dedicated to helping young women achieve their dreams; current cast member on “The Real Housewives of Atlanta.”
  • Mickey Boardman: Editorial Director and advice columnist for Paper magazine.
  • Leila Lopes: First Miss Universe from Angola and former United Nations Goodwill Ambassador for Desertification; currently working with various charitable organizations in Africa.
  • Francine LeFrak: Emmy and Tony Award-winning producer, social entrepreneur, women’s empowerment activist and founder of Same Sky, an initiative that provides training and employment to HIV+ women survivors of the Rwandan genocide.
  • Sushmita Sen: Bollywood actress, philanthropist and champion of women’s rights in India; founder of I AM Foundation; and first-ever Miss Universe from India.
  • Dayanara Torres: Former UNICEF ambassador, writer, singer, model, actress and former Miss Universe from Puerto Rico.

Here are some photo highlights of the pageant on stage and behind the scenes.

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