Miss USA

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Miss USA
Miss USA.png
Logo of the Miss USA Organization.
TypeBeauty Pageant
HeadquartersNew York City
MembershipMiss Universe
PresidentPaula Shugart
Key peopleDonald Trump
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Miss USA
Miss USA.png
Logo of the Miss USA Organization.
TypeBeauty Pageant
HeadquartersNew York City
MembershipMiss Universe
PresidentPaula Shugart
Key peopleDonald Trump

The Miss USA beauty pageant has been held annually since 1952 to select the United States entrant in the Miss Universe pageant. The Miss Universe Organization operates both pageants, as well as Miss Teen USA. The pageant is broadcast on NBC and (starting 2013) on Xbox Live. The current Miss USA is Nia Sanchez of Nevada.


The Miss USA pageant was conceived in 1950 when Yolande Betbeze, winner of the rival Miss America pageant, refused to pose for publicity pictures while wearing a swimsuit. Pageant sponsor Catalina decided to pull their sponsorship off the pageant and create their own competition.[1] Other owners have included a subsidiary of Gulf+Western Industries, ITT Corporation, and billionaire Donald Trump, the current owner who bought the pageant in 1996.[2][3]

The first Miss USA and Miss Universe pageants were held concurrently in Long Beach, California in 1952; the first Miss USA winner was Miss New York USA Jackie Loughery.[4] There were thirty delegates in the first year of competition, and many states did not compete every year during the first two decades of the pageant's history. From the 1970s, each state and the District of Columbia have sent a delegate each year. Alaska first competed in 1959 and Hawaii in 1960. Both had competed at Miss Universe until this time.

The pageant aired on CBS from 1963 until 2002, and for many years was known for having a CBS game show host as pageant host. John Charles Daly hosted the show from 1963–1966, Bob Barker from 1967 until 1987 (at which point he quit in a dispute over fur coats), Alan Thicke in 1988, Dick Clark from 1989-1993, and Bob Goen from 1994–1996. The show's highest ratings were in the early 1980s, when it regularly topped the Neilsen ratings.[5][6][7] Viewership dropped sharply from the 1990s to the 2000s, from an estimated viewership of 20 million to an average of 7 million from 2000–2001.[8] In 2002, owner Donald Trump brokered a new deal with NBC, giving them half-ownership of the Miss USA, Miss Universe and Miss Teen USA and moving them to NBC on an initial five-year contract.[9] The pageants were first shown on NBC in 2003.

Historically, the winner of the Miss USA title represented the U.S. in its sister pageant Miss Universe. Since its inception, eight Miss USA titleholders have gone on to win Miss Universe. In the mid-1960s, the organization established a rule that when a Miss USA wins the Miss Universe title, the first runner-up assumes the Miss USA title for the remainder of the year. This occurred in 1980, 1995,1997, and 2012.[10][11] In 1967, the first runner-up Susan Bradley of California declined the title and the crown went to the second runner-up Cheryl Patton of Florida. The only instance when a first runner-up assumed the title of Miss USA prior to this period was in 1957, when Mary Leona Gage of Maryland resigned after it was discovered she was married.[12]


The modern pageant consists of a preliminary competition held a week before the pageant when all contestants are judged in swimsuit, gown, and interview competitions.[13] From this, semifinalists are chosen, and they are announced during the live broadcast of the final competition. These semifinalists then compete in swimsuit and evening gown, and the finalists are chosen. These finalists then proceed to the final question portion of the competition. The runners-up and winner are announced at the end of the telecast. Since 1997, different panels of judges have officiated the finals and the Preliminary competition.[citation needed]

From 1975–2000, all delegates who made the initial cut competed in an interview competition in some format, often involving all semi-finalists. As of 2001, this interview portion was taken away, leaving only the final question for the top five delegates to answer.[citation needed]

From 1979–2002, the average scores of each delegate were shown on the television broadcast; thus the semi-finalists could be ranked. This was changed in 2003 to a "circle" system, wherein judges choose a certain number of delegates to "circle", and those with the most "circles" make the cut. This system was used prior to the computer scoring system implemented in 1979. In 2007, the circle system was reinstated and contestants' composite scores were shown live.[citation needed]

State competitions[edit]

Every year, each state holds a preliminary competition to choose their delegate for the Miss USA pageant. In some states (such as Texas and Florida), local pageants are also held to determine delegates for the state competition. The state winners hold the title "Miss State USA" for the year of their reign.

The most successful state is Texas, which has had the most semi-finalists and winners, including five consecutive Miss USA titleholders during the 1980s.[14] Other successful states include California, New York, Alabama, Tennessee and Georgia. The least successful states are Delaware, the only state that has never placed; Montana, which has not placed since the 1950s; South Dakota, which has only placed twice (the last time in 1974), and Wyoming, which gained only its second placement in 2010. The only state which has produced more than one Miss Universe is South Carolina.

The Miss Universe Organization licenses out the state pageants to pageant directors, who in some cases are responsible for more than one state. The most well established directorial groups are RPM Productions, created in 1980 (Alabama, Louisiana, North Carolina, South Carolina), and Vanbros, created in the early 1990s (Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska and Oklahoma). Future Productions direct the most states, seven, across the Midwest and Rockies.


The first Asian American woman to win Miss USA was Macel Wilson of Hawaii in 1962; the first Latina was Laura Martinez-Herring of Texas in 1985; the first Black, Carole Gist of Michigan in 1990;[15] and the first Miss USA of Middle-Eastern descent was Rima Fakih of Michigan in 2010.[16]

Brandi Sherwood of Idaho is the only woman to have held both the Miss Teen USA and Miss USA titles. She was Miss Idaho Teen USA, Miss Teen USA 1989, Miss Idaho USA 1997, first runner-up at Miss USA 1997 and in May 1997 assumed the Miss USA title after Brook Lee of Hawaii won the Miss Universe pageant.[11] Nine other Miss USA titleholders have also previously competed at Miss Teen USA. These include:

Shanna Moakler (1995), (Miss Rhode Island Teen USA 1992), Ali Landry (1996), (Miss Louisiana Teen USA 1990), Kimberly Pressler (1999) (Miss New York Teen USA 1994), Lynnette Cole (2000) (Miss Tennessee Teen USA 1995), Susie Castillo (2003) (Miss Massachusetts Teen USA 1998), Chelsea Cooley (2005) (Miss North Carolina Teen USA 2000), Tara Conner (2006) (Miss Kentucky Teen USA 2002), Rachel Smith (2007) (Miss Tennessee Teen USA 2002), Alyssa Campanella (2011) (Miss New Jersey Teen USA 2007).

Five Miss USA titleholders have also competed at Miss America. These included: (Miriam Stevenson, Carlene King Johnson and Carol Morris) (1954–1956), Mai Shanley (1984) and Shandi Finnessey (2004). Shandi Finnessey, Miss USA 2004 and Miss Missouri 2002 won a preliminary evening gown award at Miss America 2003. Also, Miriam Stevenson placed in the top 10 at Miss America 1954 as Miss South Carolina 1953.

Many Miss USA winners have gone to pursue careers in the entertainment industry. Those who have been successful in the industry include Summer Bartholomew, Deborah Shelton, Laura Martinez-Herring, Kelli McCarty, Shanna Moakler, Frances Parker, Ali Landry, Kenya Moore, Brandi Sherwood, Kimberly Pressler, Susie Castillo, Shandi Finnessey and Rachel Smith.

Recent titleholders[edit]

YearMiss USAState RepresentedHost CityPlacement at Miss Universe
2015TBDTBDNassau, BahamasTBD
2014Nia SanchezNevada NevadaBaton Rouge, LouisianaTBD
2013Erin BradyConnecticut ConnecticutLas Vegas, NevadaTop 10
2012Nana MeriwetherMaryland MarylandLas Vegas, NevadaSucceeded Olivia Culpo as Miss USA
Olivia CulpoRhode Island Rhode IslandMiss Universe 2012
2011Alyssa CampanellaCalifornia CaliforniaLas Vegas, NevadaTop 16
2010Rima FakihMichigan MichiganLas Vegas, NevadaNon Finalist
2009Kristen DaltonNorth Carolina North CarolinaLas Vegas, NevadaTop 10
2008Crystle StewartTexas TexasLas Vegas, NevadaTop 10
2007Rachel SmithTennessee TennesseeHollywood, California4th Runner-Up
2006Tara ConnerKentucky KentuckyBaltimore, Maryland4th Runner-Up
2005Chelsea CooleyNorth Carolina North CarolinaBaltimore, MarylandTop 10
2004Shandi FinnesseyMissouri MissouriHollywood, California1st Runner-Up
2003Susie CastilloMassachusetts MassachusettsSan Antonio, TexasTop 15
2002Shauntay HintonWashington, D.C. District of ColumbiaGary, IndianaNon Finalist
2001Kandace KruegerTexas TexasGary, Indiana2nd Runner-Up
2000Lynnette ColeTennessee TennesseeBranson, MissouriTop 5

Winners' gallery[edit]

By number of wins[edit]

Miss USA winners by state up to 2014 (Includes dethroned winners and those who have inherited the title.)
StateTitlesWinning Years
 Texas91977, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1995,[1] 2001, 2008
 California61959, 1966, 1975, 1983, 1992, 2011
 New York41952, 1979, 1995,[2] 1999
 Hawaii1962, 1972, 1978, 1997[1]
 Illinois1953, 1963, 1973, 1974
 Michigan31990, 1993, 2010
 Louisiana1958, 1961, 1996
 South Carolina1954,[1] 1980,[1] 1994
 Maryland21957, 2012[2]
 North Carolina2005, 2009
 Tennessee2000, 2007
 Massachusetts1998, 2003
 District of Columbia1964, 2002
 Ohio1965, 1981
 Virginia1969, 1970
 Utah1957, [3] 1960[1]
 Rhode Island2012 [1]
 New Mexico1984

1 Won the Miss Universe Title

2 Since 1961, the first runner-up takes over the Miss USA title if the reigning Miss USA wins Miss Universe. There was an exception in 1967, when the first-runner up refused the crown and the second runner-up became Miss USA.

3 Replaced the dethroned Miss USA

Top 16 states by tally[edit]

See Miss USA state rankings
RankCountryMiss USA1st Runner-Up2nd Runner-Up3rd Runner-Up4th Runner-Up5th Runner-UpSemifinalistsTotal
1 Texas9522203151
2 California6736302045
3 New York4311102333
4 Illinois4033101627
5 Hawaii4010101521
6 South Carolina3531112034
7 Louisiana3114101424
8 Michigan88101001924
9 Tennessee2242201931
10 Virginia2210101420
11 District of Columbia2200101318
12 Ohio2112201119
13 Maryland2100101519
14 Massachusetts2100001013
15 North Carolina203110916
16 Utah2013101421


See Miss USA Special Awards

The awards most frequently presented at Miss USA are Miss Amity and Miss Photogenic.

The Miss Amity Award is chosen by the delegates, and recognizes those who are the friendliest and make the pageant experience the most enjoyable. In 1952 to 1964 when the Miss USA and Miss Universe pageants were concurrent events, the Miss Congeniality Award could be won by a contestant competing either for Miss USA or Miss Universe. In fact, in 1960, there was a tie, with the award going to Miss Burma Myint Myint May and Miss Louisiana USA Rebecca Fletcher. Vermont has won five Miss Amity awards, two more than any other state.

The Miss Photogenic prize was first awarded in 1965 and was chosen by journalists until 1996 when it was chosen by an internet vote for the first time. There has been only one tie in this award's history: in 1980 when it was shared between Jineane Ford of Arizona and Elizabeth Kim Thomas of Ohio. The state that has won the most Photogenic awards is Virginia.

Other awards that have been presented include Best State Costume (1962–1993), Style (1995–2001) and Most Beautiful Eyes (1993). In 1998, a special Distinguished Achievement award was given to Halle Berry.[17] Berry was Miss Ohio USA 1986 and placed 1st runner-up to Christy Fichtner of Texas. She later went on to become an acclaimed actress and Oscar winner.


In the first eight years of competition (1952–1959) the Miss USA pageant was held in Long Beach, California. The competition moved to Miami Beach, Florida in 1960 and stayed there until 1971. In 1972 the pageant was held in Puerto Rico, the only time the pageant has been held outside the continental United States. That pageant was rocked by an explosion at the host hotel.[18]

From 1972 onwards the pageant has been held in various locations, generally being held in each location for two to three years.

As of 2014 the pageant has been held in the following states:

Alabama (Mobile 1989), California, (Long Beach 1952–1959, Los Angeles 2004, 2007), Florida (Miami Beach 1960–1971, Lakeland 1984–1985, Miami 1986), Indiana (Gary 2001–2002), Kansas (Wichita 1990–1993), Louisiana (Shreveport 1997–1998 and Baton Rouge 2014), Maryland (Baltimore 2005–2006), Missouri (Branson 1999–2000), Mississippi (Biloxi 1979–1982), Nevada (Las Vegas 2008-2013), New Mexico (Albuquerque 1987), New York (New York City 1973, Niagara Falls 1974–1976), South Carolina (Charleston 1977–1978), Tennessee (Knoxville 1983), Texas (El Paso 1988, South Padre Island 1994–1996, San Antonio 2003).

Special feature episodes[edit]

Since 2003, a number of delegates have been involved in special episodes of regular programs broadcast by NBC. From 2003–2005, six delegates each year were chosen to participate in a special Miss USA edition of Fear Factor, with the victorious contestant taking the title "Miss Fear Factor USA" and a prize of $50,000 ($25,000 of which was to be donated to a charity of the winner's choice). These were broadcast immediately prior to the live pageant broadcast.

In 2006, Chelsea Cooley and twenty-six delegates participated as briefcase models in a Miss USA special of Deal or No Deal.

In 2010, ten Miss USA and Miss Universe winners competed for charity on a special "Last Beauty Standing" edition of Minute to Win It.

Reality television[edit]

Many Miss USA and Miss Teen USA delegates have participated in reality television shows and other television game shows. Well known delegates who later competed in reality shows are Danni Boatwright, winner of Survivor: Guatemala, Nicole O'Brian and Christie Lee Woods of The Amazing Race 5, Shandi Finnessey and Shanna Moakler on Dancing With The Stars Jennifer Murphy of The Apprentice 4 and Tori Fiorenza of The Challenge: Cutthroat.[19]

In 2007 Pageant Place, a reality television show featuring Rachel Smith, Riyo Mori, Hilary Cruz, Katie Blair and Tara Conner aired on MTV.[20]

On June 19, 2011, Bravo Television's Andy Cohen co-hosted the event's 60th anniversary live in Las Vegas with E! News and Fashion Police's Giuliana Rancic.[21] They also hosted the 2012 pageant.[22]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Deam, Jenny (2005-10-11). "There she goes...Miss America Once queen of the airwaves, beauty pageant is left homeless". Denver Post. p. F01. 
  2. ^ "Gulf+Western Industries announces reorganization plan". PR Newswire. 1985-03-12. 
  3. ^ Associated Press (1996-10-24). "Trump buys Miss Universe, two other beauty pageants". The Globe and Mail. p. B14. 
  4. ^ Colon, Marisa (1999-05-28). "Long Beach, Calif., Consultant Coaches Beauty Contestants". Press-Telegram. 
  5. ^ Associated Press (1980-05-21). "U.S. pulchritude tops TV charts". The Globe and Mail. p. P15. 
  6. ^ Associated Press (1982-05-19). "Pageant tops Nielsen ratings". The Globe and Mail. p. P15. 
  7. ^ Associated Press (1983-05-18). "Beauty pageant most-watched show". The Globe and Mail. p. P15. 
  8. ^ de Moraes, Lisa (2002-06-22). "There She Goes: Pageants Move to NBC". Washington Post. 
  9. ^ "Trump moves pageants from CBS to NBC". St. Petersburg Times. 2002-06-22. p. 2B. 
  10. ^ Froelich, Janis (1989-10-27). "News anchor shuns beauty queen past". St. Petersburg Times. p. 1D. 
  11. ^ a b "USA Sherwood". Associated Press. 1997-05-18. 
  12. ^ de Moraes, Lisa (2007-06-21). "Are Trump's Beauties at Home With the Camera? They'll Have to Be". Washington Post. p. C07. 
  13. ^ "Beauty business – as usual;Miss USA contest fights the blemishes". USA Today. 1988-03-01. p. 01D. 
  14. ^ Associated press (1991-03-27). "Pair who groomed beauty queens fired as Miss Texas USA directors". The Dallas Morning News. p. 29A. 
  15. ^ "'Royalty' Happy Overseas". Albuquerque Journal. 2001-05-16. p. D2. 
  16. ^ Knowles, David (2010-05-17). "Rima Fakih, First Muslim Miss USA - David Knowles - Paradigms Lost". True/Slant. Retrieved 2012-11-06. 
  17. ^ "Shawnae Jebbia of Massachusetts Crowned "Miss USA 1998"". Business Wire. 2007-03-11. 
  18. ^ "Explosion of undetermined cause rocks site of Miss USA pageant". New York Times Abstracts. 1972-05-21. p. 35. 
  19. ^ "Tori Hall Fiorenza Real World Challenge pictures, bio, dating". Poptower.com. 1986-12-20. Retrieved 2012-11-06. 
  20. ^ Lee, Felicia (2007-10-10). "Three Crowns Sharing One Apartment". The New York Times. 
  21. ^ "Andy Cohen on Hosting the Miss USA Pageant: I Want to Bring Out the Competition - Today's News: Our Take". TVGuide.com. 2011-06-17. Retrieved 2012-11-06. 
  22. ^ "Miss USA 2012: Olivia Culpo Crowned, Beats Latina Beauties | Fox News Latino". Latino.foxnews.com. 2012-06-04. Retrieved 2012-11-06. 

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