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Miss USA

Miss USA
Miss USA Logo.png
FormationJune 27, 1952; 67 years ago (1952-06-27)
TypeBeauty pageant
HeadquartersNew York City
Miss Universe
Official language
Paula Shugart
Parent organization

Miss USA is an American beauty pageant that has been held annually since 1952 to select the entrant from United States in the Miss Universe pageant. The Miss Universe Organization operates both pageants, as well as Miss Teen USA.

The pageant was owned by Donald Trump from 1996 to 2015 and was previously broadcast on NBC. In September 2015, WME/IMG purchased the pageant from Trump.[1] Currently, Fox holds the broadcast rights for the pageant.

The current Miss USA is Cheslie Kryst of North Carolina who was crowned on May 2, 2019 at Grand Sierra Resort in Reno, Nevada.


The Miss USA pageant was conceived in 1950 when Yolande Betbeze, winner of the 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.[2] Other owners have included a subsidiary of Gulf+Western Industries, ITT Corporation, and Donald Trump.[3][4]

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.[5] 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 (he was not a regular for the CBS network until 1972 when he became host of The Price Is Right which he hosted until 2007) until 1987 (at which point he quit in a dispute over fur coats), Alan Thicke in 1988, Dick Clark from 1989 to 1993, and Bob Goen from 1994 to 1996. The show's highest ratings were in the early 1980s, when it regularly topped the Nielsen ratings.[6][7][8] 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.[9] 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.[10] 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.[11][12] 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.[13]

The winner is assigned a one-year contract with the Miss Universe Organization, traveling across the United States, and in some cases overseas, to spread messages about their chosen causes. Aside from the job, the winner also receives a cash allowance for her entire reign, a modelling portfolio, beauty products, clothes, shoes, as well as styling, healthcare, and fitness services by different sponsors of the pageant. She also gains exclusive access to events such as fashion shows and opening galas, as well as access to casting calls and modeling opportunities throughout New York City. When Donald Trump owned the pageant, the winner was given the use of a Trump Place apartment in New York City during her reign, which she shared with the Miss Universe and Miss Teen USA titleholders. If the winner, for any reason, cannot fulfill her duties as Miss USA, including if she wins the title of Miss Universe, the 1st runner-up takes over.

In late-June 2015, both NBC and Spanish-language network Univision (which was to begin a new five-year contract for Spanish rights) announced that they would cut their ties with Donald Trump and the Miss Universe Organization in response to remarks Trump made relating to undocumented immigrants during the launch of his 2016 U.S. presidential campaign. Trump threatened to sue both companies over the decision; on June 30, 2015, Trump sued Univision for defamation and breach of contract.[14][15] In February 2016, Donald Trump and Univision reached a settlement ending the litigation. The terms of the settlement remain confidential, but included an agreement for Trump to buy back NBCUniversal's stake in the MUO.[16][17]

After losing its television partners, it was announced that Miss USA 2015 would be streamed on the pageant's website. Shortly before the pageant, Reelz Channel announced that it would broadcast Miss USA 2015.[18][19]

In September 2015, IMG bought the Miss Universe Organization for an undisclosed amount. The company had previously been involved in licensing and production for the events. The following month, Fox announced that it had acquired the U.S. television rights to Miss USA and Miss Universe beginning with Miss Universe 2015.[20][17]


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.[21]

State competitions

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.[22] Other successful states include California, New York, Alabama, Tennessee, and Georgia. The least successful states are Delaware, placing only once in 2015; Montana, which has not placed since the 1950s; South Dakota, which has only placed four times (the last time in 2018), 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 directorial groups are the following:

California and Florida become vacant as they seek with new directorship in the future.


The oldest woman to win Miss USA is Miss USA 2019, Cheslie Kryst of North Carolina, at 28 years old and 4 days. Miss USA 2015, Olivia Jordan, of Oklahoma is the only Miss USA winner to compete in two major international pageants: Miss Universe and Miss World. The tallest Miss USA is Miss USA 2012, Nana Meriwether, of Maryland at 6 feet and 1 inch (185 cm).

The first Asian-American woman to win Miss USA was Macel Wilson of Hawaii in 1962; the first Hispanic woman was Laura Martinez-Herring of Texas in 1985; the first African-American, Carole Gist of Michigan in 1990;[23] and the first Muslim Miss USA was Rima Fakih of Michigan in 2010.[24]

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.[12] Ten other Miss USA titleholders have also previously competed at Miss Teen USA. These include:

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, Rachel Smith, and Crystle Stewart.

Recent titleholders

Year Miss USA State Host city Placement at Miss Universe
2019 Cheslie Kryst North Carolina North Carolina Reno, Nevada TBA
2018 Sarah Rose Summers Nebraska Nebraska Shreveport, Louisiana Top 20
2017 Kára McCullough Washington, D.C. District of Columbia Las Vegas, Nevada Top 10
2016 Deshauna Barber Washington, D.C. District of Columbia Las Vegas, Nevada Top 9
2015 Olivia Jordan Oklahoma Oklahoma Baton Rouge, Louisiana 2nd Runner-Up

Winners' gallery


The awards most frequently presented at Miss USA are Miss Amity (also known as Miss Congeniality) 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. From 1952 to 1964, when the Miss USA and Miss Universe pageants were concurrent events, the 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 Universe Burma, Myint Myint May, and Miss Louisiana USA, Rebecca Fletcher. In 2015, Alaska and Delaware tied for the Miss Congeniality award. Vermont and Wyoming have won five Miss Amity/Congeniality 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.

Louisiana won both the first Miss Amity and Photogenic awards given to a Miss USA contestant.

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.[25] 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.[26]

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

As of 2019, the pageant has been held in the following states:

Special feature episodes

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

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, Christie Lee Woods of The Amazing Race 5 and The Amazing Race 31 and Nicole O'Brian also of The Amazing Race 5, Shandi Finnessey and Shanna Moakler on Dancing with the Stars, Jennifer Murphy of The Apprentice 4, Tori Fiorenza of The Challenge: Cutthroat, Hannah Brown of The Bachelor and The Bachelorette and Caelynn Miller-Keyes also of The Bachelor.[27]

In 2007, Pageant Place, a reality television show featuring Rachel Smith, Riyo Mori, Hilary Cruz, Katie Blair, and Tara Conner aired on MTV.[28]

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.[29] They also hosted the 2012 pageant.[30]

See also


  1. ^ "WME-IMG ACQUIRES THE MISS UNIVERSE ORGANIZATION". Miss Universe. September 14, 2015. Retrieved April 6, 2016.
  2. ^ Deam, Jenny (2005-10-11). "There she goes...Miss America Once queen of the airwaves, beauty pageant is left homeless". Denver Post. p. F01.
  3. ^ "Gulf+Western Industries announces reorganization plan". PR Newswire. 1985-03-12.
  4. ^ Associated Press (1996-10-24). "Trump buys Miss Universe, two other beauty pageants". The Globe and Mail. p. B14.
  5. ^ Colon, Marisa (1999-05-28). "Long Beach, Calif., Consultant Coaches Beauty Contestants". Press-Telegram.
  6. ^ Associated Press (1980-05-21). "U.S. pulchritude tops TV charts". The Globe and Mail. p. P15.
  7. ^ Associated Press (1982-05-19). "Pageant tops Nielsen ratings". The Globe and Mail. p. P15.
  8. ^ Associated Press (1983-05-18). "Beauty pageant most-watched show". The Globe and Mail. p. P15.
  9. ^ de Moraes, Lisa (2002-06-22). "There She Goes: Pageants Move to NBC". The Washington Post.
  10. ^ "Trump moves pageants from CBS to NBC". St. Petersburg Times. 2002-06-22. p. 2B.
  11. ^ Froelich, Janis (1989-10-27). "News anchor shuns beauty queen past". St. Petersburg Times. p. 1D.
  12. ^ a b "USA Sherwood". Associated Press. 1997-05-18.
  13. ^ de Moraes, Lisa (2007-06-21). "Are Trump's Beauties at Home With the Camera? They'll Have to Be". Washington Post. p. C07.
  14. ^ "NBC: Done With Donald Trump, Miss USA, Miss Universe – Update". Deadline. 2015-06-29. Retrieved 1 July 2015.
  15. ^ "Donald Trump Hits Univision With $500M Miss USA Lawsuit, Network Calls It "Ridiculous" – Update". Deadline. 2015-06-30. Retrieved 1 July 2015.
  16. ^ "Donald Trump & Univision Reach Settlement Surrounding Miss USA Pageant". E! Online. 2016-02-11. Retrieved 2016-03-03.
  17. ^ a b "WME/IMG Acquires Miss Universe Organization From Donald Trump". 2015-09-14. Retrieved 17 October 2016.
  18. ^ Busis, Hillary. "Miss USA will air on TV after all". Mashable. Retrieved 2017-10-30.
  19. ^ "Miss USA To Be Streamed After NBC And Pageant Co-Hosts Bail". Deadline. 2015-06-30. Retrieved 1 July 2015.
  20. ^ Kissell, Rick (2015-10-28). "Miss Universe Pageant Moving to Fox in December". Variety. Retrieved 2017-10-30.
  21. ^ "Beauty business – as usual;Miss USA contest fights the blemishes". USA Today. 1988-03-01. p. 01D.
  22. ^ Associated press (1991-03-27). "Pair who groomed beauty queens fired as Miss Texas USA directors". The Dallas Morning News. p. 29A.
  23. ^ "'Royalty' Happy Overseas". Albuquerque Journal. 2001-05-16. p. D2.
  24. ^ Knowles, David (2010-05-17). "Rima Fakih, First Muslim Miss USA - David Knowles - Paradigms Lost". True/Slant. Archived from the original on 2012-10-08. Retrieved 2012-11-06.
  25. ^ "Shawnae Jebbia of Massachusetts Crowned "Miss USA 1998"". Business Wire. 2007-03-11.
  26. ^ "Explosion of undetermined cause rocks site of Miss USA pageant". New York Times Abstracts. 1972-05-21. p. 35.
  27. ^ "Tori Hall Fiorenza Real World Challenge pictures, bio, dating". 1986-12-20. Retrieved 2012-11-06.
  28. ^ Lee, Felicia (2007-10-10). "Three Crowns Sharing One Apartment". The New York Times.
  29. ^ "Andy Cohen on Hosting the Miss USA Pageant: I Want to Bring Out the Competition - Today's News: Our Take". 2011-06-17. Retrieved 2012-11-06.
  30. ^ "Miss USA 2012: Olivia Culpo Crowned, Beats Latina Beauties | Fox News Latino". 2012-06-04. Retrieved 2012-11-06.

External links