Miss USA

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Miss USA
File:Miss USA.png
Logo of the Miss USA Organization.
Formation 1952
Type Beauty pageant
Headquarters New York City
Miss Universe
Official language
Paula Shugart
Affiliations William Morris Endeavor
Website www.missuniverse.com

The Miss USA beauty pageant has been held annually since 1952 to select the American entrant 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 2015, after Trump made statements about undocumented immigrants from Mexico in his presidential campaign kickoff speech, NBC decided to end their business relationship and stated that they will no longer air the pageant, or the Miss Universe pageant, on their networks.[1] In September 2015, WME/IMG purchased the pageant from Trump.[2]

The current Miss USA is Olivia Jordan of Oklahoma who was crowned on July 12, 2015 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Traditionally, Miss USA lives in New York City during her reign.


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.[3] 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.[4][5]

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.[6] 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 wasn't a regular for the CBS network until 1972 when he became host of The Price Is Right) 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 Nielsen ratings.[7][8][9] 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.[10] 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.[11] 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.[12][13] 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.[14]

In late-June 2015, both NBC and Spanish-language network Univision announced that they would cut their ties with Donald Trump and the Miss Universe Organization in response to derogatory remarks Trump made relating to illegal immigration during the launch of his 2016 U.S. presidential campaign, resulting in both Miss USA and Miss Universe being dropped from their schedules. NBCUniversal also plans to take steps to remove itself from the MUO joint venture. Trump threatened to sue both companies over the decision; on June 30, 2015, Trump sued Univision for defamation and breach of contract.[15][16] As a result, Miss USA 2015 will instead be carried via a webcast on the pageant's website.[17] On July 1, digital cable network Reelz announced they would televise the 2015 pageant.[18] Starting 2016, Fox will broadcast the pageant.[19]


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.[20] 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

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.[21] 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 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 oldest woman to win Miss USA is Miss USA 2015 Olivia Jordan of Oklahoma at 26 years and 10 months old. The oldest woman to be crowned Miss USA is Miss USA 2012 Nana Meriwether of Maryland at 27 years old and 7 months. Meriwether succeeded Olivia Culpo who won the title of Miss Universe 2012.

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 Latina was Laura Martinez-Herring of Texas in 1985; the first African-American, Carole Gist of Michigan in 1990;[22] and the first Miss USA of Middle-Eastern descent was Rima Fakih of Michigan in 2010.[23]

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.[13] 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

Year Miss USA State Host City Placement at Miss Universe
2015 Olivia Jordan Oklahoma Oklahoma Baton Rouge, Louisiana 2nd Runner-Up
2014 Nia Sanchez Nevada Nevada Baton Rouge, Louisiana 1st Runner-Up
2013 Erin Brady Flag of Connecticut.svg Connecticut Las Vegas, Nevada Top 10
2012 Nana Meriwether Maryland Maryland Las Vegas, Nevada Succeeded Olivia Culpo
Olivia Culpo Rhode Island Rhode Island Las Vegas, Nevada Miss Universe 2012

Winners' gallery

By number of wins

File:Miss USA title holders.png
Miss USA winners by state up to 2015 (Includes dethroned winners and those who have inherited the title.)
State Titles Winning Years
 Texas 9 1977, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1995 [1], 2001, 2008
 California 6 1959, 1966, 1975, 1983, 1992, 2011
 New York 4 1952, 1979, 1995 [2], 1999
 Hawaii 1962, 1972, 1978, 1997 [1]
 Illinois 1953, 1963, 1973, 1974
 Michigan 3 1990, 1993, 2010
 Louisiana 1958, 1961, 1996
 South Carolina 1954 [1], 1980 [1], 1994
 Maryland 2 1957 [3], 2012 [2]
 North Carolina 2005, 2009
 Tennessee 2000, 2007
 Massachusetts 1998, 2003
 District of Columbia 1964, 2002
 Ohio 1965, 1981
 Virginia 1969, 1970
 Utah 1957 [4], 1960 [1]
 Oklahoma 1 2015
 Nevada 2014
 Connecticut 2013
 Rhode Island 2012 [1]
 Kentucky 2006
 Missouri 2004
 Idaho 1997 [2]
 Kansas 1991
 New Mexico 1984
 Arkansas 1982
 Arizona 1980 [2]
 Minnesota 1976
 Pennsylvania 1971
 Washington 1968
 Alabama 1967 [1]
 Florida 1967 [2]
 Iowa 1956 [1]
 Vermont 1955

1 Won 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 Miss USA winner dethroned.

4 Replaced the dethroned Miss USA.

Top 16 states by tally

See Miss USA state rankings
Rank State Miss USA 1st Runner-Up 2nd Runner-Up 3rd Runner-Up 4th Runner-Up 5th Runner-Up Semifinalists Total
1  Texas 9 5 2 2 2 0 31 51
2  California 6 7 3 6 3 0 20 45
3  New York 4 4 1 1 1 0 23 34
4  Illinois 4 0 3 3 1 0 16 27
5  Hawaii 4 0 1 0 1 0 15 21
6  South Carolina 3 5 3 1 1 1 20 34
7  Louisiana 3 1 1 4 1 0 14 24
8  Michigan 3 1 0 1 0 0 19 24
9  Tennessee 2 2 4 2 2 0 19 31
10  Virginia 2 2 1 0 1 0 14 20
11  District of Columbia 2 2 0 0 1 0 13 18
12  Ohio 2 1 1 2 2 0 11 19
13  Maryland 2 1 0 0 1 0 15 19
14  Massachusetts 2 1 0 0 0 0 10 13
15  North Carolina 2 0 3 1 1 0 9 16
16  Utah 2 0 1 3 1 0 14 21


See Miss USA Special Awards

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. In 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 Burma, Myint Myint May, and Miss Louisiana USA, Rebecca Fletcher. In 2015, Alaska and Delaware tied for the Miss Congeniality award. Vermont has 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.[24] 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.[25]

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 2014-2015), 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

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, 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.[26]

In 2007 Pageant Place, a reality television show featuring Rachel Smith, Riyo Mori, Hilary Cruz, Katie Blair and Tara Conner aired on MTV.[27]

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

See also


  1. Stanhope, Kate (2015-06-29). "NBC Cuts Ties With Donald Trump Over "Derogatory Statements," Pulls Miss USA and Miss Universe Pageants". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2015-06-30.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. [1]
  3. Deam, Jenny (2005-10-11). "There she goes...Miss America Once queen of the airwaves, beauty pageant is left homeless". Denver Post. p. F01.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. "Gulf+Western Industries announces reorganization plan". PR Newswire. 1985-03-12.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. Associated Press (1996-10-24). "Trump buys Miss Universe, two other beauty pageants". The Globe and Mail. p. B14.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. Colon, Marisa (1999-05-28). "Long Beach, Calif., Consultant Coaches Beauty Contestants". Press-Telegram.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. Associated Press (1980-05-21). "U.S. pulchritude tops TV charts". The Globe and Mail. p. P15.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. Associated Press (1982-05-19). "Pageant tops Nielsen ratings". The Globe and Mail. p. P15.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. Associated Press (1983-05-18). "Beauty pageant most-watched show". The Globe and Mail. p. P15.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. de Moraes, Lisa (2002-06-22). "There She Goes: Pageants Move to NBC". Washington Post.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. "Trump moves pageants from CBS to NBC". St. Petersburg Times. 2002-06-22. p. 2B.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. Froelich, Janis (1989-10-27). "News anchor shuns beauty queen past". St. Petersburg Times. p. 1D.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. 13.0 13.1 "USA Sherwood". Associated Press. 1997-05-18.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. de Moraes, Lisa (2007-06-21). "Are Trump's Beauties at Home With the Camera? They'll Have to Be". Washington Post. p. C07.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  15. "NBC: Done With Donald Trump, Miss USA, Miss Universe – Update". Deadline. Retrieved 1 July 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  16. "Donald Trump Hits Univision With $500M Miss USA Lawsuit, Network Calls It "Ridiculous" – Update". Deadline. Retrieved 1 July 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  17. "Miss USA To Be Streamed After NBC And Pageant Co-Hosts Bail". Deadline. Retrieved 1 July 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  18. http://mashable.com/2015/07/02/miss-usa-reelz/
  19. http://www.tvinsider.com/article/49807/miss-universe-and-miss-usa-pageants-to-air-on-fox/
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  21. Associated press (1991-03-27). "Pair who groomed beauty queens fired as Miss Texas USA directors". The Dallas Morning News. p. 29A.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  22. "'Royalty' Happy Overseas". Albuquerque Journal. 2001-05-16. p. D2.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  23. Knowles, David (2010-05-17). "Rima Fakih, First Muslim Miss USA - David Knowles - Paradigms Lost". True/Slant. Retrieved 2012-11-06.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  24. "Shawnae Jebbia of Massachusetts Crowned "Miss USA 1998"". Business Wire. 2007-03-11.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  25. "Explosion of undetermined cause rocks site of Miss USA pageant". New York Times Abstracts. 1972-05-21. p. 35.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
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  29. "Miss USA 2012: Olivia Culpo Crowned, Beats Latina Beauties | Fox News Latino". Latino.foxnews.com. 2012-06-04. Retrieved 2012-11-06.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links