The Lonestar state of Texas has now captured its third Miss Teen USA crown, thanks to the stunning and very deserving Karlie Hay! This win makes Texas the most successful state at both Miss Teen USA and Miss USA. At Miss Teen USA, Texas won in 1996, 2011 and 2016 with two 1st runners-up in 1986 and 2000. Oregon also has three winners (1988, 1990 and 2003) but 1 3rd runner up. Texas has won the Miss USA crown 9 times and California ranks second with 6 winners of that crown. Shortly after the pageant, there was some cooked up controversy which equals publicity which seems to be the norm since 1996 to make pageants newsworthy as a pageant win in itself is rarely considered newsworthy but incorporate some scandal and suddenly it’s all over the place! Prior to the pageant, the news was that the swimsuit competition at Miss Teen USA was being replaced by an active wear which is already the norm for many other Teen pageants like Miss America’s Outstanding Teen and America’s Junior Miss. Following the pageant, someone took it upon themselves to delve into Karlie’s personal Twitter account way back to three years ago catching her using the N word in some Twitter posts but in more of a slangy way and not in a hateful way. This was long before Karlie had entered the pageant scene and people can certainly evolve and learn from the experience and this actually creates a great platform for her to warn people to watch what they post on social media and to set an example and not use that type of language. Karlie was especially called out by former Miss Teen USA 2010, Kamie Crawford who is promoting her show ‘F in Fabulous’ and she was saying that white people shouldn’t use the N word. The N word is all over rap music today and some black people use the N word as a way amongst each other as a term of endearment to take back the word so that it loses its hateful power much like the Q word amongst the LGBTQ community. Teens for generations have used foul language as a way to be perceived as cool among their peers. Karlie has apologized and is keeping her crown and her Twitter account has been set to private since this incident but thanks to this, she now has a platform and a relevant message for today’s teens that are heavily engaged in social media. Karlie has also said that she had to deal with alcoholism in her family so I applaud her from rising from an upbringing that was not as desirable to transform herself into the bright, spiritual and confidently beautiful woman she is today. Karlie was far and away the winner of this pageant and is easily one of the BEST Miss Teen USA winners in the pageant’s history as she demonstrated all through the pageant so I am glad she is keeping her crown.

The judges for Miss Teen USA 2016: Lu Parker, Savannah Keyes, Eva Marie, Keylee Sanders, Hilary Cruz Another controversy that generated some attention was that for the first time in Miss Teen USA history, the top 5 this year happened to be all blondes and some people thought they all looked the same. I disagree with that as the top 5 absolutely did not look the same as they all had different faces and different bodies so there was still diversity to the top 5 in spite of hair color. I didn’t object to these choices either as there were three respected pageant winners among the five female judges and these ladies absolutely knew what to look for in a potential winner. The judges were: Lu Parker-Miss USA 1994, Keylee Sue Sanders-Miss Teen USA 1995, Hilary Cruz-Miss Teen USA 2007, WWE Star-Eva Marie and singer Savannah Keyes. Some people said that the judges were all white which actually isn’t true as Hilary Cruz and Eva Marie are both half-Mexican. I’m actually sick of the anti-blonde sentiment that I pointed out in my Miss Universe 2007 commentary where some of the blonde delegates that I had chosen among my predictions did not place. There is beauty in ALL races and this year, the visible minority delegates just happened to be not as strong as opposed to other years like at Miss USA 2002 when 4 of the top 5 were black or Miss Universe 1988 when 4 of the top 5 were Asian. Ohio was the only black and minority delegate in the top 15 for Miss Teen USA 2016 although I had New York (Latina), Oklahoma (Black) and Minnesota (Asian) as the minority delegates among my predictions but we don’t see what happens in the interview room so there probably were reasons why they could be omitted. I had 3 blondes and 2 brunettes in my top 5 but 4 of the top 5 were in my top 10 and only 1 of the top 5 (North Carolina) was an alternate for me so I think the top 5 was sensibly chosen.

As for my predictions, I picked 9 of the 15 semifinalists plus 2 alternates (North Carolina and Delaware) and 1 honorable mention (Missouri). The 3 ladies that missed my list were: Louisiana, Ohio and South Dakota. Louisiana was in my next tier and I had my suspicions about Ohio but South Dakota was a total surprise. South Dakota rarely places and this year they managed to place at both Miss USA and Miss Teen USA so 2016 was a good year for them! So what happened to my 6 ladies that didn’t place? First up was Maryland’s Amy Ingram who definitely had a Hollywood look about her and I felt like she was strong in every aspect so I have no idea why she didn’t place. Maryland’s Christina Denny was also omitted at Miss USA earlier this year when I ranked her as 1st runner up so this wasn’t a good year for Maryland for whatever reason. I should also point out that Christina Denny recently competed in the Miss World America as placed in the top 12 and she also placed in the top 10 at Miss America 2014. The Miss World America 2016 crown, by the way, was won by another familiar face, North Dakota’s Audra Mari who is the only woman in history to place as 1st runner up at both Miss Teen USA (2011) and Miss USA (2014) so Audra has finally won her national title and will represent the USA at Miss World to be held in Washington, DC in December which is the 2nd time the U.S. has hosted the Miss World pageant after the 1991 Miss World pageant in Atlanta, Georgia. Next was New York’s Natalia Terrero who I felt had a glow about her that made me think that she had potential to place so I don’t know what happened there either. Oklahoma’s Hellen Smith was thin but fit but she has a bit of a gap between her front teeth which I thought might work for Teen and her gown was very Teen appropriate but I guess her overall look worked against her. Mississippi’s Lauren Rymer was the tallest delegate this year at 6 feet tall but she could have been in slightly better shape. Minnesota’s Sophia Primozich has a very fun, cutesy demeanor that I thought could win over the judges but perhaps her height worked against her. Finally, New Hampshire’s Natalia Podobniy had an interesting story about coming from a Russian immigrant family so I thought interview might pull her through but she did struggle with her sash during the preliminary gown competition but I still gave her a spot as she handled it well. The Congeniality award was won by Rhode Island and Alabama won the Photogenic award deservedly. Did you notice that I correctly pegged Texas as the winner and Alabama as the 3rd runner up?



Winner=Texas-Karlie Hay

Winner=Texas-Karlie Hay*

1st Runner Up=North Carolina-Emily Wakeman

1st Runner Up=California-Athenna Crosby*

2nd Runner Up=South Carolina-Marley Stokes

2nd Runner Up=Georgia-Bentley Wright*

3rd Runner Up=Alabama-Erin Snow

3rd Runner Up=Alabama-Erin Snow*

4th Runner Up=Nevada-Carissa Morrow

4th Runner Up=Tennessee-Savannah Chrisley*



California-Athenna Crosby

Maryland-Amy Ingram

Delaware-Emily Hutchison

Vermont-Tammy Vujanovic*

Georgia-Bentley Wright

Nevada-Carissa Morrow*

Illinois-Olivia Pura

New York-Natalia Terrero

Louisiana-Ellie Picone

South Carolina-Marley Stokes*

Missouri-Dallas Ezard

Oklahoma-Hellen Smith

Ohio-Olivia Turk

Mississippi-Lauren Rymer

South Dakota-Makenzie Falcon

Minnesota-Sophia Primozich

Tennessee-Savannah Chrisley

Illinois-Olivia Pura*

Vermont-Tammy Vujanovic

New Hampshire-Valeria Podobniy


ALTERNATES: Delaware*, New Jersey, North Carolina*, Idaho, Kentucky


HONORABLE MENTIONS: Indiana, West Virginia, Missouri*, Florida, Michigan


* = made actual top 15

This year’s pageant was hosted by Miss USA 2015, Olivia Jordan and Cody Johns who has a large social media following. These two are new to hosting so this was an opportunity to get some experience. The top 15 were announced and did you notice that the first 4 ladies called into the top 15 were the top 4 ladies in my predictions list and almost in the same order?? Quelle coincidence!! After the top 15 were announced, it was on to the active wear competition which saw a lot of the delegates skipping and doing some playful poses and twirls like a lot of other Teen competitions that have active wear competitions in place of a swimsuit competition. Most of the delegates opted for the sports bra with tight pants although some wore shorts and only Wyoming in the preliminaries wore a looser fitting shirt which I heard was more to accommodate her religious beliefs. Texas was up first showing us why Karlie owned this competition because she was definitely the best in beauty and body with her gorgeous look and amazing abs. Texas has a history of performing well in pageants and Karlie was extremely well prepared and showed up looking and sounding like the winner that she is. California had that indented waist and really showed it off. Athenna definitely has a look about her with those big eyes. I was seeing a bit of Shannen Doherty mixed with Jennifer Love Hewitt at times with her. Alabama was another beauty with a great overall look and was also very fit with great abs. Georgia stunned with her heavenly face and hair and she was also supremely fit and was a welcome addition to the semifinals. Illinois followed and Olivia reminds me a lot of her namesake, Olivia Culpo-Miss Universe 2012 and the two of them are quite brainy so I wasn’t surprised to see her place. Missouri was up next and she did look good and came across as a genuinely nice person and she was among my picks at one time but when making predictions, you often find yourself rewriting your lists until you just go with a final one so she fell to my honorable mentions category but I was happy to see Dallas place as I actually liked her. Ohio was next and although she missed my list, I had my suspicions about her as she seemed well prepared. I kept her off my list because she has her angles but she probably did well in interview so I wasn’t surprised to see her place. Louisiana just missed my list also but she was also a decent delegate but could have been more toned. Delaware was my highest alternate and she was also in my list at one time but I took her out for other delegates that I felt had better bodies but a lot of people liked Delaware’s look so she also wasn’t a surprise. South Carolina also had a nice overall look with her long blonde hair but facially I thought was a bit weaker but she still has a great body and nice abs. Vermont surprised us placing two years in a row with sending yet another strong delegate from a state that rarely places but I was very pleased with Tammy as she really is gorgeous with a great body and a nice face and hair so I was happy to see her place. Vermont hadn’t placed since its only win in 1993 until last year so is Vermont on its way to achieving powerhouse status? South Dakota was the surprise of this pageant as I actually had her ranked quite low but she may have done well in interview and she did overcome her gown getting caught on a part of the stage during the preliminaries so perhaps her recovery impressed the judges that much to get a spot in the semifinals. 2016 was a good year for South Dakota as this state rarely places but they placed at both Miss USA and Miss Teen USA this year for the third time in both pageant’s histories. South Dakota also placed at Miss Teen USA in 1986 and 1989. Next up was the reality star, Tennessee’s Savannah Chrisley who appears on the reality show ‘Chrisley Knows Best’ with the rest of the Chrisley family. She has a very unique look sporting the bedhead hairstyle similarly to the other reality star that placed in the top 5 at Miss USA 2016, California’s Nadia Mejia who is the daughter of rapper Gerardo (of ‘Rico Suavé’ fame) and appeared on the reality show ‘Suavé Says’. Will we be seeing more reality show stars compete in pageants in the future? Nevada followed looking strong overall. Her story coming into the pageant was that she lost 40 pounds so she looked fantastic especially considering that she became a fitness trainer as really perfected herself prior to the pageant. Nevada’s delegates are normally well prepared by that state’s director, Shanna Moakler-Miss USA 1995. Finally, North Carolina followed and she does have a great body with toned abs and she actually scored well for me in active wear during preliminaries but it was gown and facial expression that lost her points from me in preliminaries which caused her to fall to my alternates category so she was biggest regret leaving off my final list especially since she got all the way to 1st runner up!

After a lovely parade of all the delegates in their gowns grouped by color, it was on to the evening gown competition featuring Texas up first in a yellow spectacle of a layered gown designed by noted Venezuelan designer Gionni Straccia who designs some heavenly gowns and has been used by many recent Texas titleholders including the last Texan Miss Teen USA 2011, Danielle Doty. The sheer scarf around the chest and arms was an interesting touch but Karlie could make anything work as she is that amazing. What was even more interesting about this gown was that the lower layers could be removed to transform it into a cocktail dress so that was neat. Zuleyka Rivera’s famous silver chain gown from Miss Universe 2006 was also convertible in the same way. Zuleyka wore a different skirt for preliminaries and changed it to the full chain look for finals. California followed floating on stage in an angelic white gown and it looked divine but I wished she worked it a little more like she did in preliminaries. Alabama was next in a white ball gown with an off-shoulder black bodice that really complimented Erin’s stunning looks. Georgia followed looking sweet and sultry at the same time with this remarkable white gown and with the long flowing hair, she just looked like a dream come true. Illinois’ pink number moved well on stage but I think she might have done better in a different gown. Missouri’s gold gown was also intricately designed and the mermaid style is always much appreciated. Ohio’s white gown with sparkled bodice looked decent. Louisiana followed in a simple but bold red number that somehow seemed more Miss than Teen to me. I think the lighter pastel colors sometimes work better for Teen but this gown with the matching earrings looked good. Delaware followed wearing a red gown very similar to that worn by Mirjeta Shala, Miss Kosovo 2015 with the very open neckline and I have to say this style of neckline bugs me a lot as it just looks uncomfortable regardless of how unique it is. I prefer a tighter fitted neckline on gowns. South Carolina followed in one of those panty-gowns that you all know I’m not particularly fond of and is a style that just doesn’t seem to want to go away but she worked it well and she wasn’t trying to flash the panties so blatantly during finals as it seemed less obvious than in preliminaries. This gown with the alternating blue and white kind of made me think of a sailor or the movie ‘Beach Blanket Bingo’ for some reason. I also wish the blue skirt was more flowy and not so bulky-looking. Vermont followed in another alternate white and light blue gown and she worked it well with the nice train similar to last year’s delegate from Vermont. Some say she looked a bit too tanned but maybe it was the lighting and the contrast of this gown. South Dakota followed in a yellow number and she didn’t get stuck this time like in preliminaries and it also looks like she got the train fixed as it looked like a thread got pulled during preliminaries which made part of the train appear crumpled but there were no problems this time around. Tennessee followed in a purple flowy number that was decent but she probably could have chosen something different to stand out more. It’s always interesting to see notable contestants compete in Tennessee like their 1993 Teen titleholder and semifinalist, Jaime Dudney who is the daughter of country singer Barbara Mandrell. Nevada followed in a frosted pink off-shoulder gown and the off-shoulder straps looked too loose and I would have liked to have seen them tighter but the cape was a nice touch. Finally, North Carolina had a simple, bold magenta gown with a belt with a bow. I wasn’t particularly fond of this gown and it actually caused her to fall to my alternates category in my predictions so I wish she had gone with something different but I guess it worked for her given her high finish so maybe this is an example of a gown that had more impact live on stage.

The top 3: North Carolina, Texas, South Carolina After the top 5 were announced, it was time first for a casual question round. North Carolina was asked, “You collect postcards from places you’ve visited. Tell us about some of the cards that are in your collection.” North Carolina answered, “Yes. I have postcards from so many places. I’ve been so fortunate to get to travel with my family and friends so a few of my favorite places is Nice, France and Peru where I went on a mission trip and I think my first postcard was actually to Cozumel, Mexico on a cruise ship and that’s where it, kind of, all started and from there it just, it’s a great way for me to remember and really, you know, be able to look back at those memories and so it’s one of my favorite things to do when I travel.” I didn’t particularly get anything special about this answer but she seemed comfortable on stage and perhaps that was what appealed to the judges. Nevada was asked, “You gained 40 pounds after winning your state pageant. How did that happen and how did you lose the weight?” Nevada answered, “Well, yes, that is true. I went through a lot of family problems just like problems like everybody goes through and something in my head just switched instantly and it just made me… it got me motivated and I started going to the gym three times a day. That’s insane, I know! And I was on this great diet and I just started going and then now, I am a personal trainer and I train so many teens in my community and they come to me and they’re feeling down about themselves or they want to know about nutrition and I think that’s amazing. That’s something I want to do on a national level as well, just empower girls and make them feel confidently beautiful.” Nevada was prepared for this answer and while her delivery was a bit stumbly, she did a decent job. Texas was up next and was asked, “Karlie, I heard you can recite the preamble to the U.S. Constitution by heart. Can you give us a little taste?” Texas responded, “If you insist! I guess I can try it out. ‘We the people, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, and insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty (and…of) ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution of the United States of America.’” I likened this moment to when last year, Katherine Haik named all the presidents in order in song and I feel that particularly at this moment was when Karlie sealed the deal and set herself apart as the winner. Alabama was up next and was asked, “‘You’ve been all over the world with your family so why don’t you tell us about some of your travels?” Alabama answered, “Well, I’ve been… I danced right next to the Eiffel Tower with my dance company and that was amazing but one of my favorite places that I went to is Kuwait over in the Middle East and I really got to realize how people all over the world, we’re all equal and I think as soon as we realize that, we can get past all the stereotypes and everything that comes with it.” This was a nice answer to promote racial harmony and I appreciated that. South Carolina was asked, “In 8th grade, you created a program called ‘Crayons for Kids.’ What is this exactly?” South Carolina answered, “Well, this is my platform. In the second grade, I was diagnosed with severe learning disabilities: retention, comprehension, processing, speech impediment and a slight case of dyslexia. And so now, I go into schools and tell kids that there’s more to just reading and writing. You can express your world through coloring, dance, sports, anything so I really want to get out there as Miss Teen USA and get… and be a role model for those kids and use my platform at the national level.” This was also a good, well-prepared answer and a good platform also.

Katherine Haik-Miss Teen USA 2015 and Karlie Hay-Miss Teen USA 2016 And then the final round of competition was the judges’ questions. North Carolina chose Lu Parker who asked, “The average American teenager spends 9 hours a day in front of a screen. Is the digital revolution a good or a bad thing for teenagers and why?” North Carolina answered, “You know, I think there are definitely positive things about, you know, this influence. But overall, I think that it is so important that teenagers and kids are getting outside and exercising a lot. I know that for me that was a huge part of growing up and that’s why, this year, I started a problem called S.E.E. Fitness where I’ve talked to hundreds of students now about the importance of going outside and living that balanced lifestyle between, you know, going on social media some but really hanging out with friends and being active and you know, if I can impact someone’s life and help them to live a healthy lifestyle too, that’s what I’d like to do.” This was a good answer and she even managed to incorporate the program that she started in her answer so this may have propelled North Carolina to the 1st runner up position. Nevada chose Keylee Sanders question, “Recently, there’s been a lot of conversation and debate about gun laws. Do you think it’s appropriate for security guards to carry guns in U.S. schools?” Nevada answered, “So we are Americans and citizens so we have the right to bear arms and of course, policemen have the right to have guns. (Audience cheers.) Thank you. However, I do believe we should be monitoring who has control over guns and go through a higher security and testing before people get those guns for the safety of Americans.” I have to say I was surprised that Nevada ranked as 4th runner up as her answers were decent but I guess it just depended on the overall opinion of the judges. Texas chose Savannah Keyes question, “What issue that affect teens do you think the presidential candidates should be addressing more?” Texas responded, “Peer pressure. Hands down. I think that teens get peer pressure from every angle: about the way they look, about the way they fit in, about how they follow other, other teenagers, I mean, drinking, drugs, partying and the next presidential… or the next president needs to confront this issue and really just let teens know that you need to be yourself, and you need to be a leader, and of course, the next Miss Teen USA needs to be a leader as well. Thank you.” Texas knocked it out of the ballpark yet again giving another stellar answer further making her the one to beat. Alabama chose Eva Marie’s question, “What is something that is going on in schools today that adults would be surprised to learn?” Alabama responded, “I think definitely just going back to the basics of bullying. I, myself was not personally bullied but I have seen it and you can look everywhere and see that it is a problem and that it’s growing and I think as soon as we address it as realize what we have to do to stop it then we’ll be on the path to success.” This answer was short and sweet but perhaps the judges wanted her to elaborate a bit more. South Carolina chose Hilary Cruz’s question, “36 of the contestants here will be able to vote this year for the first time. Is there anything about the campaigning process that you would like to see changed in the future?” South Carolina answered, “I think that we need to change our school systems and tell our kids that are about to start, um, voting that… or explain the process so they know it better because for me, it’s still a little blurry and I’m a new voter and so I need some more practice in it… so…” This was probably the weakest answer of the 5 but her previous answer about the program she started probably helped her. This was a strong question and answer round which can’t be said of all pageants and anyone who questions whether or not all blondes should have made the top 5 should actually listen to this question and answer round and listen to how smart these blondes are and how well prepared they were and very deserving of their placements. I think I probably would have ranked Alabama higher but the final rankings were fair and understandable.

After Katherine Haik did her final walk as the youngest Miss Teen USA winner in history, one surprise we learned during the crowning was that they went back to Diamond Nexus Labs crown rather than the DIC crown that was only used for the first time last year. A lot of people seemed to appreciate this change as many people compared the DIC crown to barbed wire instead of connected stars. Congratulations to Karlie Hay on a well-deserved win and I hope the little controversy doesn’t taint her reign and the public will see what an outstanding individual she has evolved into. In other pageant news, two controversial dethronements have taken place: Miss Puerto Rico Universe, Kristhieelee Caride who was my winner for the upcoming Miss Universe 2016 pageant until she got dethroned for being unenthusiastic during an interview in fighting to get her crown back but it looks unlikely as her runner-up Brenda Jimenez has been named the replacement. The first delegate crowned for Miss USA 2017 was Florida’s Genesis Davila [who is also Puerto Rican and has represented Puerto Rico in various pageants like Miss World (unplaced) and Miss Intercontinental (1st runner up) and Miss Puerto Rico Universe 2013 (1st runner up)] was dethroned for allegedly using professional hair and make-up artists for the state pageant which is apparently against the rules and Linette De Los Santos has now been named Miss Florida USA. Both cases have gone to court but the runners-up have been crowned so I don’t know that anything will come out of them but many people have found these to be silly reasons to dethrone a winner so maybe there is more to the story. It also looks like 2016 is becoming another leap year just like 2014 as the next Miss Universe pageant is slated to be held on January 29, 2017 (at 7 p.m. Eastern Standard Time) in the Philippines where reigning queen, Pia Wurtzbach can give up her crown in her home country as was done the last time Philippines won back in 1973 where Margarita Moran gave up her crown to Spain’s Amparo Munoz in 1974 in the Philippines. The 2014 Miss Universe pageant was actually held in January 2015 so it’s déjà vu all over again which this upcoming pageant being held in 2017 instead of 2016. The Philippines’ president initially rejected funding the pageant but Tourism Minister Wanda Teo says she has secured private funding for the 11 million dollar hosting fee so it looks like it might be all systems go but we shall learn soon if it is all confirmed.





Some photos courtesy Miss Universe L.P., LLLP