Miss Teen USA 2017 with her parents It's a second Miss Teen USA win for the Show-Me State as Sophia Dominguez-Heithoff captures the Miss Teen USA crown for Missouri. Missouri's first Teen win was back in 2001 thanks to Marissa Whitley. Sophia is also one of the few winners of Latin descent as she is half-Latina like previous Miss Teen USA winners, Hilary Cruz (2007) and Charlotte Lopez (1993) and each of those 3 are Latina on their father's side. Sophia is also the second MUO titleholder (after Katherine Haik, Miss Teen USA 2015) to be younger than my website which was born on June 9, 1998. Sophia's birthday is March 13, 2000. The format of this year's Miss Teen USA show was good with a similar format to recent years and a lot of people mentioned they liked that the girls got to introduce themselves unlike the most recent Miss USA and Miss Universe pageants. It has now been 10 years since Miss Teen USA was broadcast on television. It aired on CBS from the beginning in 1983 to 2002 and then NBC from 2003 until 2007. The teen pageants still bring in significant revenue at the state level and teen culture has shifted more to the online world than to the television world so Miss Teen USA will probably never return to television. The musical entertainment might have performed himself right out of a career but the hosts were decent. I like that former titleholders have been hosting at Miss Teen USA in recent years but that wasn't the case this year.

In terms of my predictions, I picked 7 of the top 15 plus 1 alternate (the winner-Missouri) and 2 honorable mentions (Indiana and Wyoming). I knew Indiana was going to place but I was tired after posting my predictions at 5 a.m. since the preliminaries were the night before and I didn't know who to take out but it looks like I had many options as there were quite a few really random picks over some other delegates that I felt should have placed. The 5 semifinalists I missed altogether were: Oregon, Maryland, New York, Utah and West Virginia. But what happened to my girls that didn't place? South Carolina was the first and she was a huge surprise. She was practically on everyone's list and definitely should have placed over many of the girls who did. Since one of the judges, K. Lee Graham (Miss Teen USA 2014) is from South Carolina, this makes me wonder if they took her out on purpose perhaps to eliminate some bias. Yet, Miss USA 2015 had all the states that were represented by the judges place so I wonder if this happens some years but not others. To make matters worse, South Carolina also had the longest streak in Miss Teen USA history placing 6 years in a row from 2011 to 2016 until it was unexpectedly and undeservedly broken this year but let's not forget that Megan Pinckney was shut out in 2010 but would later end up placing in the top 6 at Miss USA 2013 so is a similar fate in store for Alexis Johnson?? Alabama was the next to not place and she was also a very popular delegate also. She was complete in every aspect and her gown was unique and stunning so I have no idea what happened there. Pennsylvania was very smart and her stunning black gown was refreshing but somehow the judges passed on her also. Hawaii notably skipped all throughout the preliminary active wear competition and then walked very slowly during the preliminary gown competition before doing a dramatic twirl at the end so this must have been what affected her as I thought she had excellent interview skills based on her online video. I liked that she was more of a free spirit and not willing to conform. North Carolina also was one of the more complete delegates and I loved that she included her dog in her online video. Louisiana was also very well-rounded yet they passed on her too. Tennessee was also very intelligent and I loved her Christmas tree gown. Finally, New Mexico was more of a surprise in preliminaries but she gave a lot of people a strong impression that she could place but they let her go also. I was surprised that the Southeast states weren't that lucky this year as they traditionally do well in pageants so I'm wondering what was up with that.



Winner=Missouri-Sophia Dominguez-Heithoff

Winner=Iowa-Carley Arnold*

1st Runner Up=Oregon-Vanessa Matheson

1st Runner Up=South Carolina-Alexis Johnson

2nd Runner Up=Nevada-Alexis Smith

2nd Runner Up=California-Jaanu Patel*

3rd Runner Up=Indiana-Paige Robinson

3rd Runner Up=Alabama-Claire Scott

4th Runner Up=California-Jaanu Patel

4th Runner Up=Texas-Kirby Lindley*



Arizona-Karly Riggs

Vermont-Kelsey Golonka*

Iowa-Carley Arnold

Pennsylvania-Lauren Weaver

Maryland-Taylor Spruill

Hawaii-Lauren Teruya

New York-Isabella Griffith

Nevada-Alexis Smith*

Oklahoma-Baylee Ogle

North Carolina-McKenzie Hansley

Texas-Kirby Lindley

Louisiana-Hailey Crausby

Utah-Rachel Bell

Tennessee-Megan Ski Hollingsworth

Vermont-Kelsey Golonka

Oklahoma-Baylee Ogle*

West Virginia-Olivia Hutchison

New Mexico-Kalina Hamilton

Wyoming-Autumn Schieferstein

Arizona-Karly Riggs*


ALTERNATES: Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri*


HONORABLE MENTIONS: Indiana*, Connecticut, Wyoming*, Virginia, Washington


* = made actual top 15

After the top 15 were announced, it was time for the active wear competition for the second year in a row. A lot of people commented that they would like to see some consistency in what the girls are wearing for this and I have to agree with that. It's hard to judge when some girls are wearing jackets and some are wearing shorts and others wearing pants with differing lengths. Are we still judging bodies or is it something else? The runners also don't flatter the legs either. As Ali Landry commented in pageants past, the high-heels during the swimsuit competition made the legs look longer and more toned. Past teen pageants have had the girls wear espadrilles which were like platform sandals but longer at the heel. Texas was up first and looked amazing. I was surprised she didn't advance to the top 5. She could have been the one to bring the first back-to-back Miss Teen USA winners for Texas. I did place her as 4th runner up in my list because I thought she would make top 5 and then give a religious answer. Maryland and West Virginia were both surprises for me. These states have sent strong teens in the past but this year, I didn't feel these two were particularly outstanding. Oklahoma had a very good overall appearance. Her red hair was unique and beautifully styled. Nevada also looked fit and fun and her big, curly hair was an added plus similarly to DC winning Miss USA earlier this year with the curls. Missouri looked decent and of course, she won but I'm mad I didn't see it earlier. I should have had her higher on my list. Utah was a surprise but her look was very teen with the short, bedhead hair so I understood why she placed although there are years when that look doesn't work and other years that it does. Wyoming was good. I think she was a decent choice but perhaps not among the best for me. New York was also unexpected for me. Iowa was next and she was my pick to win since she was giving me winner vibes which sometimes works but doesn't always. Unfortunately she didn't make top 5 but I thought her look was just right for Miss Teen USA and her interview sealed the deal for me as I detected genuine warmth coming from her so I know she would have been good for the job. Oregon was a total surprise for me also. I didn't see her coming and getting 1st runner up at that. Indiana was next and she was very fit. It was nagging me after I posted my predictions that she was going to place and I wish I had put her higher in my list rather than just an honorable mention. Sigh. Predicting can be such a trial. Vermont looked amazing and I have to say I'm really impressed with Vermont placing three years in a row as they rarely place so kudos to them for getting it right with the teens recently. Next up was the hometown girl, Arizona who was a great choice and finally, California was one of the few girls of Indian descent to compete and she was an obvious contender like New Jersey placing 1st runner up at Miss USA earlier this year. The high pony-tail worked for her like a previous Indian, Celina Jaitley in 2001.

The gown competition started with Texas wearing a very unique gown with alternating black and teal with a cape and it was certainly different and this girl could wear anything and make it look good but I still think she could have made a better choice. Maryland's white gown didn't do anything for me. West Virginia's gown also wasn't exciting apart from the sparkly bodice. Oklahoma's gown was daring and unique with the big floral design on the side and this gown was also worn by Pia Wurtzbach during the Miss Universe telecast earlier this year. Nevada's lavender gown with the train was really stunning with the best train and was an excellent pick for a teen pageant. Missouri's blue gown blended perfectly with the background lighting. It's amazing how I can pick up on these things yet I still kept her as an alternate on my list. I expect you guys to read my mind and know how I'm going to predict and point out these signs to me in the future. K? Thanks! Utah's red ballgown was suitable for teen and the skirt moved well. Wyoming's black and red was simple but looked like a better version than that worn by Miss Russia during Miss Universe 2001. New York's gown was not appropriate for Teen. This gown was very well designed but it was too sexy and would have been more suited for a Miss pageant. Iowa's yellow ballgown suited her well. Yellow is the color of joy after all! She changed her hair from a bun in preliminaries to a pony tail for finals which I actually thought was the right choice. Oregon wore a gown very similar to the one worn by Vermont's 2015 Teen delegate who coincidentally I had predicted to be 1st runner up to 2015 and by some odd twist of fate, Oregon managed to get 1st runner up this year wearing a similar gown! Indiana's long sleeved gown had a nice train. I would have changed her shoes though. Vermont's white gown was simply angelic. She absolutely would have been a worthy top 5 finisher. Arizona's gown was also really nice. A lot of the gowns floated really nicely on stage and this was one of them. Finally, California worked her yellow gown with supreme confidence.

Once the top 5 were announced (Oregon, Nevada, California, Indiana and Missouri), it was time for two question rounds. The first was the get-to-know-you segment with Oregon being asked about her work with Habitat for Humanity. Oregon said her father started an organization Klamath Basin Youth Without Borders in her County which enabled her to travel abroad to help build housing for families in need in different countries. She said it changed her life just as much as theirs. Nevada was asked about the company she wants to start. Nevada said she felt "unconfident" after suffering a breakout and she wants to start a product for people to feel comfortable in their own skin. California was asked about the campaign she started for acid attack victims. California started a fundraiser through an Indian dance performance for acid attack victims and she joined the Grossman Burn Foundation working with victims for psychological support and charities that pay for acid attack victims' surgeries. Indiana was asked what her favorite positive affirmation is since she starts her day with it. She said she reads a book with new affirmations each day and she starts her day with something positive because you never know who you can affect throughout your day or what you might need. Finally, Missouri was asked about earning the highest honor in Girl Scouts (the Gold award). She said it's similar to the Eagle award for boy scouts but for girl scouts, the project has to be sustainable and she worked with politicians to ensure people with developmental disabilities have the best quality care.

Miss Teen USA 2017 Top 5Miss Teen USA 2017 Judges Finally, the top 5 selected a judge's question to answer. Oregon chose Tamaya Petteway who asked, "Recent findings show that the proportion of high school seniors graduating with an A average has grown sharply as average SAT scores have fallen. Are students across America being coddled into a false sense of accomplishment?" Oregon answered, "I do actually think so. I think our education system is in need of some serious reform. I think it's being made too simple so that just to get kids through. I think teachers are just trying to give kids that passing grade which in the end doesn't benefit anybody. It doesn't benefit the student and it doesn't benefit the society that they're then entering into so I think we really do need to make our courses in high school more rigorous and increase those SAT scores because that in the end really shows off what's inside more." And suddenly Oregon's placement becomes understandable. Even the work she did with Habitat for Humanity combined with this strong answer must have made her shine for the judges. Nevada chose K. Lee Graham who asked, "In some countries when you turn 18, it is mandatory to give two years of service to your country by joining the military or another government service program. Some have argued a similar program should be implemented in the U.S. to create greater civic involvement by our younger generation. Do you think government service should be required at 18. Why or why not?" Nevada answered, "Well, I actually grew up as a military child. I'm so proud to say that my dad served in the Air Force and I am so grateful for that. I think what makes military members so awesome is that they are the ones that decide to give up their lives or sacrifice their lives to keep us safe and I think that we should continue to do that because that is what shows that they are so honorable." This answer was decent but it seemed a bit evasive and what I would have liked to have heard was an answer similar to Crystle Stewart's at Miss USA 2008 that it should be a choice. California chose Divya Gugnani who asked a question submitted on Facebook, "What is the biggest issue facing your generation today and as Miss Teen USA how would you approach that issue." California answered, "I strongly believe the biggest issue facing us today is our educational system. Before high school, I actually didn't realize that we had a fault in our education system and coming in as a freshman, I joined a program in my school known as Model United Nations and going through the program, we compete in debate conferences all over the world, inside our state, around the nation and it is a science experiment for history. It's basically getting hands on experience in every subject and so I've been able to travel all over, all over the world. Last November, I had the opportunity to go to Montreal, Canada and represent my state and debate international issues where you get a first-hand experience. I met students from all over the world, from Kenya, from Australia and you gain perspective on their issues so I think that with our educational system, if we have more programs such as Model United Nations implemented then we can gain more perspective and more opportunities for children within their schools. Thank you." This answer was definitely the most verbose and somewhat loaded but it was a good answer nonetheless and a lot of people were shocked that California was given the 4th runner up position. Indiana chose Syleste Rodriguez who asked another Facebook question, "What makes you most proud of being an American teenager?" Indiana answered, "Our freedoms. When you sit back and think about it and look at the other countries and what they're going through at the moment, you really take the time to be thankful that we are American and that we are free. That we're able to do so much that others can't. This past fall, I was able to vote for the first time as an 18 year old and I felt so proud that I could do that. That I had the freedom that was 18 years old and I took the initiative to potentially change the world and it meant so much to me that I was able to do that as an American teenager." This also was a very strong answer. Finally, Missouri answered Kalani Hilliker's question which was also from Facebook, "In your opinion, what makes you a great leader and what leader qualities would you bring to the Miss Teen USA title?" Missouri answered, "I believe my greatest values and the, the best things that make me the great leader that I am is because I am able to interact with many different types of people regardless of their race, regardless of their ethnicity and regardless of their socio-economic background. It is important to remember that as Miss Teen USA, you are a role model for the entire United States of America and that is a huge country that just so happens to be one of the most diverse in the entire world. It is always important to me to remember my immigrant background and to realize that we, as Americans, are so proud to live in a country that accepts everyone and I would love to be the Miss Teen USA that could accept everyone especially for their differences." I'm sure it helped that she was the last to answer her question but also that she touched on immigration and embracing differences which is a contentious issue in the United States right now.

Rhode Island won Miss Congeniality and ironically, she wasn't able to name that movie during that little 'Name That Movie' segment which was fun. Then Karlie Hay said her farewell and then it was time for the results, California was named 4th runner up. Many jaws dropped. Indiana was named 3rd runner up. Nevada was 2nd runner up. Finally, the winner was announced as Missouri with Oregon placing as 1st runner up for the first time ever. Missouri was crowned the old Diamond Nexus Labs crown just like Karlie Hay was so it looks like Katherine Haik in 2015 was the only Miss Teen USA to be crowned with the DIC crown that looked like barbed wire stars so it looks like that crown will never return. Texas still tops the list of having the most Miss Teen USA winners since they won 3 times with 2 1st runner ups, whereas Oregon is just behind with 3 win and now 1 1st runner up. Sophia will be a great Miss Teen USA. Next up is Miss Universe 2017 which is rumored to be around November 26 probably in Las Vegas but it is not confirmed yet so keep watching those headlines!

 The Prethoughts - Miss Teen USA 2017




Some photos courtesy Miss Universe L.P., LLLP