Carrie Prejean, Miss California USA 2009 But... I put my faith in you, Carrie. My faith... in you... For those who followed by prethoughts leading up to the Miss USA 2009 finals, you will remember how I drew attention to the fact that California was the only state to have a Miss USA winner in each decade since its inception. The California 5: Terry Lynn Huntingdon - Miss USA 1959, Maria Remenyi - Miss USA 1966, Summer Bartholomew - Miss USA 1975, Julie Hayek - Miss USA 1983, Shannon Marketic - Miss USA 1992 Terry Lynn Huntingdon had the 50s (1959), Maria Remenyi had the 60s (1966), Summer Bartholomew had the 70s (1975), Julie Hayek had the 80s (1983) and finally Shannon Marketic had the 90s (1992). This year was the last year that California had to claim a winner in the 2000s and I squarely placed the pressure on Carrie Prejean, Miss California USA 2009 but little did I know then that Carrie Prejean would become the story of the 2009 Miss USA pageant for entirely different reasons. California has had 4 1st runner up placements since their last win in 1992 (Shauna Gambill in 1998, Brittany Hogan in 2005, Tamiko Nash in 2006 and now Carrie Prejean in 2009). But the historical chain was broken by the narrowest of margins... and was it because of Carrie Prejean's convictions? Perhaps. But allow me to delve deeper into the issue at hand because I have had a lot of thoughts about certain things other than the pageant itself which I will present now. The controversy arose when the openly gay internet gossip columnist Perez Hilton posed that question to Carrie Prejean, "Vermont recently became the fourth state to legalize same sex marriage. Do you think every state should follow suit? Why or why not?" Carrie started off on the right foot as she began to answer, "Well, I think it's great that Americans are able to choose one or the other. We live in a land that you can 'choose' same sex marriage or opposite marriage." So I'm hearing the word 'choose' and that's a good thing but then the wheels come tumbling off as Carrie's religious convictions kicked in and she concluded with, "You know what? In my country and in my family, I believe that marriage should be between a man and a woman. No offense to anybody out there but that's how I was raised and I think it should be between a man and a woman. Thank you." Depending on where you were sitting in the audience, there was either an eruption of boos or cheers. Naturally, Perez Hilton bowed his head with a visibly pissed look on his face upon hearing this answer and then after the pageant concluded with Carrie placing as 1st runner up, Perez went off in a video blog on his website going so far as to call Carrie a 'dumb bitch' and went on to defend his reasoning for calling her this by saying that a Miss USA should unite and not divide with her words. He went on saying that if Carrie had won the crown that he would have run on stage and snatched it from her head even if security went after him. He confessed that as a judge, he did not give her a 'favorable' vote. When it comes to the final rankings, the judges rank the top 5 by giving each of them a score of 1 to 5 which results in whoever gets the lowest score wins the crown but the final ranking should be based on overall impression and not just the final answer. Some of the other judges also sided with Perez and said that they had not scored Carrie favorably after this round of questions. Carrie said in a media blitz following the pageant that her answer cost her crown and some people debate that North Carolina won swimsuit and evening gown and that it was her crown anyway but by that logic, Crystle Stewart would not have won last year as it was actually Oklahoma's Lindsey Jo Harrington that won swimsuit and evening gown. Even at Miss Universe last year, Colombia's Taliana Vargas also won both swimsuit and evening gown but Venezuela's Dayana Mendoza emerged triumphant as the winner so if some of the judges openly confessed to giving Carrie low scores that would have meant that some other judges on the panel gave her very high scores if she managed to place as 1st runner up so it really could have been Carrie's crown. But instead she figuratively sacrificed the Miss USA crown for a crown of thorns as several onlookers shouted 'Crucify her! Crucify her!' and then they dropped a bucket of pig's blood on her and with her supernatural powers, 'Carrie' locked all the doors of the auditorium and caused the building to catch fire... No, that didn't really happen. Just painting a mental image. Those were references to Jesus and the horror film 'Carrie', btw. And am I comparing Carrie to Jesus? Not at all. Jesus preached love and never said anything about homosexuality. So do I regret choosing Carrie as my prediction to win Miss USA? Well, what's done is done but had it not been for that question and that answer, things certainly could have gone the other way but I had also said when making my predictions that I would be equally as happy if Kristen Dalton had won Miss USA and when she did, I was ecstatic. In the end, Kristen really was the right choice. Kristen was asked how she would have answered that question on 'Access Hollywood' and she obviously gave a more pleasant answer but we will never know how she truly would have answered the question at that moment of time, even though Kristen was remarkably prepared. I think the problem with Carrie Prejean's answer was that it demonstrated a severe lack of diplomacy, a quality for which Miss USA 1988, Courtney Gibbs was constantly praised. I think most straight people that side with Carrie really need to understand that being gay is not a choice and they likely don't understand it because they don't have the brain of a gay person and therefore aren't able to see things the same way. All individuals have distinct tastes that are preprogrammed into our being such as one person may prefer rock music over new age music or techno music and vice versa. Also having different tastes in food, etc. Yes, Carrie expressed her opinion and she's entitled to do so but that view is perceived as bigoted and ignorant on an ever increasing level. In media interviews, she maintained her beliefs and said that for her, it wasn't about being politically correct, it was about being Biblically correct. She said she was raised in a way that you can never compromise. She parlayed this into becoming a spokesperson for NOM, the National Organization for Marriage (traditional marriage). The reality of it is one would have to question who would choose to be gay which often results in such a life of discrimination? Being gay is something that is ingrained in someone's being and gay people are born the way they are just like we can't choose our race, height, eye color, etc. The United States has an ugly history stemmed from unwarranted discrimination. The same stumbling blocks that had to be overcome to abolish slavery and opposition to interracial marriage basically apply here and there will come a day when hating gay marriage will be just as uncool as things like slavery, or being opposed to such things as giving women the right to vote or being opposed to interracial marriage. Racism, sexism and homophobia are all still alive and well in certain people but those numbers are progressively diminishing as the masses become educated. I live in Canada, where gay marriage is now legal and I know several gay married couples and I would hate to think that these loving couples who are also my friends would be denied the same rights that straight married couples enjoy, such as survivorship rights or even the right to see a dying loved one in the hospital. If it is between two mutually consenting adults, what's the harm? Several of you have emailed me and told me your stories about struggles with your sexuality and how this whole issue affects you and some have been excommunicated from their churches as a result. But the fact of the matter is that all people are sinners. No one really is in any position to judge another person. The Bible says in Romans 3:23, "For ALL have sinned and have fallen short of the glory of God." Straight people are just as susceptible. The Bible says God hates divorce but it is very common and promiscuity is quite common among both orientations. In other parts of the world, religious extremism causes people to accept cruel and unusual punishment. The Miss World 2002 pageant was originally set to be held in Nigeria but several contestants withdrew in protest of a woman named Amina Lawal from being sentenced to death by stoning for conceiving a child out of wedlock. In other parts of the world, if a woman is raped, she might be perceived to be the punishable party. Ridiculous as it may sound, this kind of thing does happen. Different countries don't have equal rights for women and some people strictly believe in arranged marriage where in some cases, parents choose a spouse for their child and there is no dating and they pretty much have to go along with it. Do I believe in God? Absolutely, I believe in a creator. When you look at everything in the world, its ecosystems and all people, it is quite clear that we are designed beings. Someone had to decide how everything would work and if we would have two eyes instead of three or one. Bill Maher, who is agnostic recently released a documentary film 'Religulous' where he challenges certain religious leaders and exposes the fairytale aspects of religion (i.e. a talking snake telling Eve to eat the forbidden fruit). I'll admit that I have questions about aspects of religion and the Bible. The Bible was written by men who were supposedly told things or inspired by God including such intimate details as what went on in someone's bedroom but one must wonder how much of what is written in the Bible is actually God and how much of it is thought injected by the writer's individual biases. Some people say God is all knowing but in the story of Adam and Eve and they hid after they ate the forbidden fruit, he had to call out asking where they were. Shouldn't God have known where they were? So why did he have to ask? And why did he create the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the first place? Shouldn't he have known that they were going to eat the fruit? Supposedly, it was the eating of this fruit that caused humans to become the most intelligent of all animals, possessing the ability to communicate and create things of our own as God did, and humans are the only animals that feel the need to cover their genitalia with clothing (usually) whereas all other animals don't wear clothing... unless the animal's human owner insists, i.e. putting a shirt on their pet dog for example.
Although the Bible says God is loving, some people question why so much bad stuff happens in the world such as death, war, and natural disasters. The Bible tells stories about wars, looting and plundering stemming from discrimination and one group hating another for reasons as stupid as one group was circumcised whereas the other wasn't. Circumcision is another thing that is commonly practiced due to the religious belief that it marks an entrance into a covenant with God but one must question if such things are truly necessary. A New Testament ruling says that it is really circumcision of the heart (i.e. a spiritual connection with God) that truly matters. Just because a person is circumcised doesn't mean that person is necessarily a good person. Some people probably would have liked to have had the choice of whether or not they were circumcised and some people might maintain that it is healthier but there are many studies that debate that.
Although the sixth commandment is 'Thou shalt not kill.' It seemed to have been exceptioned in certain circumstances. When it comes to morality, even God-approved men like Samson slept with prostitutes. King David slept around with pretty much anyone he wanted. He may have even had a thing with Jonathan. Who knows? David kills Goliath and this is condoned? Some who would start wars seemed to believe that God was on their side although they were probably just as sinful. It is stories like these that may have led to such things as the 9/11 attacks and other wars of the sort. Can't we all just get along? Would the world be a better place if we were all hermaphrodites? That way, we wouldn't have issues facing both sexes because there would only be one sex and then both sexism and the whole sexual orientation thing goes out the window. But God decided that some of us would have penises and some would have vaginas and we pretty much have to live with it but there are some people that go to great lengths to try to change that. One example is the 'pregnant man' Thomas Beatie, who was formerly Tracy LaGondino who actually was a semifinalist at Miss Hawaii Teen USA 1989. I remember seeing an episode of 'Family Guy' which shows a drunken God creating Rosie O'Donnell and an angel tells him, 'You can't put a vagina on this man!' to which the drunken God replies, 'Why not? I'm God!' And that really struck a chord with me. Who are we to question God? What if God really doesn't care and makes things a certain way for the fun of it? Why does he choose that one human should have a penis when that person clearly has the brain and the desires of a female? Does God toy with us? What if Heaven and Hell don't exist and there is no afterlife? What if death is just like falling asleep and not being able to wake up? We are told certain things will happen but how much of it is reality and how much of it is fantasy is unclear and it is something that us living people won't really know until that time comes. We are also told that the end is near but generations have been told that for literally thousands of years so you can't help but wonder if this is something that is told to us to basically make us be good but I would like to think that people should be good to each other anyway but we all know in the real world, that is just not the case. Many people do a lot of things that their church tells them to do but aren't written in the Bible such as saying a thousand rosaries or confessing sins to a priest but aren't priests just as human as anyone else and shouldn't one be able to go directly to God? And what good is prayer if God is going to have His way anyway?
In the same passage of scripture in Leviticus that calls homosexuality detestable, it also has some rules as ridiculous as not eating shrimp or pork and not wearing clothes made of wool mixed with linen. Some scholars who have studied the Bible's original language think that calling homosexuality an abomination is perhaps too strong a word in the English language and that a better translation would be 'against ritual' mainly because the Israelites at the time had a population struggle and were encouraged to procreate. Some people promote straight marriage for the purposes of procreation but there are some cases where a man or woman simply can't reproduce due to some physical issue so the whole marriage for procreation debate doesn't necessarily apply in all cases. Some religious parents who think that homosexuality is a learned behavior don't want their children thinking that gay marriage is okay but they will be who they are regardless unless they are forced into it or feel obligated to conform to what is deemed to be a societal norm which could cause problems later on. Some people are opposed to gay couples raising families as well but what could be a more nurturing environment than a loving household? There are probably more children raised by single mothers. Some feel that the children of gay couples will be taunted but society's view needs to change. I find that the vast majority of gay people tend to be just all-around nicer people than some of their straight counterparts. I remember seeing footage of a straight man protesting against homosexuality at a gay pride parade but instead of fighting or challenging him, a gay onlooker decided to simply give the man a hug.
No H8: Tamiko Nash, Miss California USA 2006, Shanna Moakler, Miss USA 1995 and Raquel Beezley, Miss California USA 2008 After the pageant, Carrie's defiance as Miss California USA to go and promote her own agenda has led to discussion as to whether or not she should be stripped of her title. Keith Lewis and Shanna Moakler, Miss USA 1995 currently are the directors of Miss California USA and have also been making several media appearances. Both do not agree with Carrie's opinion. Keith appreciates that she has an opinion but that Carrie should disassociate herself with the Miss California USA title when promoting her views. Shanna Moakler is seen here with former Miss California USAs Raquel Beezley and Tamiko Nash with the slogan "NO H8" written on one of their cheeks and duct tape over their mouths in a campaign opposing Proposition 8 which was recently put to a vote in California and the side that maintains that marriage should be between a man and a woman only narrowly won. Brook Lee, Miss Universe 1997 also appears in her own No H8 ad campaign where she is seen also with the duct tape over her mouth and the No H8 slogan on her cheek while holding roses, wearing a crown and donning a sash saying "Miss Equality" where she is also being groomed by drag queens.
And then some other stuff surfaced such as Carrie's provocative pictures which show her modelling wearing only pink panties and had and you could see that she was topless but her arms was covering her nipples. Carrie said that she is a Christian and a model and Miss Universe 2008, Dayana Mendoza has similar pictures and much pre pageant discussion was made of similar pictures taken of Joyce Giraud, Miss Puerto Rico 1998 and 2nd runner up to Miss Universe 1998 as well as Helen Lindes, Miss Spain 2000, who was also 2nd runner up at Miss Universe 2000. Then Miss Universe president, Maureen Reidy said the pictures were tasteful and there was nothing that warranted taking away a crown. Shanna Moakler said that the Miss California USA organization did pay for Carrie's breast augmentation just prior to Miss USA. Then, Carrie's parents' ugly divorce in 1988 when Carrie was a baby made headlines and in the original documents during the child custody fights, there was an accusation from Carrie's mother where she allegedly questioned that Carrie's father might be gay and then Carrie's mother remarried and there was allegedly talk that Carrie's father said that men with moustaches are gay and that Carrie's stepfather (who apparently had a moustache...) was gay but later Carrie's father claimed that there was only discussion about the stepfather's brother being gay. Okay. Well, anyway some people think the opposition to same sex marriage may have stemmed from that. Then, Tami Farrell (Miss Teen USA 2003) who was also 1st runner up at Miss California USA was thrown into the mix because if Carrie was dethroned, then Tami would take over as Miss California USA. In spite of all of this working against her, Carrie will likely keep her crown but I worry when she says her farewell at the next Miss California USA if she will be perceived negatively and if she may need a bodyguard or if she will even show up at all. All of this has made for some uncomfortable scenarios for everyone involved.
This really turned into a bunch of random musings stemming from that one question and answer but let's discuss the actual Miss USA 2009 pageant itself now, shall we??

This year's pageant was staged in Las Vegas, Nevada again and the intros showcase the delegates doing a voiceover intro to Katy Perry's 'Hot & Cold'. Ohio must have had a cold on the day of the voiceover recordings. New Jersey had a very Jersey accent. I wasn't expecting her to sound like that and Tennessee's voice was deeper than I was expecting too.

When it came to my predictions, my top two flipflopped and the highly touted California's win-in-each-decade streak was broken by the narrowest of margins! The results were a complete tease in comparison to my predictions. I got 6 semifinalists, 2 alternates and 2 honorable mentions and a whopping 4 that just fell short of making my list made it. 3 of those 4 (Connecticut, Minnesota and Virginia) were eliminated in the first round and South Carolina narrowly advanced. The only real shocker here was Idaho. And did you notice the top 6 were the six ladies that were in my list? And that I got the correct placement of Utah and Texas but my top two switched positions and Arizona and Kentucky had stronger showings.
Alysha Castonguay, Miss Rhode Island USA 2009 There were 9 former Miss Teen USA contestants competing in this pageant but none of them made the semifinals. The first time that this has happened since 1994. The problem was that six of the former teens were in my list so maybe I tend to favor the former teen titleholders probably because they come across to me as more prepared and poised and have made previous impressions on me. Also, my list had more visible minorities in it than the actual semifinalist list. I really think to some extent that some of the stronger delegates were left out to make the competition slightly easier for the frontrunners as has been seen in some previous years and some delegates that were easier to cut advanced only to be eliminated. So what happened to my girls that didn't make it? Well, first off was Rhode Island's Alysha Castonguay. This girl has several titles under her belt including Miss Rhode Island Teen USA 2002 and semifinalist at Miss Teen USA, Miss Teen America and Miss Teen Galaxy. She was a cheerleader for the New England patriots. Alysha is gorgeous with an amazing body, gown, hair and fresh face but the only thing that may have worked against her was her height. Alysha, if given the opportunity, could have been the third Miss USA from the Miss Teen USA class of 2002. Tara Conner, Miss USA 2006 and Rachel Smith, Miss USA 2007 also competed at Miss Teen USA 2002. At the Miss state level she was crowned by Amy Diaz again just like at the Teen state level. Rhode Island had a 3 year streak in the semifinals but this certainly was not the year for that to end. Next was Nevada's Georgina Vaughan, another former teen (2006), and she was the homestate delegate which I thought would work to her advantage but even though she looked incredible when she won her state title, she appeared to have gained weight since and she probably could have tried a bit harder in preliminaries (i.e. fuller hair, better gown). I stuck with my earlier impression but I can see why she was cut. Did you also notice that the three judges that competed at Miss USA (Claudia Jordan of Rhode Island, Alicia Jacobs of Nevada and Shandi Finnessey of Missouri) didn't have their respective states in the semifinals? Perhaps there's something to that. Next up was Kansas who I thought was more of an understated beauty. There was something about the brown hair and blue eyes that made her a standout for me. No idea what happened there but I certainly thought she was stronger than some of the actual semifinalists. Hawaii's Aureana Tseu made history as she competed at Miss USA ten years after competing at Miss Teen USA which is now the longest gap in history. She had a very toned, womanly body and a great red, cuffneck gown but some people didn't really like the way she was acting in a video shown on the Miss USA website where she and her roommate California's Carrie Prejean were seen dishing about a certain delegate's eating habits. Perhaps it was a loss in interview? New York's Tracey Chang appeared unique and cute but I guess they weren't going for her look this year. District of Columbia's Nicole White was said to have glowed in the preliminaries with her radiant skin and welcoming smile. She was also a former teen but I was fizzling on her. Florida's Anastagia Pierre had a really toned body and one of the popular sheer gowns this year with controlled presentation of body and hair but her facial features can appear wideset and my guess is that may have kept her out. Nebraska's Meagan Winings is yet another teen and I liked her at Miss Teen USA 2004 and hoped that she would return to the Miss USA stage but I guess she didn't to make enough of an impact. Finally, Illinois' Ashley Bond had great features overall and although not many people were talking about her, I noticed her but I guess she too needed to have more impact.



Winner=North Carolina-Kristen Dalton

Winner=California-Carrie Prejean*

1st Runner Up=California-Carrie Prejean

1st Runner Up=North Carolina-Kristen Dalton*

2nd Runner Up=Arizona-Alicia-Monique Blanco

2nd Runner Up=Rhode Island-Alysha Castonguay

3rd Runner Up=Utah-Laura Chukanov

3rd Runner Up=Utah-Laura Chukanov*

4th Runner Up=Kentucky-Maria Elizabeth Montgomery

4th Runner Up=Nevada-Georgina Vaughan



6. Texas-Brooke Daniels

Texas-Brooke Daniels*

7. Tennessee-Kristen Motil

Kansas-Courtney Courter

8. Arkansas-Chanley Painter

Hawaii-Aureana Tseu

9. South Carolina-Stephanie Smith

New York-Tracey Chang

10. West Virginia-Jessi Pierson

District of Columbia-Nicole White



11. Virginia-Maegan Phillips

Arizona-Alicia-Monique Blanco*

12. Minnesota-Erica Nego

Florida-Anastagia Pierre

13. Georgia-Kimberly Gittings

Nebraska-Meagan Winings

14. Idaho-Melissa Weber

Kentucky-Maria Elizabeth Montgomery*

15. Connecticut-Monika Pietrzak

Illinois-Ashley Bond


ALTERNATES:Tennessee*, Washington, Massachusetts, Georgia*, South Dakota


HONORABLE MENTIONS:Louisiana, Vermont, Maine, West Virginia*, Arkansas*


* = made actual top 15

Billy Bush and Nadine Velazquez hosted this year. Billy was fine as he normally is. He also hosted Miss USA and Universe 2003-2005. Nadine had her moments. She had some funny lines such as at the beginning when they were talking about this week being "green" week at NBC, Billy said Nadine was wearing a green gown with matching thong combo and when he caused the NBC logo to turn green, Nadine said, "My thong went away!" But then she said things like, "I want a swimsuit... and a baby." That came across as a little random and you couldn't really tell if that was written or adlibbed. Then before the final question, when Billy was explaining the bell to indicate the 20 second mark, she bopped Billy on the head so hard with her microphone that it made a loud sound. Billy went along with it and faked a bit of a swoon and Nadine said, "That was louder than expected!" "I let something out there." Another thing I liked was that they said the names of each of the delegates instead of just the state as has been done for the past few years. I think it is important to say names. For example, at Miss Teen USA 1997, J. Eddie Peck, twice called Miss North Dakota, Miss North Carolina by mistake. The choreography was looking better and pretty sassy this year. Apparently, long time choreographer Scott Grossman is gone and Kent Gregory Parham is in. As for the judges, they seemed to be a well rounded group and did a good job. Saturday Night Live is one of my favorite shows but Kenan Thompson, were you really wearing a hoodie?? The top 15 old style Vegas glam shots were fantastic and I especially loved the reincorporation of trip takes this year during the shoots and the pop up videos during evening gown. Anything that makes the pageant more like the 1990 to 1997 format is just excellent with me.

On to the swimsuit competition seeing the delegates wearing sexy bikinis from Jessica Simpson's swimwear line. Jessica and her ex Nick Lachey really seem to appreciate pageantry as both have performed at Miss Teen USA and Nick is even dating Miss Teen USA 1998, Vanessa Minnillo. The performer was Kevin Rudolf singing "Let it Rock". A good choice of song for swimsuit but when I listen to the single, his voice sounds so different/treated/electrified that it doesn't seem like it should be performed live. He probably should have lipsynched like the Veronicas did for evening gown... So first up was Kentucky showing off her long lean and supremely toned body and she looked great. Arkansas followed also looking thin and toned but perhaps not as strong facially. California was next looking really strong overall. Some reports speculate she got her implants a few months before the pageant so that's some pretty quick work! I was worried about West Virginia because her upper body has a bit of an odd shape but she was obviously told to keep her hands on her hips the entire time to mask this as much as possible and it certainly helped and her poses were looking great too. North Carolina breezed through with her angelic fresh features with such ease. A high score well deserved. Connecticut followed and as I said earlier, yes, she's tall but there's no spark. She also appears to be one who gained weight so I wasn't surprised that she received the lowest score. Tennessee narrowly fell out of my semifinalist list because she looked really thin and she still appeared quite thin but carried herself decently with bouncy hair. Top 15 of Miss USA 2009 in swimsuits Idaho was the shocker in this top 15 and you could see that with her I-just-stuck-my-finger-in-an-electric-socket hair and her sensuous gazes almost seemed to scream, 'That's right, bitches. I da ho...' She narrowly managed to edge ahead of Connecticut by 0.003. Arizona followed and she absolutely should be proud of those legs and her overall sex appeal made her a strong contender. Her hair was looking better than in preliminaries too. Georgia was quite busty but she too appeared too hefty and that encouraged the lower score. Utah looked fantastic with her lean body and striking Eastern European model looks. Minnesota had a little slip when coming down the stairs and this was one that others were talking about but I just couldn't see it. She didn't appear to be as strong facially and didn't have much in the bust area even though she was fairly lean but she too was cut in the round. She did remind me a bit of Claudia Jordan though. Texas followed looking just fine as is expected of a Texan delegate but I think she maybe could have tried something a little more. So South Carolina made it after all, eh? I didn't know the 'mom' look was in this year... Well, she did have a very toned body but her styling with the tan and short hair just screamed 50-year-old-trying-to-recapture-her-youth. Virginia followed also lacking spark and I don't think she was nearly as toned as she could have been. I also noticed a lot more mentioning of Twittering during the pageant. That was just one of the attempts to make Miss USA a little more with the times of the internet. Even the Miss USA website was totally refurbished bearing more of a similarity to YouTube and incorporating elements of other interactive sites.

After the top 10 was announced, we learned more about the delegates and then it was time for evening gowns set to "Untouched" by the Veronicas. I like the song but I don't think a band that is trying to make it should have one member risking offending people by wearing a shirt that says 'I hate your band'. I also liked seeing the delegates do the sassy snaps during the intro. Arizona was first and described her great exotic gown to match her exotic features covered with Swarovski crystals from head to toe with fringes of beads. California followed in a gown that was reminiscent of Miss USA 2003, Susie Castillo's gown meshed with Amanda Pennekamp's (1st runner up to Miss USA 2004) gown with the furry, billowy bottom, only more feathery with a more open slit. Yes, it was a great gown and it too was covered with Swarovski crystals. South Carolina followed and I'll admit I really liked this white metallic gown. It caught the light beautifully but this was as far as she would go. Kentucky had a really great gown and I probably should have known that she would place higher with this gown. The white chandelier crystals over the mesh center really topped it off and made this gown a winner. Utah followed in a bright yellow gown which is a color she chose on purpose to stand out but I have seen her in purple, brown and electric blue and I think those colors probably would have been even better. This gown seems a little more pageant than red carpet. In the pop up video, Kristen Dalton was describing a different white and gold that had been seen in earlier shots but she decided to wear the blue gown for finals which was absolutely a smart choice. It blended wonderfully with the background. I loved the flowiness of the gown and the color really complemented her eyes. The judges generously rewarded her with a high score. Arkansas did make it after all. Originally, I thought she was trying too hard giving us the dramatics with the gown like Miss Rhode Island USA 2004 but the bold red and hot pink blend really stood out but it was perhaps a little too strong. Texas followed in one of those sheer platinum gowns where you could see her legs and this style of gown was quite popular this year but for me, it was just okay. Brooke Daniels incidentally was 1st runner up to Crystle Stewart (the reigning Miss USA) at Miss Texas USA last year. No state has won two years in a row since Texas did the impossible and won 5 years in a row from 1985 to 1989. Interestingly enough, in 1989 when Gretchen Polhemus won Miss Texas USA, her first runner up Stephanie Kuehne went on to win the next year's Miss Texas USA crown but Stephanie broke the chain and only placed as a top 12 semifinalist at Miss USA 1990. I likened the Crystle/Brooke scenario to the Gretchen/Stephanie scenario and it turned out that my prediction was accurate as she made top 10 but not top 5. West Virginia has such a sweet face that you can't help but like her and the gown was decent but it didn't really help her figure and as a result, this became the cutting ground. Tennessee followed in a black mermaid-cut gown covered in crystals and she felt beautiful in it and it was a decent gown. Other people felt strongly about her but I think her placing was accurate.
Afterwards, we enjoyed seeing the first untelevised Miss Teen USA winner, Stevi Perry of Arkansas make her national TV debut announcing the winner of Miss Congeniality, which went to a very emotional teary-eyed delegate representing Wyoming. Then reigning Miss Universe, Dayana Mendoza announced that West Virginia had won photogenic which I thought was a very good pick.
Top 5 of Miss USA 2009Afterwards, the top 5 were announced and were called upon one by one to answer the casual question before the serious one. They were also reminded that anything they say can be found on YouTube like, as Nadine jokingly said, Billy Bush performing Les Mis, an indirect reference to Britain's Got Talent contestant Susan Boyle. First up, North Carolina was asked what makes her beautiful. She said, 'I think the way that I treat people and the way I make people feel. I think that's the most important thing and what people really remember about you and whether or not they remember you as a beautiful person.' A strong answer and very much like something that you should hear in a pageant. Arizona was asked how she got her nickname Daddy Long Legs to which she responded. 'Aye-aye-aye. I knew I could not escape this. When I was a little girl, I had really long skinny legs. I was very insecure about them and my cousin Junior, who is actually here, said, 'Look comes Daddy Long Legs!' Every time I walk into a room, the nickname has never left, it still exists and I'm proud of it now.' She answered it well but you could tell she was ready to answer that question. Utah followed and was asked to pronounce her very Bulgarian name. Her last name is pronounced like Chuckanoff but I thought it was more like Chookanov. Then, she was asked to talk about her program called Buddies Abroad. She said, 'Yes, this program is going to be a penpal program for kids all over the world. I know a few people that have had penpals while they were in elementary school and they still have those connections. They are able to travel all over the world and meet these penpals and I think this is a wonderful idea. I think every child should have this experience so that's what I wanna do.' She also answered well. California was then asked to tell us about her passion for, I mean basketball. She replied in an engaging manner saying, 'I know it's hard to believe but I actually am a basketball player. I got a scholarship to play basketball in college and it's one of my passions so I enjoy it every now and then, filling in for intramurals but this is definitely a better part of my life, is pageantry.' Billy then asked what her position was. For marriage or... er, I mean Forward or Guard? Carrie replied, 'I'm actually an outside shooter. I got a pretty good 3 point shot.' So yes, Carrie was cool and the crown totally could have been hers...had it all stopped here... Finally, Kentucky was vallely asked...(That's a word, right? Vallely? If not, I'm coining it. Vallely means done like a valley girl). So Nadine vallely asked Kentucky what she looks for in a man. She replied, 'Well, of course, looks are very important in any man. However, I would have to be sweet here and say that maybe he should have to be like my dad who is encouraging, supporting, and behind me everystep of the way because I have so many dreams in life that I'll need support for.' It was also very well answered but maybe it's because she said looks first that Utah edged ahead of her in the final rankings because Kentucky was actually 4th after swimsuit and evening gown and Utah was 5th.
Kristen Dalton wins Miss USA 2009 Kristen Dalton wins Miss USA 2009 Now, it was time for the final question. After Nadine notoriously bopped Billy on the head with her microphone, North Carolina was called forwarded and she selected judge Kelly Monaco. She asked, 'Do you believe that taxpayers' money should be used to bail out struggling U.S. companies? Why or why not? After taking a beat to really think about this one, Kristen responded in saying, 'That's a tough one. No, taxpayers' money should go towards bettering our education in our school systems and welfare and the health care systems and that's what taxpayers' money should go to. Absolutely. So, this was the clincher. Kristen sealed the deal. She won swimsuit and evening gown and handled this question remarkably well. Next up Arizona chose Kenan Thompson who asked her, 'Do you think the U.S. should have universal health care as a rite of citizenship? Why or why not?' Then Arizona responded with a response that was probably almost as YouTubed as California's notorious answer. Arizona said, 'You know what? I think this is an issue of integrity regardless of which end of the political spectrum that I stand on. I've been raised in a family to know right from wrong and politics whether or not you fall in the middle, the left or the right, it's an issue of integrity. Whatever your opinion is and I say that with the...utmost conviction.' Okay, no you did not just give us a canned, pre-prepared answer that you thought would cover all your bases regardless of whatever the question was. It's nice to be prepared and such but pretty much everyone caught that she didn't answer the question and I'm pretty sure she heard the question. I understand that maybe she wanted to be careful not to take sides but yes, this answer was mocked on a few talk shows and showed that it wasn't really handled well. Next up was Utah and she picked Claudia Jordan's question, 'Hillary Clinton announced last month that the U.S. is pledging 40 million dollars to help Afghanistan hold elections in their country. With out country in recession, is this the right thing to do?' Utah responded with great presence of mind saying, 'I think it is the right thing to do. I think we started out trying to help other countries. That's part of the goal our nation so I think definitely, we should help other countries have fair elections.' Next up was that question from Perez Hilton posed to Miss California. I'm not going to repeat it here but Billy Bush asked Perez right before the question if we should be worried and in a sinister voice, Perez replied, 'You should be' and then preceded to ask the question. Perez apparently wouldn't reveal what his question was to the other judges. According to what I heard, he only revealed it to Miss Universe president, Paula Shugart and she approved it. Same sex marriage is obviously an issue that many people feel strongly about and Carrie Prejean is now using this opportunity to publicize herself in the circles of people that support her views but I'm interested to see where the Carrie Prejean saga goes. Finally, Kentucky selected Brian Graden's question. 'Recently, the alleged domestic violent situation involving Chris Brown and Rihanna generated a lot of headlines and a lot of young women across America had many questions. As Miss USA, would you have spoken out and what would you have said?' Kentucky showed remarkable poise particularly being one of the younger contestants in answering, 'I would most definitely speak out about any kind of violence within a relationship whether it's dating or between your family because that is one of the things that can tear someone up mentally and physically and there is no excuse for it at all times.'
Kristen Dalton with Donald Trump and Miss Universe 2008, Dayana MendozaAs the finale approached, reigning Miss USA, Crystle Stewart looked exquisite in a navy blue gown with a very covered front but very open back and I liked how she was okay with discussing her notorious fall at Miss Universe and how she helped others to overcome with her example. She was also very humble in mentioning that she had tried several times to win Miss Texas USA before taking the crown that was so rightfully hers and I liked her mom's words that the race does not go to the swift but to the one that endures.
You probably noticed that there was a different crown again this year. In 2003, the star studded crown was retired in exchange for the Mikimoto pearl crown but now Diamond Nexus Labs is the new crown sponsor for the Miss Universe family of pageants and I guess in this new era, we will be seeing several sponsored crowns in years to come. Have you noticed though that most of the state pageants still keep the original crowns that we know and love?
Had there been more emphasis in the answering of the final question, Utah and Kentucky probably would have placed higher but when it came down to the final rankings, oddly enough, it was as if the final question didn't have any impact. When you look at it, that was probably the only thing to do because there was a lot going on in the final round of questions and it seemed that it just came down to earlier impressions. Kentucky fell from 4th to 5th and Utah emerged from 5th place to 4th place, Arizona got 2nd runner up and I'm sure with California still up there that a few of the judges were quite steamed at that moment when the final two stood together but as California was declared 1st runner up and North Carolina captured the crown, I'm sure that most people would agree that this was a good winner and I certainly think that Kristen is a fabulous Miss USA. As the daughter of Miss North Carolina USA 1982, Jeannine Boger and sister of Julia Dalton who was 2nd runner up at Miss Teen USA 2008, beauty and pageantry clearly runs in the family of Miss USA 2009. With excellent fresh, All-American good looks, Kristen is incredibly photogenic. The camera loves her and she doesn't have a bad angle. Not only does she have heavenly presentation and star quality but she came into this pageant very prepared and it clearly showed that she worked towards this lifelong goal of hers and she applied her knowledge of pageantry extremely well. Congratulations Miss USA 2009, Kristen Dalton of North Carolina! Only four years later, the top two of 2005 repeats itself!


 Carrie Prejean is dethroned and replaced as Miss California USA.



Some photos courtesy Miss Universe L.P., LLLP