THOUGHTS OF MISS USA

2013


Erin Brady of Connecticut is crowned Miss USA 2013 by Nana Meriwether, Miss USA 2012

Congratulations to Miss USA 2013, Connecticut's Erin Brady. Erin makes history in two ways tonight. Not only is she the first Miss USA winner from Connecticut but this is also the first time in history that Miss USA has come from the same state as the reigning Miss Teen USA! Logan West, Miss Teen USA 2012 is also from Connecticut and for a time, it seemed like Miss USA would never come from the same state as the reigning Miss Teen USA. This almost happened in 1996 when Kansas' Danielle Boatwright finished 1st runner up to Miss USA 1996, Ali Landry of Louisiana. At that time, the reigning Miss Teen USA 1995, Keylee Sue Sanders was also from Kansas so it almost seemed as if it was a hex to be from the same state as the reigning Miss USA but Erin Brady broke the hex!

Guiliana Rancic holds the microphone for Miss Utah USA, Marissa Powell as she answers her question Past pageant contestants who had notable pageant question flubs: Dawn Renee Huey-Miss Delaware Teen USA 1995, Larissa Meek-Miss Missouri USA 2001, Lauren Caitlin Upton-Miss South Carolina Teen USA 2007, Audrey Bolte-Miss Ohio USA 2012 The news of this pageant though was when my pick for the win, Utah's Marissa Powell, messed up the answer to her final question and it went viral and was featured on practically every talk show and news shows also so Marissa Powell may end up getting more publicity because of this. She is already making the media rounds appearing on various shows explaining herself and reanswering the question. In this era of YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and other forms of social media, it seems like failures go viral instantaneously and Marissa was the latest to gain exposure for this. I question how this will determine how future contestants answer questions. Many people likened this answer to how Miss South Carolina Teen USA 2007, Lauren Caitlin Upton answered her final question piecing together some incoherent ramblings and hoping it would all work out in the end. Last year, Ohio's Audrey Bolte was all over the media for quoting "Pretty Woman" (a movie about a man who buys a prostitute) as a movie that depicts women in a positive way and of course, there were other delegates in the past who escaped this social media era so their moments are not as well known such as Dawn Renee Huey, Miss Delaware Teen USA 1995 and Larissa Meek, Miss Missouri USA 2001.

On to the pageant itself. The Original airing of Miss USA had lower ratings this year largely because it was up against an NBA finals game on another channel but it has been announced that Miss USA 2014 to 2016 are slated to be held in Miami, Florida which has hosted numerous pageants over the years. And of course, Telemundo will be having a new reality show called 'Miss Latina USA' to pick a second delegate for Miss Universe 2013 to represent the USA who is of Latin descent. Although, some have questioned the fairness of recognizing one ethnic group over others like why not have a Miss Asian USA or Miss African USA and so forth. But, it's all in the name of business, right? Miss Universe 2013 was also announced to held at Crocus City Hall in Moscow, Russia on November 9. By a very odd twist of fate, the new Miss USA, Erin Brady was originally supposed to be married to her fiancÚ, Tony Capasso, on that very day (November 9) but of course, her marriage will have to be postponed until she completes her reign! The lighting effects were pretty stellar this year. Like in the intros, when it went to the music and also when it was down to the final 2 and the camera did a turn around the top 2 as the lights dimmed slightly. It was a nice aesthetic incorporation for this pageant. The introduction was great featuring the delegates descending stairs hearing a recording of theme stating their name and state to the songs 'Don't Stop the Party' by Pitbull and '#thatPower' by Will.I.Am featuring Justin Bieber.

As for the hosts, Guiliana Rancic was great as usual whereas Nick Jonas seemed very inexperienced and was just more-or-less going through the motions which made me miss Andy Cohen because he was very enthusiastic and had more chemistry with Guiliana. Oh, well. Maybe next year.

ACTUAL TOP 15

MY PREDICTIONS

Winner=Connecticut-Erin Brady

Winner=Utah-Marissa Powell*

1st Runner Up=Alabama-Mary Margaret McCord

1st Runner Up=Illinois-Stacie Juris*

2nd Runner Up=Illinois-Stacie Juris

2nd Runner Up=Nevada-Chelsea Caswell*

3rd Runner Up=Utah-Marissa Powell

3rd Runner Up=Alabama-Mary Margaret McCord*

4th Runner Up=Texas-Alexandria (Ali) Nugent

4th Runner Up=Kentucky-Allie Leggett

5th Runner Up=South Carolina-Megan Pinckney

5th Runner Up=Virginia-Shannon McAnally

FINALISTS (alpha'l)

FINALISTS

Louisiana-Kristen Girault

South Carolina-Megan Pinckney*

Nevada-Chelsea Caswell

Colorado-Amanda Wiley

North Carolina-Ashley Love-Mills

Tennessee-Brenna Mader

Ohio-Kristin Smith

Maryland-Kasey Staniszewski*

SEMIFINALISTS (alpha'l)

SEMIFINALISTS

California-Mabelynn Capeluj

West Virginia-Chelsea Welch*

Maryland-Kasey Staniszewski

Washington-Cassandra Searles

Massachusetts-Sarah Kidd

North Carolina-Ashley Love-Mills*

Pennsylvania-Jessica Billings

Georgia-Brittany Sharp

West Virginia-Chelsea Welch

Texas-Alexandria (Ali) Nugent*

(No 16th semifinalist)

Florida-Michelle Aguirre

 

ALTERNATES:California*, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Connecticut*, New Jersey

 

HONORABLE MENTIONS:Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio*, Louisiana*, Arkansas

 

* = made actual top 16

The top 15 So how did I do with my predictions this year? I predicted 9 of the top 15 plus 2 alternates (This year's winner Connecticut as well as California) and 2 honorable mentions (Louisiana and Ohio). The two surprises that missed my list entirely were "MA and PA" (Massachusetts and Pennsylvania). Isn't that something?? What happened to my delegates that didn't place? First, was Kentucky's Allie Leggett who I suspect may have not done as well in interview but she did have a great long, lean body and overall look. Virginia's Shannon McAnally was a favorite but she may have suffered from the statehopper curse as she did compete in other state pageants like Texas and Florida before finally winning in Virginia. Her hairstyle in the gown competition came across as a bit much and a lot of people thought, it would have been better if she kept her hair down. Colorado's Amanda Wiley was one of my faves as you know, I loved her hair but her gown could have been better. She was also very fit and reminded me a lot of former semifinalist, Miss Washington USA 1998, Natasha Van Tramp. Tennessee's Brenna Mader was previously Miss Wyoming Teen USA 2005 and went unplaced at both pageants and unfortunately she also broke the streak that Tennessee had in the semifinals. The last time Tennessee went unplaced was 2005. Some thought she had a bit of a hard look to her but I liked her feathery hairstyle and she did have a great body and strong interview skills. Washington's Cassandra Searles wowed in the preliminary gown competition with how she worked her gown and sometimes this is rewarded but not in this case. Georgia's Brittany Sharp was also expected to do well and she had a great body and gown but somehow her performance seemed to just fall flat. I picked Florida as the 16th delegate in my list since I wasn't aware there was only a top 15 this year. Florida was also a strong oddsmakers pick but she was more favored by others but I thought her body was a bit on the wiry side so I actually wasn't surprised that she didn't place. This year, there were some unexpected twists. They reverted back to a top 15 this year when there was a top 16 in 2011 and 2012. Also, after the top 5 were announced, a 6th delegate was saved and she was selected by whoever got the most votes on Twitter and that delegate was Texas so the top 10 were cut to a top 6! There hasn't been a cut to a top 6 since 1997.

Other interesting factoids include that the top 4 of Miss USA 2013 were all 1st runner ups at their state pageants in a previous year! Erin Brady was 1st runner up to Miss Connecticut USA 2012, Marie Lynn Piscitelli and then Erin won Miss Connecticut USA the next year. Mary Margaret McCord was also 1st runner up to Miss Alabama USA 2012, Katherine Webb (who we saw sitting next to Donald Trump during the telecast). Utah's Marissa Powell was 1st runner up to Miss Utah USA 2012, Kendyl Bell and Illinois' Stacie Juris was 1st runner up to Miss Illinois USA 2011, Angela Sparrow. Strangely enough, Connecticut and Utah didn't even place last year but Alabama did make the top 10 last year. Illinois didn't place in 2011 or 2012 so it just goes to show that anything can happen. Even Miss USA 2012, Nana Meriwether mentioned that she had experienced losses at the state level as have many other previous titleholders so one should learn to never just give up but persevere. Also, the 3 women who previously placed in the top 5 at Miss Teen USA were eliminated early. Georgia's Brittany Sharp was 4th runner up to Miss Teen USA 2006 but didn't place this year. Maryland's Kasey Staniszewski was 3rd runner up to Miss Teen USA 2009 and West Virginia's Chelsea Welch was 4th runner up to Miss Teen USA 2007 but both Maryland and West Virginia placed in the top 15 but were eliminated in the first round whereas South Carolina's Megan Pinckney (who went unplaced at Miss Teen USA 2010) and Illinois' Stacie Juris (who went unplaced at Miss Teen USA 2009) both ended up making the top 5 at Miss USA 2013 so instead of the revenge of the runners-up, it was more like the revenge of the unplaced! Also, the winners of Miss USA 2011, 2012 and 2013 were all the 14th delegate called into the semifinals! Quelle coincidence!
Texas, Ohio, Louisiana, South Carolina, Pennsylvania, Alabama, Massachusetts, California, North Carolina, West Virginia, Maryland, Illinois, Nevada, Connecticut, Utah
After the top 16 were announced, it was on to the swimsuit competition. To a live performance of "Pom Poms", "Neon" and "First Time" by the Jonas Brothers, the ladies worked it out. Texas came out first and although Ali Nugent was more of a surprise winner of the most competitive state that has won the most Miss USA crowns (9 in total), she did have an aura about her and although, it didn't fully come across during preliminaries, I think she impressed in interviews. Ohio's Kristin Smith was next and I was happy to see her place because she was more of a natural beauty but her performance in the preliminaries caused her to fall on my list to the honorable mentions category as she has a smaller frame to her body and her gown was questionable. She did give a great performance during the swimsuit round. Louisiana followed and seemed really confident. I didn't think her body was quite as good as some of the others but she did manage to advance to the top 10. South Carolina has a really great body and a fresh face so I was glad to see her do well. Pennsylvania was a major surprise this year. Obviously, she wasn't going to advance past this round but I think her inclusion was meant to be a dig at last year's Pennsylvanian rep, Sheena Monnin, who alleged that last year's top 5 was predetermined after claiming she heard another delegate say she saw a list but that delegate, Florida's Karina Brez said it must have been a rehearsal list and that it did not match the top 5. Alabama's Mary Margaret McCord has a great body and overall look and she really was a favorite this year so it was no surprise to see her do so well. Massachusetts was the other surprise delegate but I suspect that she may have won the Internet vote. Like at Miss Universe 2012, the winner of the Internet vote was never announced as it had been in the past which I wish at least a background commentator like Jeannie Mai would do but I guess they want to keep it secret. I didn't think Massachusetts quite had the body or look of a semifinalist and she was eliminated in the first round. California was up next and this girl worked her sarong. I loved how she flared it out. I thought she looked a bit like Selena Gomez and that look may have helped her get a spot but the judges chose not to advance her. Next up was North Carolina who had a really defined body but this girl has really strong stage presence. You just can't help but notice her when she is on stage and I'm sure that's what helped her in this competition. West Virginia followed and a lot of people really liked her as she came across a nice, pretty girl with that approachability factor but it just wasn't meant to be as she was eliminated in the first round. Also, did you notice that she walked the stage again with the Jonas Brothers playing in the background? The Jonas Brothers also performed during Miss Teen USA 2007 where Chelsea Welch also competed as Miss West Virginia Teen USA that year. Maryland was very defined but I think she might have looked a bit too thin which may have kept her from advancing to the next round. Illinois was tall and confident with a great body and overall look. Nevada looked gorgeous also with a nice body and those piercing blue eyes and long blonde hair. Connecticut followed looking decent. I think her body was just okay whereas others seemed to have really worked-out harder but she has a serenity about her. Finally, Utah had the it factor written all over her and it was really looking like she would do it. She has a phenomenal body with perfect styling and those eyes really just gave her that character. I think the judging for swimsuit was decent. I might have picked California, Maryland and West Virginia to advance perhaps over Connecticut, Louisiana and Ohio. Utah won Miss Photogenic which was the best pick absolutely! Oregon's Gabrielle Neilan won Miss Congeniality which makes it two special award wins in a row for Oregon and it was very touching to see Gabrielle become so emotional and teary-eyed over winning that award as she is currently battling thyroid cancer.
Connecticut, South Carolina, Ohio, Texas, Illinois, Nevada, Louisiana, Utah, Alabama, North Carolina
As the 15 were cut to 10, it was on to the evening gown competition. I love the evening gown song as well which was "Sweet Nothing" by Calvin Harris featuring Florence Welch. It began with Connecticut. This gown I found quite unflattering actually. I don't think the side-train helped her figure but the judges liked her and chose to advance her to the top 5. South Carolina's gown was exquisite. I always have loved liquid beaded gowns. Ohio followed in a yellow gown which was definitely several steps up from her discouraging preliminary gown but it wasn't enough to advance her to the next round. Texas followed in an intricately designed gown by renowned Venezuelan designer Gionni Straccia. I just wished she had chosen a different color than red because it just seemed like the wrong color for this gown to me. Illinois' gown was elegant but I thought she would pick something different somehow but she did work this gown and the open back was a nice touch. I liked Nevada's classic shiny, black gown with the side slit for the leg to come out. I probably would have advanced Nevada over Connecticut. Louisiana's gown also had a really nice design but it accentuated her hips so this was as far as she would go. Utah's white gown with sheer material at the legs was also magnificent. She looked every inch a queen and I was so happy to see her deliver a strong performance in this round. Alabama also had a really nice black gown with the flared bottom which really helps to stand out on stage but her style and sophistication with the emerald earrings really made her a top contender. Finally, North Carolina had one of those dreadful panty gowns and although, her stage presence is stellar, it wasn't enough to get her through to the next round.

The top 6And then it was down to the top 5... or so we thought but this year, they incorporated a Twitter save and so it became a top 6 with the inclusion of Texas as the winner of the Twitter vote. Before the final question, there was a casual question and answer session with the delegates. First up was Utah's Marissa Powell who was asked why she is an advocate for adoption. She said that her little brother was adopted and so was her dad and so she really advocates for adoption so it's really important to her. It's dear to her heart and feels it's a great option and feels her family wouldn't really be complete without her little brother sitting in the audience in his tuxedo and she sent a shout out to her brother, Justin and said she loves him wherever he was in the audience. Alabama was asked to explain why she packs her bags in a certain way since she is so organized. She said she is a little OCD when she packs and she thinks she gets that from her dad. She said she had bags inside of bags inside of bags and each bag was categorized so she had a nail polish bag, a bathroom bag, a shoe bag and so when she got there, she knew where everything was and was very organized. Illinois was asked about her family's annual egg cracking contest. She said she had a feeling that would come up. Every Easter, every member of her family decorates an egg and they take turns standing in a line cracking each other's egg and whoever ends up with the uncracked egg is the winner and there were tricks in the past with clear nail polish and it gets pretty crazy but it's a lot of fun. South Carolina passed out toys with Marines on Christmas and was asked to talk about that. She said on Christmas morning, she woke up at 5 a.m. and went throughout her hometown to pass out toys to children and it was really special because most of those kids had woken up to no toys and it was nice to see and it was really nice to see their faces when she was able to give them toys but what really touched her heart was seeing the faces of the parents and seeing how grateful and thankful they were for all the donations. Connecticut said the rise of social media is challenging for young people and what asked what she meant by that. She thinks unfortunately everybody today has just resorted to tweeting or sending text messaging and she thinks that verbal communication is something that everyone is lacking and she's says she's a people person so she knows she'd rather shake your hand and have a conversation rather than send a text. She said, 'That's just me'. This was actually the perfect thing for Erin to say especially to get the job of Miss USA which requires meeting and talking with people regularly so I think this is the part where she really set herself apart and her delivery was also very confident. Erin is very well-spoken. Finally, Texas was asked about the time she met Jamie Foxx. She said she had never been star-struck before in her life by anyone and she was in Washington giving away a home to a wounded soldier. She paired up with Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas to give a home away. She was in a little corridor backstage and he walked right in the door right in front of her and she was speechless and she had nothing else to say other than, 'Can I take a picture with you?' and she said he agreed to do that and he was so nice and also from Texas.

Connecticut picks her questionAfter the little warmup session, it was time to face the judges and up first was Utah with the now famous question and answer that I'm sure you've heard multiple times already but here it is again. Nene Leakes asked Utah, "A recent report shows that in 40 percent of families with children, women are the primary earners yet women continue to earn less than men. What does this say about society?" Marissa's response was, "I think we can relate this back to education and how we are continuing to try to strive... to (pause) figure out how to create jobs right now. That is the biggest problem and I think especially the men are, um, seen as the leaders of this and so we need to try to figure out how to create education better so that we can solve this problem. Thank you." This was actually a really easy question and she could have said something to the effect of this statistic shows that the fight for equality is still ongoing. Obviously, I was heartbroken after hearing this answer coming from my winner because I knew they couldn't give her the crown after this answer. I was having flashbacks of Dawn Renee Huey (Miss Delaware Teen USA 1995) and Larissa Meek (Miss Missouri USA 2001) who also had similar issues with answering their judge's questions in their years. Larissa Meek was my predicted winner for Miss USA 2001 and Marissa Powell was my predicted winner for Miss USA 2013 so it's quite a coincidence that Larissa and Marissa rhyme and that both probably would have won Miss USA if it hadn't been for a flub at the judge's question round. After the pageant, Marissa said she didn't quite hear the question which is why it is really important to focus and as former Miss Universe, Lara Dutta said 'It's important about being in the moment, focusing, keeping your mind open to listen to the question and giving out your answer from your gut and I think that really counts.' Marissa said she even saw Nene Leakes shake her head a bit at her while she was answering it and there was no turning back so she just had to get it out. I think she probably tried to incorporate an answer that she had prepared and hoped it would all piece together but going up first is always a challenge and that moment is a pressure cooker when the eyes of everyone are on you and Marissa was probably aware that she was predicted to be the winner by lots of people including myself so it can be overwhelming but everyone has had those moments when they didn't quite answer a question to the best of their ability but she can now look back at it and laugh and use this opportunity to make a name for herself. Since Marissa is a singer, she was asked to sing this answer to the tune of 'America the Beautiful' on Jimmy Kimmel Live and she did it impeccably! I wish Marissa all the best and hope everything turns out well for her. Alabama was next. Wendie Malick asked her, "Government tracking of phone records has been in the news lately. Is this an invasion of privacy or necessary to keep our country safe? Why or why not?" Alabama answered, "I think the society that we live in today it's sad that if we go to the movies or to the airport or even to the mall that we have to worry about our safety. So I would rather someone track my telephone messages and feel safe wherever I go than feel like they're, um, encroaching on my privacy." This was a decent answer. Maybe not quite as confident as it could have been but she expressed her opinion well. Next Illinois was asked by Bob Harper, "Due to the problem of binge drinking on college campuses, a growing number of college presidents are encouraging lawmakers to lower the drinking age. Do you agree that this will promote responsible drinking? Why or why not?" Illinois answered, "I think if you're going to drink irresponsibly, you're going to do so whether you're 18, 19, 20 or 21. Um, I think it's important to continue to encourage our um, youth to be responsible and drink responsibly and look out for the safety of those around them as well as themselves." This was also a good answer. The delivery could have had a bit more energy but she did get her point across well. South Carolina was asked by Christina Milian, "Should people who leak classified documents in the name of public information be charged with treason? Why or why not?" South Carolina answered, "I don't believe that they should be charged with treason. Personally, I think that being a part of this country, we have been given specific documents for specific reasons. Our lawmakers have put that into their decision for certain reasons and if we feel the need to have to show those documents then I think that we should show them." Maybe she would have done well to mention Edward Snowden somewhere in this answer but unfortunately it came across as if she wasn't fully aware of what this question was about. Erin Brady-Miss USA 2013 Olivia Culpo-Miss Universe 2012, Erin Brady-Miss USA 2013, Logan West-Miss Teen USA 2012 Connecticut was asked by Mo Rocca, "The Supreme Court ruled that criminal suspects can be subjected to a police DNA test after arrest. Do you agree or disagree with this and Why or why not?" Connecticut answered, "I would agree with this. I think that if somebody's being prosecuted and has committed a crime that's that severe that they should have a DNA test. I think there are so many crimes going on in this world that if that's one step closer to figuring out who has done it, I think we should absolutely do so." Connecticut had a much more confident delivery of her answer and sounded informed whereas the others sounded somewhat unsure or had tired delivery so again, she really set herself apart here and showed a level of maturity that the others seemed to lack. Texas was asked by Betsey Johnson, "In a recent beauty pageant, bikinis were banned amid protests from religious groups. As someone who competed in a swimsuit tonight, do you believe such groups should have that influence? Why or why not?" Texas answered, "I think we live in a country where we have freedoms that people around the world don't and we have the ability to vote for things we agree with and vote against things we don't agree with. I personally am very confident with myself and I feel perfectly fine being up here in front of millions of people in a swimsuit but I absolutely agree with those people, they have the right to stand up and vote against whatever they feel is not necessary." I think Texas answered this question very well and probably could have even taken the crown but the final vote is based on overall impression taking the final answer into consideration so since she was identified as the delegate saved by the Twitter vote that it worked against her and she ended up placing as 4th runner up but if she wasn't identified as the Twitter save, she probably would have placed a lot higher. This question I'm sure also referred to the rival Miss World pageant which is being held in Indonesia in September this year and the swimsuit portion won't be included in the final show but I think they may end up doing a private judging behind closed doors. In summary, I think today's pageant contestants would do well to study pageants from the 90s when there was a lot more emphasis on interview skills because in today's pageants, the speaking skills of the contestants have become progressively worse and I would like to see a year where contestants are more challenging in the final round. I felt Connecticut really broke away from the pack after the final question round and that Texas also did quite well in interview.

The top 6 did their final look as Pauly D from the show 'Jersey Shore' who has since become a DJ played his song, "Back to Love". It was great to see some of the delegates really get into it and show off their fun side. Nana Meriwether looked sensational in that big red gown as she said her farewell. And then it was the moment of truth. The 5th runner up was South Carolina's Megan Pinckney. The 4th runner up was Texas' Ali Nugent who had the Twitter vote to thank for that although Ali's interview skills were strong so I actually thought she would place a bit higher than this. The 3rd runner up was Utah's Marissa Powell and the fact that she got this position despite blowing her answer tells me that she probably could have won if her final answer was better. The 3rd runner up was Illinois' Stacie Juris and then the dramatic dimmed lights were cued as a 360 degree camera pan was done around the top 2 and it was declared that Connecticut's Erin Brady had done it and captured the crown whereas Alabama's Mary Margaret McCord was 1st runner up. Erin Brady worked long hours as a waitress to put herself through college after leaving home at age 18. I think the main thing that caused me to place her as an alternate in my predictions list was that in her Road to Miss USA 2013 crown, she had slight bags under her eyes but this girl has worked hard to get where she is. She also had to deal with her parents' divorce and her father's alcoholism while taking her younger sister under her wing so this has matured her tremendously and made her a more professional type and her grandmother calls her a born leader.

Since Miss Universe will be held in Russia, this makes Olivia Culpo the first of the 8 Miss Universes from the USA that is not crowning her successor on American soil! Miss Universe 2013 will be in Moscow, Russia at the Crocus City Hall on November 9 so we shall see how Erin does in that competition!





The Prethoughts for Miss USA 2013


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Some photos courtesy Miss Universe L.P., LLLP