Georgia-Tiana GriggsPrincess TianaNia Sanchez as BellePrincess Tiana was almost there. She was almost there. People would have come from everywhere. She was almost there.
Naturally, I was very much hoping for the fairytale to come true for Georgia’s Tiana Griggs and she literally was ‘almost there’ having to settle for 2nd runner up at Miss USA 2014. For those who did read my prethoughts for Miss USA 2014, I was struck by an epiphany I had that there were some powerful parallels that I drew from Georgia’s Tiana Griggs competing for Miss USA and the Disney film, ‘The Princess and the Frog’ whose main character is also named Tiana. As she posted on her facebook page on March 13, Tiana’s father passed away just like in the film where Tiana’s father passes away as she enters adulthood. Georgia has never won the crown but has several runner-up placements and this past year has seen a former Miss USA, Kenya Moore achieve a Gone-With-the-Wind-Fabulous resurgence in her career by starring in the ‘Real Housewives of Atlanta’ which is set in Georgia and finally, this year’s pageant happened to be held in Louisiana which is also where ‘The Princess and the Frog’ is set! All of these signs pointed straight to Tiana Griggs which led me to firmly place her as my predicted winner. Even if the fairytale didn’t quite come true for Tiana, I have no doubt that great things are in store for this phenomenal woman. She did win her state crown and 2nd runner up at nationals is an amazing achievement in itself so Tiana’s place is in Tiana’s palace. What’s ironic about all of this is that Nevada’s Nia Sanchez who won the crown actually worked as a Disney princess internationally like in Hong Kong dressing up as various Disney characters as pictured here, we see Nia dressed as Belle from ‘Beauty and the Beast’ so it looks like the Disney princess technically did win after all!

This very competitive year saw a change in format as for the first time in history, Miss USA became a 3 hour telecast. Since 1972, the Miss USA pageant was normally 2 hours long and some speculate that the reason for this new length was that it was competing with the Tony Awards and an NBA game on other networks so NBC opted to extend the length of the pageant to go head-to-head and although, the ratings weren’t necessarily higher than the other two events, Miss USA did see a 8 percent increase in viewers compared to last year’s telecast so that is a vast improvement. There was also an increase in the number of semifinalists. Nia Sanchez with Judges for Miss USA 2014 Miss USA had 20 semifinalists chosen this year for the first time in Miss USA history. Miss Universe 2006 was the only other pageant in the Miss Universe family of pageants to have 20 semifinalists. This year also adapted a drawn out announcement of the semifinalists. They were announced in groups and after each delegate was called, a vignette played for the audience to get to know them better which was a great idea as the formal semifinalist interview competition has been gone since Miss Universe 2000. This is a similar format used in many other modern reality shows like American Idol and shows of that sort so it seems to be a format that works and is a good way for the semifinalists to tell their stories and therefore become more relatable to viewers and people will have more reasons to root for a delegate.

The night began with a patriotic opening and the music chosen for this telecast was very Americana. The pageant was ‘Leaving Las Vegas’ after hosting Miss USA every year since 2008 and even hosting two Miss Universe pageants in 2010 and 2012 so Nevada winning this year was almost like a thank you to Las Vegas, Nevada for hosting multiple pageants. Las Vegas passed the baton as this year’s pageant was hosted in Baton Rouge, Louisiana which also hosted Miss Teen USA 2005 whose winner, Allie Laforce was also a judge this year. Louisiana last hosted the Miss USA pageant in 1998 and this year’s pageant was a competition of 1998 proportions which I will get to later. The background and set design was excellent this year. I loved the introductions starting with each delegate holding then removing their Mardi Gras masks to reveal their faces and say their introduction. Maryland’s delegate unfortunately forgot to remove her mask likely due to nervousness and it was mocked on various comedy shows.

The hosts did a great job this year. Thomas Roberts returned after his stint hosting Miss Universe 2013 and Guiliana Rancic returns again and her enthusiasm really adds to the pageant. Jeannie Mai also returned as color commentator. This year’s judges were announced in a different way this year. Each one was revealed from backstage and joined the other delegates on stage before taking their seats. The judges were announced in this order: Rumer Willis (Bruce Willis and Demi Moore’s daughter), Karl Malone, Ian Ziering (of Beverly Hills 90210 fame), Allie Laforce (Miss Teen USA 2005), Dolvett Quince, Randy Couture, Barbara Palacios Teyde (Miss Universe 1986 who looked stunning), Melissa Peterman and Lance Bass (of N SYNC who also judged Miss America last year).



Winner=Nevada-Nia Sanchez

Winner=Georgia-Tiana Griggs*

1st Runner Up=North Dakota-Audra Mari

1st Runner Up=Tennessee-Kristy Landers Niedenfuer*

2nd Runner Up=Georgia-Tiana Griggs

2nd Runner Up=North Dakota-Audra Mari*

3rd Runner Up=Louisiana-Brittany Guidry

3rd Runner Up=Florida-Brittany Oldehoff*

4th Runner Up=Florida-Brittany Oldehoff

4th Runner Up=South Carolina-Christina Zapolski*

5th Runner Up=Iowa-Carlyn Bradarich

5th Runner Up=Utah-Angelia Layton

FINALISTS (alpha'l)


California-Cassandra Kunze

Alabama-Jesica Ahlberg*

Maryland-Taylor Burton

Nevada-Nia Sanchez*

South Carolina-Christina Zapolski

Colorado-Eleanna Livaditis

Wisconsin-Bishara Dorre

Minnesota-Haley O'Brien*



Alabama-Jesica Ahlberg

California-Cassandra Kunze*

Arizona-Jordan Wessel

Louisiana-Brittany Guidry*

Indiana-Mekayla Diehl

Pennsylvania-Valerie Gatto*

Minnesota-Haley O'Brien

New Jersey-Emily Shah*

Nebraska-Amanda Soltero

Texas-Lauren Guzman

New Jersey-Emily Shah

Wisconsin-Bishara Dorre*

Oklahoma-Brooklynne Young

Illinois-Lexi Atkins

Pennsylvania-Valerie Gatto

New York-Candace Kendall

Tennessee-Kristy Landers Niedenfuer

Ohio-Madison Gesiotto

Virginia-Arielle Rosmarino

Massachusetts-Caroline Lunny


ALTERNATES:Michigan, Missouri, Arkansas, Iowa*, Oklahoma*


HONORABLE MENTIONS:Maryland*, Hawaii, Nebraska*, North Carolina, Indiana*


* = made actual top 20

So how did I do with my predictions? Well, I got 13 of the 20 semifinalists plus 2 alternates and 3 honorable mentions. The ladies that escaped my list were Virginia and Arizona. Arizona just barely escaped my list though. When I was deciding on who to pick for my last honorable mentions spot, I was debating on Indiana and Arizona and wouldn’t you know, both of them placed! Virginia was totally out of nowhere though but the other semifinalists made sense so I was okay with this year’s list. This was quite a competitive year so there could have been any number of outcomes. What happened to the 7 ladies in my list that didn’t place? First up was Utah and this absolutely stunning girl, Angelia Layton was pretty much the most popular semifinalist to not place this year as she was on most lists. She was 3rd runner up at Miss Teen USA 2010 and also competed in the CBS reality show ‘Survivor: Philippines’ so maybe NBC who co-owns Miss USA didn’t like that she starred on a CBS show? I would something like that wouldn’t be held against her but she really stood out all the time and it was shocking to see her not place among the semifinalists. Next up was Colorado’s Eleanna Livaditis who was simply glowing during the preliminaries and although, she wasn’t originally in my list, she shot right into my top 10 after she impressed me during preliminaries which a heavenly gown, great body and angelic face. Texas sent Lauren Guzman who was also a former Teen but didn’t place at Miss Teen USA either. It is extremely rare for Texas to not place as it is the most successful state at Miss USA claiming 9 winners including 1 Miss Universe. Texas also didn’t place in 2010. Lauren had a real eye-catching gown designed by noted Venezuelan designer, Gionni Straccia but it wasn’t enough to save her. Illinois’ Lexi Atkins was 1st runner up at Miss Teen USA 2010 so she became the Jamie Solinger of this pageant. For you see, at Miss USA 1998, two former Miss Teen USAs (Jamie Solinger and Shauna Gambill) were seen competing for the 1998 Miss USA crown only for Jamie to not place among the semifinals and for Shauna Gambill to make it to 1st runner up. 2014 saw a very similar scenario where two 1st runner ups to Miss Teen USA (Lexi Atkins-2010 and Audra Mari-2011) were competing for the crown with the exact same results. Lexi Atkins went unplaced just like Jamie Solinger whereas Audra Mari made it to 1st runner up just like Shauna Gambill! 2014 was truly a pageant of 1998 proportions!! I did actually somewhat suspect this would happen which is why Lexi was lower on my list because her shoulders didn’t quite look broad enough. Both Illinois’ Lexi Atkins and Utah’s Angie Layton were in the top 5 of Miss Teen USA 2010, yet went unplaced at Miss USA 2014 which is further proof that the outcome of one pageant doesn’t always match that of another. New York’s Candace Kendall was also on many lists and she was a former Teen but I wasn’t quite fond of the facial expressions she was making although she was in great shape so it caused me to lower her on my list and I assume the judges felt the same way. Ohio’s Madison Gesiotto reminded me a lot of former Miss Venezuela, Jictzad Vina and she had a very traditional pageant look and great interview skills which I really appreciated but unfortunately she didn’t make it and finally Massachusetts’ Caroline Lunny who was also a semifinalist at Miss Teen USA 2008 had a fantastic gown, body and overall look so I have no idea what happened there.

The long announcement of the semifinalists really added to the suspense this year. The involvement of the families and friends in the vignettes was also great as I feel that this can create even more interest in the delegates’ themselves and gives their supporters an opportunity to also shine and be in the spotlight on television so this is a great investment in generating supporters of not only the delegates themselves but also those who are connected to them. This can cultivate potential future delegates and therefore lead to more participation and entrants in state pageants. The vignettes also make it more emotional particularly the standout was when West Virginia’s friend was shown in a home video but that friend passed away due to cancer just last month.

When Virginia was announced as the first semifinalist, I thought this would be Miss Universe 2006 all over again so I was pretty prepared any number of random semifinalists to place but in the end, the choices made sense to me and Virginia was really the main surprise and naturally she was eliminated in the first round. Her story about being a wrestler was interesting so it must have been what got her in. North Dakota’s Audra Mari’s vignette featured her story about being a hockey player but also being bullied where she talked about how someone put a stick figure in her driveway with the word ‘sasquatch’ written on it and her house and car were egged and toilet papered and that story also came up during Miss Teen USA 2011 as she delivered a teary-eyed response to her final question in that pageant and it led to her being on the Dr. Phil show to discuss what happened. Audra is such a find from a state that rarely places. With her stunning face complemented with those angelic eyes added to that phenomenal body, it’s no surprise that she earned North Dakota’s highest placement in history and its first placement since another former Teen, Juliette Spier made the top 6 at Miss USA 1996. Next up was the mesmerizing Princess Tiana herself from Georgia! I was so, so happy when she announced and she wowed in the swimsuit round with her great body and commanding stage presence. Her vignette featured how she worked as a flight attendant and that it was her passengers that actually talked her into competing in pageants. Indiana’s Mekayla Diehl followed and I had a feeling she would place although I placed her as an honorable mentions. Her style, especially in interview, reminded me more of a Miss America contestant rather than a Miss USA contestant but with Erin Brady’s win last year, it seems like that type of contestant may be favored. I did point out that her thicker body type wasn’t right for Miss USA so naturally she was eliminated in the swimsuit round but she did get a lot of media attention after the pageant for receiving both praise and criticism for what seemed to be a body type closer to that of the average woman. Mekayla took it all in stride and her vignette featured her talking about embracing her Native American roots. Tennessee’s Kristy Landers Niedenfuer had the chance to give Tennessee a 7 year chain of wins as the goddess Lynnette Cole won Tennessee’s first Miss USA crown in 2000, then 7 years later, Rachel Smith won a 2nd Miss USA crown for Tennessee and I was thinking that it might happen with Kristy, 7 years later in 2014 but it was not to be. Kristy has great genes being the daughter of actress Judy Landers and baseball player Tom Niedenfuer but Kristy is a star in her own right as shown in her vignette that she performs in circuses and daring aerial acrobatics. Kristy does have an amazing body and overall look so I’m surprised she wasn’t among the top 10. She also had a gorgeous red gown for finals which was different from the black gown with green appliqué worn during the preliminaries. I’m sure had Tennessee got past the swimsuit round, she could have shot right up there with a high position as Kristy is also tremendously well-spoken and has the feel of a pageant contestant from yesteryear who could set a good example for modern pageant contestants. Florida’s Brittany Oldehoff was next and was also heavily favored as she placed high on many predictions’ lists that I saw. She is a working model and was featured on Project Runway and her vignette focused on the recent passing away of her father and how he was very proud of her work and would share it on social media. Brittany also has a great fit body so as expected, she did get into the top 6 as many suspected she would. California followed and as a former Teen titleholder, she had a great overall look but I thought her body type would keep her out of the top 10 but she did make it through to that round. While quite busty, her body appeared somewhat wider so I knew she would have trouble getting much further in the competition. Her vignette featured her playing sports being a tomboy with her brothers and also dancing ballet. Alabama’s Jesica Ahlberg followed and with her lovely face, she was also expected to perhaps go a bit further but it turns out her height was a hindrance and it kept from advancing after swimsuit. Her vignette featured her loving acting and outdoor sports like ziplining. The 9th spot in the semifinals went to our eventual winner, Nia Sanchez of Nevada who also sported the look of a more classic beauty. Her vignette featured her talking about being a 4th degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do. Arizona managed a spot in the semifinals next talking about being diagnosed with 5 diseases and found out that cutting gluten from her diet helped her but she didn’t make it past the swimsuit round as expected. Maryland’s Taylor Burton followed and while very fit, she didn’t quite appeal to me and only got a spot among my honorable mentions so this is one of those delegates that other people liked but I didn’t quite get. She talked about wanted to be an environmental specialist and eventually working as a veterinarian and collecting dogs along the way. Minnesota’s Haley O’Brien was also a former Teen and I would have liked to see her go to the next round but for whatever reason, she didn’t get past the swimsuit round. She talked about having more of a nerd look in school and became a beauty fascinated with chemistry. Oklahoma followed and at age 19 was one of the youngest delegates in this year’s pageant and I felt that it showed particularly with her interview skills. Her body was decent but I wasn’t really expecting her to get a semifinalist spot so I didn’t think she would go further. New Jersey’s Emily Shah was a very interesting pick. Being the daughter of Bollywood film producer, Prashant Shah, Emily has had opportunities to work in films in front of and behind the camera and she has even met India’s first Miss Universe, Sushmita Sen who won her crown the year Emily was born. Emily presented very well and I feel she placed exactly where she should have. Next up, the Louisiana audience showed their enthusiasm for Brittany Guidry who did very well in the competition. She was also a runner up at Miss Teen USA 2009 and also got a runner-up placement this time around as well with a great overall look. Her vignette talked about her love of being on the bayou boating, fishing and seeing alligators. Iowa’s Carlyn Bradarich followed and she talked about being the sister of Miss Illinois USA 2010 and she was also the Twitter #savethequeen winner so she was given a top 6 spot due to this. Carlyn actually had a great face so she was a suspected semifinalist as she does have a decent overall look and Iowa hadn’t placed since 2000 prior to this so this state often gets overlooked but not this time around! Nebraska’s Amanda Soltero, also a former Teen made it this time around and she did a nice, unique gown but she didn’t make it past the swimsuit round as her frame a bit more petite so it was going to be hard for her to advance. Her vignette featured her story of also having a baseball playing father who also wanted her to be in sports but she went the cheerleading route. Wisconsin’s Bishara Dorre followed who I absolutely adored. She was also a former Miss Wisconsin Teen USA and Miss Wisconsin’s Outstanding Teen and placed as a runner up at Miss Wisconsin USA a few times prior to actually winning and she was very deserving. She is not only beautiful but a great speaker and has an outstanding personality and her vignette featured her working as a sports reporter. Although she is petite, I was happy that Bishara made it to the gown round although I wasn’t sure that it would happen. This was a very pleasant surprise. Pennsylvania’s Valerie Gatto followed and a lot of people really loved her retro look including myself so I was so glad to see her place and her compelling story about being the product of a rape was shocking and I’m sure it helped her stand out and made her memorable. Finally, the last spot of the 20 semifinalists went to this year’s tallest delegate, South Carolina’s Christina Zapolski who with her long legs and great overall look helped propel her to the top 10 but I’m actually surprised she didn’t make the top 6. South Carolina’s vignette talked about getting closer to her sister after their parents’ divorce. The swimsuit round was set to the song “Cruise” by Florida-Georgia Line with Nelly. Given the name of that band, it was great that Florida and Georgia both placed in the top 6 and they could easily have been the top 2! With the vignettes of the top 20 semifinalists, you can see the range of interests of the semifinalists and their stories give the audience someone to relate to on another level which was an added benefit of this format. The photogenic winner was California and congeniality winner was Rhode Island.

After the top 10 were announced, it was on to the evening gown competition to the music of the group Camila singing in Spanish which is a first for Miss USA. Florida came out first in a striking gown with a cascade of silver fringe beads on the skirt and she carried very well. North Dakota was called 2nd in both swimsuit and gown round and was also 2nd to answer her final question and also placed 2nd overall so was there a bit of destiny here? Audra had a green gown which really stood out and it had an interesting design at the bust draped to one shoulder and it was a bold color but Audra herself stands right out so I think she could have worn pretty much anything and would have pulled it off well as she did here. Next up was Princess Tiana herself from Georgia carrying a lovely white mermaid style gown with gold designs on the bodice and she so elegantly cupped her hands on her hips and showed the world what a true professional she is. Maryland followed opening that slit right up and this beaded gown also had a pretty open back but I felt her presentation was somewhat amateurish so this was as far as she would go. California followed in a black beaded gown that really catches the light in a nice way but she did not advance past this round. South Carolina’s white fishtail gown was really lovely and she was a standout so I’m not quite sure what kept her from advancing. Iowa’s gown was very similar to Ukraine’s gown at Miss Universe only in black and Nigeria’s gown last year was the same so this is a familiar design but it is a nice one. Wisconsin followed and I loved her twirls and the way this yellow gown looked amazing on her skin tone so I was very pleased with Bishara’s performance. Nevada changed to a red gown from her yellow gown in preliminaries which some said had more of a Big Bird feel to it but the red gown had a unique design and Nia posed very well in it so it likely helped contribute to her win. Finally, Louisiana followed in a rich blue gown and she also worked it well even it looked more like a maternity gown but she had class and a sophisticated air about her.

Top 10 for Miss USA 2014After the top 6 were announced, there was a more casual get-to-know the delegates question and answer session. Iowa was asked first about what advice Carlyn’s sister who competed at Miss USA 2010 gave her. Carlyn replied, “Really, it’s just to be yourself. I mean just go out there, have a good time. You… I’m really already proud of myself to be on this stage with 50 other beautiful women so just to have her behind me was really, you know, amazing.” North Dakota was asked what her old bullies would say to her now that she is in the top 6. Audra replied, “Um. Actually a lot of the bullies that I encountered in high school have apologized. I live in Fargo, North Dakota still today and a lot of them still live there and so I think they’re incredibly, I guess, big people for doing that and apologizing, um, but I think it’s an example of how you can push forward and keep going, um, no matter what you face in life so yeah.” Florida was asked about why she likes to go country line dancing. Brittany replied, “I go every single Wednesday. I’ve really grown a loving to it and I just, I love the way the crowd gets going and everyone’s excited and everyone’s dancing all together. Same routine. And I just love it every Wednesday! Thank you!” Nevada was asked after debating the pronunciation of the name of her state, if she really needed the tight security they have since she is a 4th degree black belt. Nia replied, “I appreciate the security that we have but I feel I can take care of myself. I’ve always felt very confident and I think it’s a great thing for a woman to have that confidence to be able to take care of herself.” Louisiana followed and being the hometown girl was asked what she enjoyed most about welcoming others to her state. Brittany replied, “Well, it was really fun showing them our culture. It’s so vibrant and rich. The hospitality here was so great, um, but I also got to learn a little bit about Louisiana as well so it was a great experience being here.” Finally, Georgia was asked what her most memorable travel experience was being a former flight attendant. Tiana replied, “My first trip to New York City. I always loved New York and it was something there that felt like home every time I went, I just told myself, it’s something here for me and so, my very first trip to New York has been my favorite.” Guiliana added, “Did you give pretzels?” in reference to being a flight attendant and Tiana replied, “And Biscoffs!” To which Thomas replied, “Those are good cookies!” This segment was followed by the always treasured montage of clips from pageants past which was wonderful. It showed some of highs and lows of previous pageant answers which included some lows from Kentucky 1982, Missouri 2001, South Carolina Teen USA 2007, Pennsylvania 1971, Minnesota 2002 and then the highs like Brook Lee (Hawaii 1997), Olivia Culpo (Rhode Island 2012), Halle Berry (Ohio 1986).

Top 6 for Miss USA 2014Finally, it came down to the final question. Iowa selected judge Melissa Peterman whose question was, “A recent story in the New York Times said that narcissism is an epidemic suggesting America’s youth is turning into a hyper-entitled, self-absorbed generation. Do you agree? Why or why not?” Iowa replied, “I actually do agree with that. I think social media and technology has, um, allowed, you know, the youth to post pictures of themselves and videos of themselves that kinda to me seems narcissistic. Thank you.” I didn’t think this was a particularly strong answer but there wasn’t really much you could do with this question and coupled with knowing that she was the Twitter save, that may have hindered Iowa somewhat and led her to finish in 6th place. North Dakota selected judge Allie Laforce who also happened to be a co-host when Audra also competed for Miss Teen USA. Allie’s question was, “It’s so challenging these days to get a job whether you have a college degree or not so in light of this and the soaring costs of higher education, do you think going to college is relevant at this point?” Audra replied, “I do think going to college is relevant at this point. Um, I know my parents’ generation, there’s a lot of people who are extremely successful who never did get a college degree but in this day and age, I know it’s extremely hard to find a job even after 4 years of college, um, so I do think it’s extremely important to go and get your education and I guess further your education after high school.” I felt that this answer borrowed a lot from the original question so it was a decent answer but could have been a bit stronger. Audra was still outstanding overall so it was not surprising to see her get 1st runner up. Florida selected judge Randy Couture who asked, “Tough competition. What exactly sets you apart from the other finalists that would make you the best choice for Miss USA?” Florida replied, “Well, I have to tell you that being up here is an honor to be with these women. They are absolutely phenomenal and I’ve really gotten to know them over the past couple of weeks however, I think that I’m bringing something new to the table. My father passed away with complications of Crohn’s and Colitis and I’d really love to bring that forward and raise money and awareness and bring it home for my dad.” She had the story about her dad but these days, they seem to be getting away from that but she answered well. Nevada selected judge Rumer Willis who asked, “Recently, Time Magazine revealed that 19 percent of U.S. undergraduate women are victims of sexual assault while in college. Why has such a horrific epidemic been swept under the rug for so long and what can colleges do to combat this?” Nia replied, “I believe that some colleges may potentially be afraid of having a bad reputation and that would be a reason that it could be swept under the rug because they don’t want that to come out into the public but I think more awareness is very important so women can learn how to protect themselves. Myself, as a fourth degree black belt, I’ve learned from a young age that you need to be confident and be able to defend yourself and I think that’s something that we should really start to implement for a lot of women.” This answer was very likely what set Nia apart because this answer totally worked for her and she made it about herself incorporating her accomplishment of being a black belt and she just answered it very well. Louisiana picked Ian Ziering’s question, “In recent weeks, the U.S. has released 5 detainees from Guantanamo in exchange for one U.S. soldier held captive in Afghanistan. The U.S. policy is to leave no soldier behind. Do you think it’s fair to sacrifice or swap lives in order to uphold this policy?” Louisiana answered, “I am glad that we got our guy back however I do not feel it is right that we subject ourselves to these acts of terrorism. I do agree with our guy being back but however, I do not think this is…should subject ourselves. Thank you.” This was more of a sticky question and the answer could have been a bit stronger but it was delivered well. Georgia picked Karl Malone’s question, “You have 30 seconds to say anything you want to to our political leaders of this country. What would you say?” Georgia replied, “I say that we should lead our country by faith. Um. For me, I know that when I go to bed at night, I pray for my family as well as the leaders of the country. I think if we pull together and work together, we are able to make more of a difference than setting ourselves apart and, yeah, that’s what I would say! Thank you! (laughs)” Perhaps the nervous laughs at the end may have sealed her fate and the religious tinge to her answer may have affected her as they seem to want to get away from religion these days but Tiana was so strong that I still hoped she would pull off the win.

Top 2 for Miss USA 2014 Nia Sanchez wins Miss USA 2014After Erin Brady’s emotional farewell, the results were announced. Iowa was 5th runner up, Florida was 4th runner up, Louisiana was 3rd runner up, Georgia was 2nd runner up to which I let out a big ‘Noooo!!!’ and finally North Dakota was declared 1st runner up and Nia Sanchez of Nevada won Miss USA 2014. North Dakota’s Audra Mari placed as 1st runner up at both Miss Teen USA and Miss USA which has never happened before. Only 9 women have placed in the top 3 at both Miss Teen USA and Miss USA and those women are: Idaho’s Brandi Sherwood (Miss Teen USA 1989 and 1st runner up to Miss USA 1997 who inherited the crown of Miss USA 1997 after Brook Lee won Miss Universe), Kansas’ Danielle Boatwright (2nd runner up at Miss Teen USA 1992 and 1st runner up at Miss USA 1996), Indiana’s Kelly Lloyd (1st runner up at Miss Teen USA 1993 and 2nd runner up at Miss USA 2002), California’s Shauna Gambill (Miss Teen USA 1994 and 1st runner up at Miss USA 1998), Texas’ Nicole O’Brian (1st runner up at Miss Teen USA 2000 and 2nd runner up at Miss USA 2003), Kentucky’s Kristen Johnston (2nd runner up at Miss Teen USA 2000 and 2nd runner at Miss USA 2005), Kentucky’s Tara Conner (2nd runner up at Miss Teen USA 2002 and Miss USA 2006), New Jersey/California’s Alyssa Campanella (1st runner up at Miss Teen USA 2007 and Miss USA 2011) and now North Dakota’s Audra Mari (1st runner up at Miss Teen USA 2011 and 1st runner up at Miss USA 2014). Audra joins Danielle, Kelly, Nicole and Kristen in the always-a-runner-up-at-nationals club.

Nia Sanchez interestingly enough competed at Miss California USA from 2010 to 2012. Her highest placement at that pageant was in 2010 as 2nd runner up. Miss California USA 2011 saw 3 women who would become Miss USA compete for that title. Alyssa Campanella (Miss USA 2011), Nana Meriwether (Miss USA 2012) and now Nia Sanchez (Miss USA 2014). All of these ladies relocated (Alyssa competed and lost in New Jersey before winning in California, Nana competed and lost in California before winning in Maryland and Nia also competed and lost in California before winning in Nevada) and won their ‘new’ state titles that would lead them to the Miss USA stage and eventually to their national crowns. Nia recently faced some criticism in the media for state-hopping but the residency requirement is 6 months in the state she is represented which she asserts that she did meet. In any case, Nia Sanchez is Miss USA 2014 and it’s the first win for Nevada so we have yet to know the exact date and venue of Miss Universe 2014 but Miss Teen USA is on August 2nd so until then!




Some photos courtesy Miss Universe L.P., LLLP