Shawnae or Shauna?! This debate will go down in history as one of the biggest of the year, if not the biggest! The 1998 Miss USA pageant had so much potential to be the best ever, unfortunately, some bad choices and a rather lacking format detracted from the event. Usually, Miss USA shows at the very beginning, the moment when last year's winner won. However, Brook Lee became Miss Universe and Brandi Sherwood became Miss USA but they didn't show the special beginning that they had for Chelsi Smith which showed her winning Miss USA, then Miss Universe and then showing Shanna Moakler. Oh well, what's done is done. I think that the pageants having the best formats were definitely, Miss Universe 1996, Teen USA 1996, Miss USA 1997, Miss Universe 97, and Miss Teen USA 98 because they were exciting, energetic, and explosive<--forgive the assonance! Miss Universe 94, 95, 98 could have used more exciting swimsuit competitions. However, this pageant (USA 98) lacked this energy. The music sounded so cheap and overall the opening number only had one good thing which were again, the background pictures. They didn't show the preliminary scores which I think seriously ticks everybody off, including me. The hosts J. Eddie, Ali, Julie, and José all did a great job.

The delegates were also disappointing because they left out some of the best girls and put in some other girls. If I had it my way, I would have replaced Arizona, Louisiana, and Michigan, with Iowa, Florida, and New York indubitably. Iowa, especially since she was one of the two Miss Teen USA's competing!!! Wouldn't it have been ten times more exciting if Shauna and Jamie were neck and neck?! These three girls were also so hilarious, i.e. Iowa, "Have you had your lips and boobs done?", Florida, "My earring just broke, gasp!", and New York, "Make sure before you go out on stage that your dress is not tucked into your hose!" My God, these girls are so down to earth compared to: Arizona who seemed more of a Miss America contestant filled with answers that sounded prepared, Louisiana, who had the homecrowd advantage and hardly expanded on any of her answers! I liked Miss Michigan but the judges obviously didn't so I would have traded her because she didn't seem to be going anywhere. I also want to point out that Iowa also beat out Danielle Boatwright in Miss Teen USA 92, however Danielle Boatwright's scores in USA 96 just went through the roof that it was really a surprise that Ali Landry somehow beat her and Iowa didn't even make the semifinals! Isn't that ironic?! I also couldn't help but notice Miss Alabama's two-million teeth all at once! Miss Virginia's answers were too simple and she was dead last of the ten but how could the judges give that 24-hour a day workout body the lowest score in the swimsuit competition?!

I liked the press conference because it was a new, interesting format that sped up the whole interview process. Miss Utah handled her questions with tact and did very well. My favorite answers were her saying that she would be mad at "herself" if she didn't show up at her funeral and the necessity of a "really big diamond" if Jack from Titanic wanted to paint her only wearing a diamond. Miss Michigan got the question that really got people buzzed about pageant questions, which was "If you were a sandwich, what would you include?" Michigan's answer was "Meat, cheese, and lots of mayonnaise." However, I think the expected answer was something along the lines of brown bread to resemble her exterior, meat to reveal her inner strength/muscle, corned ham because she can "ham" it up sometimes while being "corny", and cheese because she loves to "smile". This would probably have been a better answer. I liked her answers after that one but one would debate whether or not Michael Jackson can still be considered cool. Miss Washington was funny because of her Larry, Moe, and Curly response to with whom she would like to have dinner which instantly puts a picture in your head. She should have been asked some better questions though. Miss Missouri won this competition and her last answer concerning what she would do with her sash was the best because she was very creative and spontaneous. Virginia's tone of voice kind of made her answers sound boring and she didn't put as much thought or effort into this competition like she should have because I think this competition cost her the high marks that she could have been producing. Miss Louisiana was just like Virginia and expansion was necessary. You could tell that she was in there because she was the girl representing the host state. Miss Texas was good and her "butt squeezes" remark was the best. Massachusetts seemed like she was trying to pass herself off as Cindy Crawford in saying "Less is more" concerning make-up, also her "garden of Eden" response didn't really strike me as a historical figure which would have been more effective had she named a person. She picked the right question at the right time at the end when she was asked what she would do if given a virtual pet, she said "Give it back, and say you play with it." She was together and had a very high aura during this interview. California, the one Miss Teen USA of the bunch, stood right out with her brilliant answers especially "hypochondria" which was definitely the perfect response for the question, "If you were on Chicago Hope, what's your disease?" As Julie said, she is very articulate. Finally came Arizona who was just too Miss America type to be in Miss USA. She even had a platform!!

The fitness video was boring, promise me you'll never do that again or else do something similar to the swimsuit video for Miss Universe 97 which was flashier and more energetic. "Breaking All the Rules" from She-Moves was a good background song and I'm really surprised that the three girls from She-Moves aren't crippled after doing those "break-your-back" dance routines! In swimsuit, Utah (the one-piece) looked excellent with a very nice form. One of the judges gave her a 2.10 which I'm sure was supposed to be an 8.70 (a numeric key pad thing) which tells me that those judges really have to be careful when punching in those scores! Michigan did well which came as a surprise based on her other scores and I thought she looked fine but it looked like she was sucking it in to flex the abs a little more. Washington was excellent, reminiscent of Candida Lara, Miss Dom Rep 95, and her hair is beautiful too. Missouri, you could see her ribs which is obviously a sign of sucking it in! Not much muscle on her either! Now, if you want to see muscle, check out, Virginia! The Barbie doll figure was hers and she obviously works out regularly and intensely to get those abs. Louisiana was kind of short so that may have worked to her disadvantage. Texas is quite the supreme suck in artist but she should learn to suck in the ribs too otherwise it just doesn't look natural. Massachusetts, our winner, definitely had the body. I know that she will be a successful model. California, "Ready to go on Banzai Bomber?!" she looked decent and her stance showed that she knew the tricks of the trade, notice how skinny it made her look. Arizona looked okay but then her height also worked to her disadvantage.

The evening gown competition was quite elegant as the sounds of Kenny G's rendition of "My Heart Will Go On" played. The dimming of the lights was very well done and instantly set the mood. I really commend the lighting artists because they did a fantastic job. Utah stepped forth in a white gown bunched up in the centre and she looked stunning and had no distractions. Michigan, now where have I seen this gown before? Oh yes, does a certain Leah Sexton, Miss Missouri Teen 96 ring a bell?! This was an exact replica minus the poofy thing at the back! Unfortunately, even though the gown was nice and accentuated her breasts, she placed last as opposed to Leah Sexton who placed first! Washington had a very unique gown and she looked spectacular in it. Missouri's gown, to me, seemed to be a little too much. Now you all know I liked Carolina Gomez's gown but this gown seemed to be a little distracting. The judges liked Missouri though, that's why they dialed "9.11" for it! Virginia's gown,...gown? I thought it was a negligée! It was seductive, though! Louisiana's gown reminded me of a cat for some reason, I guess it was the structure at the top, and this was the time I thought Louisiana performed well. Texas, toupée tape?! I would never have guessed! She looked very nice but I think she should have let her hair down because her face is somewhat round. Massachusetts, very mature and clearly a fantasy, this gown was better than the Universe one except for her preliminary one for Universe which she should have worn instead of that yellow thing. I hate yellow. Speaking of yellow, I'm so glad Shauna Gambill, California, chose a much nicer gown to wipe away that hideous farewell gown as Miss Teen USA. By the way, any word on Kellie Foster Moore following in her footsteps? Arizona looked Japanese in the evening gown competition which makes me think she is of mixed race. Her frame looked very appealing in this gown and overall was very nice.

For the top 5 interview, my favorites were California, Missouri, and Texas. Utah should have been asked a different question rather than a translation question and Massachusetts didn't really have it together at all but that first question, "Tell us why you should be Miss USA without using any words" was hard! What else could she do but those workout movements?

To address the issue of the final question, I personally was expecting Shauna Gambill to win because she definitely excelled on the final question in giving appropriate answers which were supported as opposed to Massachusetts who didn't explain her choices, and Missouri's answer was only relevant to her family. I think that the fact that Massachusetts won defeats the whole purpose of having a final question. It was clear that Shawnae looked better than Shauna but I guess that the fact that the final vote is based on the judge's overall impression in addition to the delegate's final answer saved Shawnae because her scores for swimsuit and evening gown were well above everyone else. I know Shawnae could have given a better answer but did you notice how she was staring right at J. Eddie and when he looked at her, Shawnae's stare was distracted and she gave this disturbed/surprised sort of look at the audience which told me that Shawnae was not completely focused at the last moment and this may have distracted Shawnae from giving a better answer!

The format for this pageant could have been better and it was a stand-out pageant because of the Shawnae/Shauna issue.