NEW ORLEANS, July 20, 2015 – It has been a little over a week since the new Miss USA, Olivia Jordan of Oklahoma, was crowned on July 12th in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. It has also been over a month since the pageant’s co-owner, Donald Trump, during a speech announcing his presidential candidacy, made his controversial comments concerning illegal immigrants from Mexico, rapidly sending the pageant into a downward spiral.
The first blow to the Miss USA pageant was the announcement from Spanish television provider Univision that it would not air the pageant nor continue to do business with Trump due to his comments. Soon after, Miss Universe Organization co-owner NBC followed suit, taking with it its entertainers and hosts.
The next day, the Miss Universe Organization released a statement saying that they “always seek to transcend controversy” and that they were “disheartened by recent events but the show will go on.”
To the average viewer at home watching this controversy unfolding in the media, this blowup may not have seemed like a big deal as much as it was the understandable consequence of words deemed offensive when uttered by a celebrity.
As a former Miss Hawaii USA, I can affirm that these consequences−essentially meant to hurt Trump−instead only hurt the 51 state titleholders. All of them had been dreaming of competing at Miss USA and had put in a great deal of hard work to have their moment on national television, not to mention the thousands of people involved in sponsoring and supporting these women in their respective states.
Families and friends of the delegates as well as pageant fans everywhere were devastated for these hard working title-holders, women who had nothing to do with the comments that had caused all the ruckus yet were being punished for it just the same. In an attempt to turn the situation around, a movement “#SavetheSash” was launched on social media by a good friend of mine, Travis Stanton. It included a petition on Change.org to convince NBC to air the pageant.
In just over 24 hours the petition had reached ten thousand signatures and had caught the attention of various local and national media outlets.
Just ten days before the pageant, Reelz Channel answered our pageant prayers and announced they would air Miss USA. Almost immediately, contestants were seen doing commercials for the network’s movies and promoting the upcoming show. Promotions for the pageant showcased the contestants in their diversity and put the spotlight back on them.
The pageant itself was, in my opinion, one of the best telecasts in years. Former Miss Universe Organization national and international titleholders made up the all-female finals night judging panel, a representation of strong and diverse women. There were no high profile celebrity hosts, commentators or performers and it made no difference.
The show was fun, exciting and most importantly, it was about the 51 amazing women. I’ll admit I cried during some of their segments highlighting the crowning moments of the titleholders and their stories. I thought back to how I felt up on that stage, how proud I was to represent my state and how proud I was to be sharing my own personal story.
These women are obviously gorgeous. But they are also smart, accomplished and have unique stories, stories that Miss USA provides the opportunity to share.
The Miss USA pageant is more than just a few seconds of fame. It is one of the most amazing experiences one can ever have in her life. Not only do the ladies work on the television production. They also collaborate with the sponsors, explore and learn about a great American city and perform an abundance of charity work.
Miss USA is a title that goes far beyond the standard image of a beauty queen smiling and waving to the crowd. Miss USA is a REAL, modern, powerful woman who sets an example for our youth to emulate. Just competing for the prestigious title opens doors for these exceptional women.
I have nothing but positive things to say about the Miss Universe Organization, its staff and my experience with them. This year proved that 64 years of a great American tradition, one that truly empowers women, cannot be tarnished. The show went on and it was fabulous!
Congratulations to Olivia and the rest of the 2015 Miss USA titleholders!