Miss USA 2016: Winner and highlights
Steve Harvey, for all of his many contributions to society — Family Feud, his sick ‘stache, and Kenan Thomson’s SNL impression, just to name a few — has also potentially doomed beauty pageants forever. Because even if Miss USA 2016 was technically a lovely affair, full of some of the nation’s most accomplished young women with teeth white enough to blind you, it still never stood a chance of living up to the drama of Harvey accidentally naming the wrong winner at the most recent Miss Universe pageant. But that didn’t stop hosts Julianne Hough and Terrence “J” Jenkins — who were surely feeling the pressure — from joking about ol’ Steve’s mistake, and in the end, a winner was crowned… and this time, she got to keep it.
If you were perhaps a person who spent Sunday night watching game 2 of the NBA Finals or checking in on the status of Winter’s imminent coming over on Game of Thrones rather than watching the three hours of lead-up to crowning the new Miss USA, then you might not know that in addition to not seeing the first commander in the U.S. Army Reserves be crowned as Miss USA, you also missed one surprisingly smooth performance from the Backstreet Boys. In 2016! Read below for the top moments from the pageant broadcast:
Most Unfortunate Audience Participation: Apparently Miss USA is all about getting the audience involved these days: Fans’ votes contribute to the results as the “sixth judge” vote; if they boo loud enough, Julianne Hough has to give an explanation for who creates the interview questions after the commercial break; and fans on social media got to select a whole 52nd contestant — Miss 52 USA, Alexandra Miller — to compete… and then she didn’t make the Top 15, so we barely got to see her. Womp, womp.
Most Random Product Placement: But we did get to see plenty of weird product placement segments featuring unidentified women using items to get ready for empowering activities. My favorite? Probably the blond woman meticulously straightening her hair before donning her boxing gloves.
Best Explanation for the Swimsuit Competition: Since the women got to pick out their own bathing suits, backstage correspondent Ashley Graham said, “This is a really great chance for them to show off their personal style and express who they really are.” Definitely — that’s definitely what we’re here to check out.
Best Moment of Perfectly Shady Shade: While the Top 15 expressed who they really were in their bikinis, a narrator rolled out random facts about them, a real staple of pageants with a lot of time to kill. And Miss Ohio made the most of her moment: “In rehearsals, Miss Ohio said she learned a lot from watching the other contestants make mistakes.” Do you want some lotion for that burn, other contestants?
Most Convincing Argument for a Future Mister Dad Pageant: Since Father’s Day is coming up, Miss USA 2016 featured a segment of a few of the contestants teaching their very game fathers the tools of the beauty pageant trade: waving, walking, and getting crowned. Watching all of their fake cry-faces has me convinced that there might be something to this middle-aged man pageant idea…
Best Formalwear Trend: Capes! When the Top 10 took the stage for the Evening Gown portion of the competition, it was revealed that there were not one but two white gowns with full length capes. If we can’t have the drama of the host making a monumental mistake on live television, at least we could have the drama of fashion.
Most Diplomatic Answer: Miss Georgia, Miss Hawaii, Miss District of Columbia, Miss Alabama, and Miss California all made it to the Interview portion of the evening, which meant they got to roll out their best moves while side-stepping the judges’ questions with the most diplomatic answers possible. The clear winner, Miss Hawaii, who already had to deal with a question that got booed before she even started talking — “If the [presidential] election were held tomorrow, who would you choose?” — and then managed to answer it perfectly… without even answering it: “What we need in the United States is someone who represents those of us who feel like we don’t feel like we have a voice, those of us who wanted our voices heard. We need a president who pushes for what is right and for what America really needs.”
Most Cringe-worthy Choke: Of course, the Interview round is kind of a make-or-break deal and as soon as Miss California paused for a full 10 seconds after being asked about “social and economic inequality.” You could practically see the blood drain out of her face while she tried to piece an answer together but, “I think the rich and the poor need to stop being so segregated” probably wasn’t exactly what she was hoping would come out. But hey, at least she took a risk and that killer tangerine evening gown, and her dad is Gerardo Mejía of “Rico Suave” fame… no one can ever take that away from her.
Best Moment of Nostalgia for 1997: And finally, the moment we’d all been waiting for: THE BACKSTREET BOYS! Okay, technically they were accompanying the moment we’d all been waiting for, the Top 3’s final walk before crowning, but it’s hard to focus on anything else when that opening “You are… my fire” kicks in.
And the winner is…
Second Runner-Up: Miss Georgia (Emanii Davis)
First Runner-up: Miss Hawaii (Chelsea Hardin)
WINNER: Miss District of Columbia, Deshauna Barber! Miss D.C. was clearly a favorite throughout the competition, both for her major achievement in smizing, and her impressive job as both an IT Analyst for the U.S. Department of Commerce and a Logistics Commander for the 988th Quartermaster Detachment Unit. Not too shabby Miss USA, not too shabby.
Miss USA Pageant